When Patrick Vieira and Crystal Palace came across London to play Arsenal at the Emirates, it felt as though it would be a tough match up until the final whistle. And it was all of those things, yet for those who watched, Palace grabbed the volition of the match after an early goal from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang put the Gunners into a leading position that would also have its consequences.
Arsenal would not play as vibrantly for the rest of the match, likely attempting to secure those three points that they were able to take into halftime with them. When Palace came back out after the break, they looked as though they had heard their boss quite clearly, and played like it in that second 45′.
Their two goals, the one right after break and the other as the game was nearing its end, were two poor defensive plays that were finished with beautiful precision. The second goal in particular, by Odsonne Edouard, was a stunning piece of finishing, demonstrating the skills and precision that will likely make the young Frenchman a star under Vieira and anyone else in the seasons to come.
Arsenal got outworked when they faced Palace, and was it not for a late Alexandre Lacazette equalizer at the death, Arsenal wouldn’t have even escaped their home ground with a point. For a young team with talent, quite similar to the Eagles actually, this is perhaps the worst of all sins: to be beaten is one thing, but to be outworked is, always, hard for a boss to wrap his brain around.
Arsenal and effort: They must be inseparable against Aston Villa otherwise this team will not grow as it must
Effort is the one thing that all players, all people in fact, can always give, no matter the circumstances. Effort comes from inside the mind and the proverbial heart, and can’t really be taught, only reinforced and praised. Why the Gunners lacked the degree of fight that Palace put on display for at least the second half, I cannot understand any more than Arteta can. He’ll have hardly any time to get that right as the Friday match against Aston Villa comes around in quick time
This team is, no matter what the supporters might have to say after they’ve gotten their hopes up, developing and changing for the better. Is it as fast as we all might want? Surely not, but that doesn’t mean progress is not taking place. Progress is taking place, the players are happy and positive, and the coach is seeing strides from players young and old alike.
Younger teams with younger bosses have a tendency to be up and down, great then bad, sharp and then dull, until they themselves know how to create consistent magic with their teammates. It doesn’t happen overnight, but takes time and focus, as well as a certain amount of attention to detail. Will these young men play loosely forever? No, especially not under Arteta, but he does not have the players that Pep had been able to pick and choose over the years either.
Mikel Arteta has talent, just as he has some really talented players on his roster, from the youth of Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe, Aaron Ramsdale, Takehiro Tomiyasu, and Benjamin White, to name just a handful, to Auba, Laca, Thomas Partey, and Granit Xhaka. There is a proper mixture of all of the qualities a team needs to be great, from youth to experience, to ambition, passion, and commitment.
All that is lacking is that consistency, as well as that effort, day in and day out. That is a part of the previously mentioned consistency, yet extends further, into the realms of desire. These players must want to win more than the other team doesn’t wish to lose or draw the match; they must give all they have to give, and then give more, that which they didn’t realise that they still had left to give.
The coach too, must do better, but I would wager that he knows that as well as the players know their own responsibilities. If they can all put it together, at some point in the early stages of this season, they can really make an impact on the Premier League table going forward. With Aston Villa just hours away at this point, they’ll have to get it sorted in a hurry, because that squad, full of their own talent and experience, might just give Arsenal another lesson.