There was a very clear ‘sliding doors’ moment in our victory against Man United yesterday. Clear to me, anyway.

As Bruno Fernandes stepped up to take United’s penalty after a silly handball by Tavares in the second half, it felt like United had the momentum, they were pinning us back and if they scored that it would have brought them level to 2-2 and maybe would have had the impetus to go on and even win the game. As the ball kissed the edge of the post and went wide the stadium erupted, Ramsdale went crazy and his fellow Arsenal teammates hugged with glee. I think those players knew that was a massive miss. 14 minutes later and Granit Xhaka had unleashed a thunderbolt to put us 3-1 up and effectively close down the match for the last 25 or so minutes.

Sometimes football boils down to the most finest of margins, the smallest of seconds, which is what I am reflecting on in the cold light of the next morning today. The chips fell in our favour and we went on to win the game, going six points clear of Man United, with a game in hand and if they lose to Chelski in midweek, then they’ll have three games to play and we’ll have six points over them. As Ragnick said afterwards, that could be all she wrote.

With Tottenham slipping up at Brentford, the pendulum has once again swung in our favour and if we can pick up maximum points in our next few games (I know, bi ‘if, right?), then you’d hope we can go in to the NLD with everything not riding on it.

Arteta made a couple of tweaks to the system that saw Cedric come in for Holding and we moved to a more natural back four, rather than the hybrid approach we did at Stamford Bridge. I was worried beforehand because it feels like Cedric and Nuno together doesn’t work as well when they are both on the pitch. But early goals do a lot to alleviate any early nerves, so when Nuno tapped in at the back post after Saka forced De Gea in to one of the many saves he would make that afternoon, the nerves subsided very quickly and I think you could tell that with the players too.

we weren’t in complete control though. There was a couple of times in which United got in behind us and I thought Nuno was culpable as well as Cedric on both flanks. Sancho had the beating of him and some feel that he was lucky not to give away a penalty with the ball hitting his hand, but for me you can’t give that because Cedric was just putting his hand down to stop his body from hitting the turf. But he looked ropey all game, as did Nuno, who had such a weird performance. Some sloppy passes, slightly culpable for their goal that Ronaldo scored (along with Gabriel), as well as raising his arm unnecessarily for their penalty. And yet he scored the goal, had some good runs and contributed to our attacking threat on our left hand side.

As for the rest of the team, we once again had Saka step up, being involved in the first two goals with his shot for the first, then dispatching the penalty with the kind of assuredness that you expect to see from an old pro. It was an interesting passage of play that led to it too and I must say I had hoped that Eddie was onside for his goal. He worked hard and if that goal would have stood who knows what it would have done to further improve his confidence. Last season Joe Willock went in to an extreme purple patch for Newcastle and as Eddie finished with such aplomb, I wondered whether we could see the same from him in the next few weeks. But alas, it was not to be and whilst we all waited for it to be ruled out (we all knew by the time it takes a few minutes, that it is going to be ruled out), thankfully VAR also gave the penalty. Can’t really have any complaints about the decision because he was offside and it was a clear penalty, but the way things have gone for us this season we all had our doubts in the ground as we waited for the decision.

There was time for VAR and referees to screw us a little though, although thankfully it didn’t matter in the end, because Bruno Fernandes should have been off for his appalling challenge on Tavares towards the end of the game. It looked like a bit of a nasty one in the ground but from my angle I didn’t see it properly until I got home. When I looked at it on Match of the Day last night I was pretty angry; teams seem to be able to get away with murder against us and this was another example.

But today we don’t need to dwell on it, because we won, we have our tails up and there is a week now until we visit the London Stadium where West Ham await. Hopefully it will be a West Ham with eyes fully on the Europa League given that their two semi final games are in between the match against us, but we can ponder the machinations of the West Ham approach later on in the week. For now, we can bask in the gentle glow of a big three points gained against a rival and that feels good.

Just before I wrap up, a few individuals I think it might be worth touching on. Granit Xhaka is stepping up and being the leader in this team. Yes, he scored a screamer, but he was calm and composed in the middle of the pitch all game and alongside Elneny I thought we had a functioning midfield that did its job well. I thought Smith Rowe was quiet but that’s ok, because as long as others can step up its fine and I think with Saka and Odegaard operating close together again, they looked like they had their connections back up and running. That is vital if we’re going to get anywhere near finishing in the Top Four.

So it’s onwards we march, it’s back in our hands, with this season reaching its climax with none of us still the wiser whether anyone is going to pull away.

Catch you all tomorrow for some more musings.