Arsenal won in the “United Way” so to speak, but it is a massive win all the same!
For the captain to break his top-flight goal drought with a strike from the spot was heartening as well, but it is likely that the most impressive bits came from how the team played as a whole unit. After losing to Manchester City and Leicester City in succession, Arsenal would not be undone thrice in a row at this juncture.
The defense, once much-maligned and spoken down to are now proving organized, resilient, thoughtful and ambitious; even in the losses, things have been better than last season. Mohamed Elneny has had a brilliant impact when he’s played and innovations like that have been as effective for the club as any signing itself.
And so while Mikel Arteta undoubtedly deserves, and should receive, credit for this massive innovation, the players themselves are learning and playing better as well.
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From the youth to the experience, what we are seeing week-to-week from the Gunners this season – really first beginning since the restart of last season, in fact – is a transformation of the club into a listless mass of talent. Into a club that is taking on the spirit and ambition of their boss.
What this could mean moving forward remains to be seen, but with the Europa League date with Molde on Thursday, before Aston Villa visit the Emirates on Sunday, we should expect to see a team with both ambition and volition taking it to inferior teams.
The Cream of the Crop Must Keep Rising for Arsenal
The Gunners have shown brilliance this season, sloppiness and flashes of brilliance again. How they manage to play consistently will ultimately determine where they will finish on the league table; they do not want to have to rely on either a FA Cup or Europa League victory to get them back into Europe next season.
In Aston Villa, Arsenal will meet a team that has improved since they returned to the Premier League last season. While they managed to stay up on the final day, they managed to not only keep Jack Grealish, but improve the squad around him as well, most notably with Ross Barkley on loan from Chelsea.
So it is safe to say that this match is no easy ride for the Gunners, and surely the boss has given them the riot act so to speak, but without the same level of focus as was seen against United, the victory will be hollow and negated. They must find success more consistently across not only results, but the entire campaign and beyond.
After That? Keep Winning
After the second international break, the seasons picks up with quite furious pace. Not only do Arsenal have Premier League and eventually Carabao Cup ongoings, but also Europa League happenings as well. This gambit, as I’ve outlined before, is insanity and poses serious risks for the players as well as the clubs.
While this is understood by the coaches and the players themselves, there is little that can be done right now, and little that likely will be done later on. In any event, after this second international break, Leeds United welcome Arsenal, before Europa League group matches continue during the week.
From the 22nd of November to the 2nd of January, Arsenal will be playing at least a whopping thirteen matches; for all but the best athletes, it is a schedule that would run through and over us all.
Yet they must play well, in all the squad combinations, against the likes of the hardest of England and Europe, and do it gladly to boot. But they are capable of greatness and so must suffer greatly to attain as much; while they stand in ninth place currently, much can change over the course of just one gameweek and a victory could send the Gunners into their break with fifteen points and some positive energy.
For Arteta, it is difficult to ask for more than those such things from his players and his coaching staff. Should Arsenal be in contention for a top four spot and the full breadth of trophies available to them, it can be seen as a dangerous course well piloted by a thoughtful visionary with brilliantly talented players.
Should they fall out in some way from then to now, we can look at the circumstances while understanding that at this point in the season, things were still possible for them.