Morning folks, happy Saturday and all that jazz. Much nicer to face an entire weekend knowing that The Arsenal did their job early, eh? It meant I could look at the games yesterday with a little more of a shrug than I would have done if we’d have drawn or lost. Okay, I see that Tottenham battered a poor Southampton team and are now being lauded as champions elect by their fans with no hint of irony, but that is what it is; we need to let them have their moment. For us the focus has to be on what we do in these opening games and now that we have overcome Palace on the opening weekend, I’m looking at this run of games up until the September internationals as one in which we really need to pick up the kind of points tally that has us quietly going under the radar, but looking good.

I don’t know about you guys, but that’s just the way I like it, because as long as everyone is waxing lyrical about other teams, we can just get on with our job, which is to amass enough points to show improvement on last season’s 69. After one game it’s impossible to start guessing how many points top four would secure, but an average over the last ten seasons shows a wide range. I’ve just had a quick flick through and a mean score of 71.4 points suggests that if we better last season by just two more wins would most likely have us comfortably in top four. But last season was a bit of a strange one for us because we hardly drew any games. We either lost or we won, with 22 victories and 13 defeats. A lot of those defeats came because we just didn’t have the answer to going behind through scoring enough goals, so for me what we probably need is another 10 goals this season. If we added an additional 10 goals to last seasons final tally of 61, then that probably would translate to an additional six points and that might be enough. But the league is competitive and teams are better this year than last year – happens every season that the quality goes up – so we need to see wholesale improvement across our team.

I think we will get it. I am hopeful we will. The pundits are still saying they don’t think we’ve got enough, but they’re looking at things a little too black and white and binary in my opinion. Tottenham and Chelsea both have bought good players, for sure, but have they shifted the dial much tactically this season? I’m not so sure. Maybe they have, maybe they haven’t. I think we will have. Well, I hope we have and the first 30 minutes of the game on Friday night gave me enough of a blueprint to think that’s what Arteta wanted for 70+ minutes of a game, rather than just the first 30 that we delivered. You’re always going to have periods of a Premier League football match when your opponent creates opportunities, so you will need to ride out some attacking waves from every team, but we need to increase the number of minutes that we are ball dominant like we were at Selhurst Park. In that first 30 minutes I saw an Arsenal team who were incredibly cohesive as a pressing unit; it felt like we were expanding and contracting like an accordion or, to use another metaphor, like a living entity breathing in and out.

The ‘breathing out’ was when the opposition has the ball at the back; we push our attacking players and our midfielders up as one flowing movement, rather than just pockets of a press like if Gabriel Jesus goes to close a centre half down but Odegaard, Saka and Martinelli don’t also press their men. When we ‘breathe in we are pulling those players closer together to be more compact and difficult for opponents to play small passes in between us. Where Palace almost got the upper hand was that their very direct route one diagonals to Zaha often found some space for him to attack before we had the chance to contract ourselves in to our tighter unit to make like difficult when we are out of possession. A quick diagonal long ball means you have less time to get yourself set and the fact that Andersen was seen as one of their best players was because he kept finding Zaha. That’s where now, the more I think about it, Ben White had a fantastic game and contributed massively towards the victory, because those long diagonals basically put him in a one-on-one battle with Zaha that he was forced to win or it could have had a massive bearing on the result. Imagine if Zaha had of repeatedly got beyond White – it would have meant that we’d have lost our shape too much and there would have been more space for the Palace players in the box to get even more chances than they did. So now that I’ve had an extra 24 hours to process the performance on Friday, I think Ben White did a very good job.

And that’s pleasing because it gives us a safety net from having to play Cedric when Tomiyasu isn’t fit. We play Cedric in meaningless cup games and we save the proper minutes at right back for both White and Tomiyasu between them, which is a-ok by me.

So it’s been a good all-round weekend for us so far as Arsenal fans. We’re up and running and from what we’ve seen on the first weekend we’ve started to see some of the good stuff in pre season be replicated for the ‘real’ stuff in the Premier League. As Arteta himself said after the game, there is still more to do and there were a few instances in the match in which he said that they will work on, which gives me more optimism because he is seeing more and more things that we can improve on and if we keep getting better and better then I reckon it’s going to be a good season for us.

Right, I’m offski, so you have yourself a good one and I’ll catch you all tomorrow for more thoughts and ramblings.

Laters people.