Football is hella fun when your team plays well. And right now, it is hella fun, I can tell you that, because confidence is simply overflowing in this Arsenal team and you and I , my friend, are the beneficiaries of that. Yesterday represented a potential banana skin, as all of the games do in the Premier League, but Arsenal controlled and dominated it from the first minute. The way we popped the ball around, moved it from side-to-side, the vertically through the lines of our defence, midfield and attack, was sublime. There was movement everywhere in the team and within the first few passes, as I sat outside with the BBQ blazing away, I felt comfortable and without nerves from the first few minutes.
But as with all things, you need to be able to translate that to output, which is why the fact we scored so early helped to define the narrative of the game yesterday. Bournemouth and their fans never really got the opportunity to make it a raucous atmosphere because our players did what every away team wants to do – kill the atmosphere and silence the crowd with goals. And the first goal was a peach. Gabriel Jesus looks like an utter beast right now and his feet are lightning quick. But not only that, he’s strong, with great upper body strength to control the ball for that first goal, followed by twinkle toes feet to skip beyond a couple of players, before picking the right pass to Martinelli whose shot was saved, only for Odegaard to tap in. Brilliant work from the Brazilian and some end product from the Norwegian, which is always good to see.
Then on 11 minutes we’re two goals up and it’s Odegaard again sweeping the ball home and I’m thinking to myself “hmm, this might just be a nice afternoon on the south coast, you know”. I have to admit that I thought the goal itself was offside because of Ben White, but apparent it was the camera angle that was a bit unusual and that’s what made it look so. But VAR had a look at it and decided to call it so I’m going to take it. There was also the Gabriel Jesus goal that was call offside in the second half that was very narrow and would have been a deserved goal for his performance, but VAR ruled that one out by a gnat’s testicle so it wasn’t all going for us yesterday.
But most of it did go for us because we were so good and when you’ve got William Saliba – excellent once again – banging in top corner finishes like that from the edge of the box, you can see just how much this team is clicking. And we are clicking. Quite a lot. I know people will point to the fact that Bournemouth are newly promoted, that we should beat them, blah, blah, blah, but quite frankly I couldn’t give a monkey’s right now because what I’m seeing from this Arsenal side each weekend so far is really pleasing on the eye. It’s one thing to go away from home and pick up a victory, but it’s another to do it in such a dominating fashion. Let’s not forget that Villa went to the Vitality Stadium and came away with nothing. This was a Bournemouth team who will have been in to the habit of winning and won on opening day, so they’ll have been right up for that game yesterday, but we poured cold water all over those hopes within minutes of the game starting. And this is a feature of our recent games so far in the league; we start early and score within the first 20 to 25 minutes. Whether it is home or away, we start fast and try to wrestle the advantage before our opponent has the chance to settle in to a rhythm. It is not always going to be like that, we are not going to have things our own way for the whole of this season, but if we continue to start games with the aggression and drive that we have done so far, more often than not it will happen.
Every player was good yesterday. You can pluck out the stand out players like Jesus, Martinelli, Odegaard and Saliba, but I thought Gabriel was good at the back, Zinchenko and White continue to keep out Tomiyasu and Tierney, in midfield Partey and Xhaka continue to look impressive and whilst Saka hasn’t been in the goals, he is still a threat and caused the Bournemouth left back some issues yesterday.
Teams have to think about this Arsenal side. They have to wonder whether we are going to go left, right, or straight down the middle with Jesus. There is no predictability about Arsenal right now and the knock on effect of that is that we’re getting impressive results in this early part of the season. We all know that it is early days, we are going to suffer defeats and we’re going to have poor games and there will be opponents much better than the three we have faced so far, but the signs so far are so very good.
The Premier League is relentless and to be towards the top you have to be on it every single week. Most teams looked at their start to the season and have looked at ours and said “they should win those” and yes, there is certainly an argument for that. But you still have to go out and do it. Nothing is ever won on paper and if you aren’t completely focused in this league any team can trip you up. Next weekend we play a Fulham team with two draws and a win, having beaten Brentford yesterday and picked up a home draw against Liverpool, showing that they are no mugs. We will have to be on it again and focused again but after that performance yesterday, there aren’t many Gooners out there who won’t go in to the game not feeling confident about our chances.
Arsenal are playing really well. Long may this continue. we hope.
Catch you all tomorrow.