Arsenal’s unofficial 2022/23 season was barely 45 minutes old and fans were already ready to label the campaign a disaster. The Gunners were 2-0 down against FC Nurnberg in their first friendly of the summer as a semi-strong starting XI barely laid a glove on the German second-tier outfit.
Arsenal Twitter was already in a dark place, but Mikel Arteta laid down his beacon at the start of the second half as new arrival Gabriel Jesus was introduced to proceedings. An hour later and supporters were labelling the Brazilian as the signing of the summer; their saviour.
Jesus would spearhead Arsenal’s 5-3 come-from-behind victory that’d set the tone for the rest of the summer. Inspired by the former Manchester City forward, the Gunners enjoyed a mightily productive pre-season tour out in the States which included a 4-0 thumping of London rivals Chelsea.
Upon their return, Sevilla were dispatched 6-0 in the Emirates Cup. As a result, Arteta’s side had a heap of momentum behind them heading into the start of the Premier League season and while the outside world perhaps wasn’t aware of just how good this Arsenal side was, those of a red and white persuasion had an inkling.
Such optimism has been justified given the Gunners’ start to the 2022/23 season. Arteta has overseen the club’s best-ever start to a Premier League campaign and the club headed into the World Cup break five points clear at the top of the table having lost just once through 14 games. While supporters expected Arsenal to be much improved from 2021/22, very few expected them to be this good.
That’s the significance of momentum, baby.
Arsenal’s Dubai Super Cup win and the importance of momentum
The Gunners have been riding a triumphant wave since the summer but a winter World Cup has threatened to disrupt this Gooner Tsunami. In a bid to mitigate the lengthy break, Arteta opted to send the boys not competing in Qatar out to Dubai for a warm-weather training camp where the club would also take on Lyon and AC Milan in the Dubai Super Cup.
These friendlies meant very little, but Arsenal’s victories against these two European clubs could prove significant once the Gunners return to Premier League action on Boxing Day. Their winning momentum has continued even in the absence of some first-teamers, with some fringe players particularly impressing out in the Middle East.
Arteta should also have the majority of Arsenal’s World Cup stars available to him for West Ham’s upcoming visit. Outside of Gabriel Jesus’ injury, the Gunners’ haven’t been badly hit by the tournament at all. The vast majority of those competing in Qatar were eliminated relatively early on, while William Saliba – the only Gooner to make it beyond the quarter-finals – hasn’t even racked up 30 minutes at the tournament thus far. France will take on Argentina in Sunday’s final with Saliba poised to warm the bench once more.
Given Manchester City’s strength, Arsenal will need their unwavering momentum to carry them through a difficult start to the new year in Jesus’ likely absence. A title victory isn’t expected, but it’d be great to see the Gunners stick with the imperious Cityzens, whom they place twice during the second half of the season, for as long as possible.
Such momentum has failed to dissipate over the World Cup break, and the club will be looking to assert their authority as the Premier League leaders when the Hammers come to town under the Emirates lights.