It’s the middle of the week already and having had that most boredom inducing thing of an international break last week, there’s barely any time to catch our breath, as the team travel out tonight for Sporting Lisbon away tomorrow.
It should mean an Emery press conference and I must admit I’m pleased to be hearing him play down us at the moment. We’ve won ten on the bounce but it hasn’t been an Arsenal team swatting away all that come before them. We’ve given chances – big chances – in all of the games we’ve played so far this season and the manager is still stressing that there is a lot more work to do.
He knows that, we know that, the powers that be at Arsenal know that and I’m sure the players are acutely aware. We’re nowhere near the finished article but whilst the media are starting their little titbits of hyperbole here and there, it’s important to know that those involved with the club are keeping their feet rightly on the ground.
Just look at what Emery said in the aftermath of the win: we’re happy but we need to not get carried away, just like we weren’t getting too carried away in a negative sense after two defeats on the opening two games of the season. That’s for the media to do. For The Arsenal it’s about getting a rhythm going and whilst I’ve been happy that we have been picking up wins so far this season, one of the worries I’ve had up until recently, is that we didn’t seem to look like we had players fully connecting on the pitch.
Up until Fulham away a couple of weeks ago it felt like Arsenal hadn’t quite found the grove. But then at Craven Cottage things started to click. The quick interchanges of passing were evident. We also saw what Emery wants with Arsenal players very quickly pressing Fulham players I’m certain parts of the pitch. Like that space in the midfield which is just inside our own half and inside the centre circle.
I saw that at times in the second half against Leicester too. We closed space quickly in certain spaces and we also won the ball higher up the pitch. It kept the pressure on Leicester and forced them on the back foot. Claude Puel bemoaned a lack of intensity of his players but I think that’s a little disingenuous of him; his players didn’t see enough of the ball in the first ten minutes of the second half and that affected them both physically and mentally.
Arsenal pressed their foot down on Leicester’s proverbial neck and Leicester never really got the chance to recover in the second half.
That’s what I’m more interested in rather than this winning run so far, because it marks a clear definition of Emery’s Arsenal and the style he wants to play, whilst picking up wins only further helps the momentum as we build up to that Liverpool game in a couple of weekend’s time. There are games before that and of course Arsenal have to focus on Sporting, Palace and Blackpool, but Liverpool will be a big game that many will see as the moment Arsenal come unstuck.
And if you read my blogs regularly you’ll know that my personal self-defence mechanism when it comes to The Arsenal is to think a little more pessimistically. So as it stands right now I’m looking at that Liverpool game and starting to get really worried about how many chances they are going to get.
Which is why building momentum is going to be so important and that’s why we all have to collectively cross everything together in the hope the winning streak can continue, because it will build more confidence in the team, it will keep those players believing they can score at any moment and it will put us in the best position to get our first win over the scousers in a few years.
But for now it’s all eyes on Sporting, on how Emery is planning on rotating, and on who has recovered well enough from the Leicester game on Monday night.
Catch you all tomorrow.