Football is a mental ol’ sport sometimes, eh? Like watching a team in Everton who could have gone up to fourth with a home win against what looked like a hapless Watford last weekend, get battered in ten minutes to lose 5-2 at home. Or like how after three games of the season we were bottom of the league, zero goals scored, with all of the memes coming out and battering Arsenal. Yet as it stands this morning we’re only one point off fourth spot.

Now the reality is that by the end of play today it’ll look very different no doubt. The Scum play West Ham and whoever wins that will be four points away from us. Or you have a possible United win against Liverpool and we’re looking at them being three points off of us as well. A Brentford win against Leicester sees them leapfrog us and even if Leicester win they’ll go ahead on points. But the very fact I’m even talking about the league table itself shows I’m feeling a little more buoyant this morning. I don’t know whether it’s just because Pep played his “I love Mikel” card for the week in cheerleading for him in his post match presser, talking about how hard it is to come up against tactically astute managers like Graham Potter, Mikel, Liverpool’s Klopp, Tuchel, etc. Of course he’s saying that after his side had battered a Brighton team who suddenly forgot how to do basic defending at times, and he said nice things about Mikel after his team had absolutely pulverised us, but it at least made me feel good for a minute or two when I read that stuff.

We’re eight games in and still mid table though, so I’m not getting too excited, because already my eyes are shifting in the direction of a trip to Leicester next weekend and I might have a little look at that Leicester game today to see how they get on against Brentford, who have surprised a few people. If we’re going to truly start to build any kind of momentum then next weekend is a game that should have a big circle around it, because it feels like more of a statement would be made than a home victory over Villa. The week after that game we play Watford at home who despite their heroics yesterday, you’d hope could be a team that we could beat. Then we have Liverpool away which you chalk down as a defeat, but then it’s Newcastle at home and Everton away. If you want to be looking at the European spaces then you have to win those home games and Liverpool aside, probably take at least four points from Leicester and Everton. But that’s easier said than done because to the point that Guardiola mentioned yesterday, the tactical ability of the managers and teams in this division these days is such that each game feels like a banana skin of some kind.

I think it’s why home games like the Palace one always grind the gears a bit, because you know away points are hard to come by. If you can develop some kind of home form momentum then you stand a good chance of finishing at least in the top half. Then you just need to pick up ‘enough’ points to be able to slowly creep up the league. I’m looking at teams between 10th and fourth and seeing just how many drop points away from home and realising just how important home games are. Then you approach the away games as bonus points, but only if you win those home matches against ‘winnable’ opposition. We have lost at home to Chelski with half of our team missing – that happens – we have beaten Norwich, Tottenham and Villa, so if we’d have got that win against Palace with a better performance I’d probably be looking at it so far and saying that we are 100% on the right track. That one result left a bad taste, but the Villa win put the flavour back in to my palette, so whilst I feel good right now, I am still wrestling in my mind as to which Arsenal team we are.

My hope is that we’re more like the Villa one and I hope Arteta spends this whole week ahead of the Leicester lunchtime kick off on Saturday (eugh, hate those kick off times) trying to bottle the ‘feeling’ and the approach the team made against Villa. I know every game is different because every opponent is different, sets up differently, has better/worse players in different positions, but one of the problems with the Palace game that was the polar opposite to the Villa game was the intensity of our play and the ‘feeling’ that we just had more in our tank. That’s what I am hoping Arteta is getting across to the players.

We play Leeds in the League Cup on Tuesday and already I see a few people on my timeline talking about how we approach the game and who should play. Keep momentum or rotate? For me it’s always about rotation and keeping players on the fringes happy with some game time, but it’ll be interesting to see what comes out from Mikel’s press conference, which will likely be tomorrow. The games are a little closer together at the moment than they will be at times in the season without European football, but I do wonder if that is a good thing right now. Keeps the engine ticking over and the team can potentially get in to a little more of a rhythm, which then has a knock on effect on performances and consistency. But you gotta keep winning, so that’s what Mikel has to work out for two days time – keep the players in and keep on winning, or rotate a little bit to keep your wider squad ticking over in terms of match fitness.

Already so much to ponder at such an early stage of the season. But I’m enjoying it a little more after that good performance on Monday. I hope you guys are too.

Catch you all tomorrow.