Thursday has come around and we are knocking down the door of the weekend once again. Perhaps it’s because my work has been so busy, but these weeks appear to be flying by, which is good considering the lack of football we’ve had to endure. I think I read somewhere that there won’t be a press conference today, which means that we’ll have to wait until tomorrow before we get our team news, but with all of the training and lack of actual football being played you’d hope that it should be a relatively clean bill of health for our lads. Fingers crossed.

I’ve also filled my time by listening to plenty of Arsenal podcasts and in some of the pods I’ve listened to there’s been a lot of talk about statistical models and how we are ranked and rated to hit the top four. Some have us as favourites, most I think, which I do find a bit weird given that points in the bag are a greater currency than games in hand. The Scum had two games in hand over us for about a month and yet that has easily evaporated in to nothing. United are four points ahead of us and when you think that our games in hand are Chelski, Liverpool and Tottenham, picking up four points from that list feels rather daunting if you ask me. In fact, if you offered me three points and three draws from those games I’d probably be happy to take it. So with that in mind if that is how life unfolded for us and our three games in hand, we’d quickly lose that ‘games in hand’ advantage to United.

Of course they too have to play Man City, Liverpool and Tottenham, so as long as we mirror whatever results they get there then I guess you could say it equals it all out, but my point still remains; I preferred it at Christmas when we were sitting in fourth and had our games won and played already.

It is what it is though; we can’t help the fixture list and we just have to get on with what is in front of us and that is why this next month feels like it could be pivotal from us. Every team is going to drop points so if we can somehow come out of our next four games with nine or ten points, I think our chances go through the roof. Throw out your statistical models, because if you are winning games and not losing on the trot, you build a confidence that is intangible and can help to carry a team. I remember in 2007/8 when we had a weird set of opening fixtures that meant six from our first ten games were at home. We won six and drew four and were right up there at the top of the table. In fact the run was such that we didn’t lose until Middlesbrough away in December and by then had amassed 11 wins and four draws. That momentum carried us right through until we started to fall short after the infamous Eduardo horror leg break and we all know what happened then. But the point I’m trying to make here is that it felt like the momentum of our team carried us right until that point in the season and we were flying high in that season from the start because of the momentum that we built up. Momentum can be everything in football and if we can overcome Brentford this weekend, then Wolves at home (which will be really tough given we haven’t beaten them at home since 2011) on the Thursday, followed by Watford away and then Leicester at home, then you can sod all of your statistical models, because I’m starting to get the feels  based on what I see in terms of confidence from the players. Ignore any probability stats because when you start to see a swagger in a team brought about by winning, that feels like it trumps anything else.

We saw the reverse of that last season in November and December 2020. Defeat after defeat and the players looked to be on their knees from a confidence point of view. It felt like every team was going for the jugular and most of us felt Arteta wouldn’t last. But he and his team battled and he kept his job, with us now looking at whether he can take that next step in evolving The Arsenal. Does he have it in him? Can he move to that next level? It feels to me like we are approaching the crossroads. Perhaps I’m being slightly melodramatic, but it really feels to me like he could be one good series of victories from sending this team to the promised land. It feels like – assuming we get lucky with injuries, lack of suspensions and hopefully no more dodgy refereeing/VAR calls against us (I know, ha-ha and all that) – we could see this team go bang.

That’s my hope anyway and it is a hope that starts this weekend. I’ll do more of a review on our opponents over the coming days, but after that first game of the season, the COVID issues we had, plus that Ivan Toney interview where he said he wasn’t impressed by us, didn’t see us wining anything soon and that we weren’t all that. That’s the sort of stuff that I really hope motivates our players to put on a show and I hope we can have a right go at Brentford on Saturday. Let’s see how our boys respond.

Until then, I’ll leave that for now and I’ll catch you wonderful people in the morrow.

Have a good one.