STATEMENT WIN FOR ARSENAL AS CLUB MAKES MOVES ON TOP 4 – Le Grove – The Arsenal Opinion Blog

The most important shift we’ve made this season is that we beat teams we should beat, most of the time. Sure, there are games like Everton or United that don’t go well, but overall, we’ve done really well against teams where the idea is ‘you should take 3 points here.’

Last time we played Brentford, we were hammered by COVID, then butchered by shocking refereeing decsions, for the homes sides first game at their new home.

This time around, the question was, would they be our bogey team this season?

Well, they weren’t.

Arsenal put on a very professional performance. We had 24 shots, 8 of them were on target, we mostly defended with sharpness and aggression. We were too in control for the most part.

It took some magic from two of our standout players to make the game count. Smith Rowe, back in the starting 11 broke the deadlock, picking up a Lacazette pass, driving at the goal, and burying a precision striker from 10 yards. It had shades of Bobby Pires. It was a big, big goal against a very deep block.

The second goal started from Lacazette causing problems by challenging a ball in midfield, Thomas Partey broke with the team, waited and waited, then fed Saka in… the England star picked out his spot, the back post, and pinged his strike in off the woodwork. It was totally deserved.

We didn’t manage to keep a clean sheet, Brentford scored one of those stupidly lucky goals right at the death, but because we’d made sure with two goals, it didn’t matter, we secured the three points we needed, teeing up an epic game on Thursday night against a Wolves that battered Spurs at the weekend.

There was a weird incident when Xhaka refused the captains armband after Lacazette went off.

Who cares.

Why would he take something that probably has the grim symbolism of his family being abused online.

My bigger question is why didn’t Arteta know that would happen?

Either way, it’s not a big deal, and the player is perfectly entitled to refuse.

So where are we with the table?

The table is looking good as a I write. Spurs are lucky to be in the game against City, they’ve scored a goal from 1 shot on target as usual, and they look porous at the back. West Ham dropped points against Newcastle. Chelsea nicked a late, late win against Palace and look very average under Tuchel, registering just 9 attempts at goal with 3 on target.

We are poised.

There are no guarantees, games in hand don’t mean points, but if we can do the business in our 6 pointer against Wolves, there really will be a bit of belief in the system that we can do this.

15 games sounds better than 16.

The fans are starting to believe. Their support at home this season has been so, so pivotal to our success. I had heard that some of the players didn’t like playing at home in August, that’s why Arteta has been so vocal about his pleasure towards rowdy backing his team has been getting, it means extra points. It means players heads don’t drop when fans groan on 30 minutes. It means extra belief that anything is possible. I love that post pandemic, Arsenal fans decided toxic online behavior was not going to ruin days out with old friends and new one’s. Perfect.

The players look like they believe. Great performances from 21 years olds has become the norm. But I need to remind you, what Smith Rowe and Saka are doing is so abnormal. It’s outrageous. They are so far ahead of most players their age in the world. We are lucky to have them. It’s not even just them, Ramsdale, Ben White, Gabriel, Tierney, and Odegaard all stepping up and showing they are worthy of the badge and the trust.

Moving forward, we just have to take things one game at a time and make sure we treat every outing like a cup final.

March looks tough, but doable.

We should beat Watford.

Leicester have been dreadful this season and Arteta usually gets the better of Rodgers.

Liverpool is a real crapshoot, but we did well at Anfield with 10 men, and we’ve shown against City that if we’re fit, we’re a match for anyone.

Then you have Aston Villa, the ‘Don’t Fuck With Our Players Cup’, which feels winnable after seeing them lose to Watford today.

I’m buzzing just thinking about it. We’re competing for top 4. We’re doing it early. I hope it goes down to the wire.

Right, check out our latest Podcast which we now host via ACAST. We also have a video if that’s your vibe. The pod can be accessed anywhere you listen.

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