Morning folks and happy Thursday to you. Well, it would be a happy Thursday, were it a match day today, but unfortunately the match against PSV was called off, despite every other Europa League game seemingly go ahead, as well as in the Champions League. Go figure.
At least we have the clarity on when the game will be played, which will be on Thursday 20th October, as UEFA confirmed yesterday that both they and the Premier League had agreed to move the game we have against City to another date. I suspect that will be moved to the new year, just like the Everton game, which will cause a few more headaches when we get in to the new year, but it is what it is, we have to get on with it.
The problem with it is that whilst we’ll be able to play the ol’ “we have a game in hand” for about four months until it is played, the fact it is City makes it doubly difficult, because we haven’t beaten them since god knows when and with that utter machine Haaland up front, it looks like they are going to cruise to everything this season. I know football isn’t linear and he won’t score at the same rate he has been scoring, but man, does he look like a good player. He dispatched his old teammates last night and unless we pick up all three points away to Brentford, where City play Wolves away on Saturday lunchtime, you kind of think that our lovely position at the top of the footballing tree in England won’t last that long. So when we come around to playing that game in hand, it probably won’t feel like much of an advantage at all.
It does make October a little easier looking on the eye on paper though, I will admit that. The Scum, Liverpool, Leeds, Southampton and Forest are all teams we play in that month and in between we have those Europa League games, so I’m looking at that month as one in which we need to see a fair bit of rotation. Maybe having played Bodo/Glimt twice by that time will hopefully have us on nine points by then and take the pressure of Arteta and his team to play a full strength side against PSV. He could probably take a blended approach to that game if we can secure two wins home and away against the Norwegians, then we’d be top of the group by at least two points, given PSV drew against them.
That’s what we have to aim for and there’s a lot of work that needs to be done for that to actually come to fruition first, I recognise that, but if we continue like we have been playing all season, then you’d have to hope we can get that result.
Which brings me to my next topic that I’ve been thinking about this season: our performances. It’s funny, you know, because we played well all pre season, started the season really well and have been playing very good football, but I am still wondering when the house of cards will come crumbling down, although some might argue that it already happened against United in our last Premier League game.
But the thing is, it didn’t really, did it? I mean we lost, of course, but we bettered them to the extent that even the gloating United fans deep down will have known they got away with it. We went to Old Trafford and played them off the park and if we go to every away game this season – barring City and Liverpool – and give performances like that, then we’ll win most of the games we play. When we had the Unai Emery era of unbeaten games most of us ignored the fact that we were ‘getting away with it’ in most games, like United did at Old Trafford, and it ended up spiralling into some depressing times in the end, but in this instance the ‘underlying metrics’ are showing us as a very dominant team.
Can that continue for the whole season? That’s what I mean when I talk about the house of cards coming crumbling down, because in my head I’m thinking “are we going to continue to dominate games so easily? Surely not. How can a team change so drastically from a year ago to be as dominant as we have been? It’ll all revert back soon, won’t it?” and it keeps me concerned that at some stage all of this good football and great momentum will stop. But the longer we keep putting in great performances, the more we keep getting great results, the more I am thinking that maybe, just maybe, this IS Arsenal now.
I’m not sure if I’m allowing myself to fully believe that just yet though. We play Brentford this weekend and a win away on a ground that bullied us physically last season would be another milestone reached for the team. Then we play the Scum at home and it’s the next hurdle that needs to be overcome, i.e. beating one of the rivals and bigger teams in the league. I know we beat them last season, but because of the additions we’ve added in the summer and because of the playing style we have, it feels like we are a different team to last season’s team, so this variation of The Arsenal needs to have to prove itself again in the North London Derby. If we can overcome Brentford, then get a win against The Scum, I think that will be two huge games to pick up three points in and it will have us sitting on eight games played, almost at the quarter point in the season, still top of the league. The belief from the players will be there, but for fans like me, the belief will also set in that this season could be an impressive one. But we have to get those two jobs done in the next 16 days. They always say that the table starts to take shape after 10 games and by that time we’ll be on eight games played. That 10th game is away to Leeds and if we go in to that even in the top four, I’ll say that it is another big ‘tick’ in the checklist for this season.
There will most likely be a press conference tomorrow I think, as we don’t play until Sunday, so I probably won’t be able to over-analyse Arteta’s words until at least Saturday morning I reckon, but I’ll catch you tomorrow anyway, with whatever pops in to my head.
Have a good one and I’ll catch you wonderful people tomorrow.