Do you know what’s funny? This time last week my mind was full of positivity and basking in the glow of a post-Liverpool victory. That win felt massive, it felt huge, because we’d beaten a team who were on a fantastic run and who many thought that a draw would be alright for The Arsenal. So to pick up all three points felt significant. Fast forward to today and I’m basking in the delights of another victory, but the manner and meaning of the significance feels different. Not worse, not better, just different.

It’s funny because it shows you how a week in football can ,change your mood so much. But in this instance it is thankfully not going from a high of Liverpool to a low of defeat to West Ham. No, this week my overriding feeling is of excitement. Last week it was unbridled joy at just being back in the conversation at the top of the league, but today it is me projecting forward and wondering:

Are we clicking now?

If we continue to put on performances like the one two days ago then you’d be hard pressed to find somebody who thinks that we’re not. Post the Dubai trip we’ve had a reset, we’ve scored 16 goals and suddenly we’re looking like a rejuvenated team. Our attacking players are finding their range; Trossard’s finish on Sunday feels like one that in December probably would have skimmed over the bar. Saka is suddenly finding space against opponents and that is enabling him to deliver in the final third like he wasn’t doing six weeks ago. And I think that’s quite interesting, because teams haven’t suddenly decided not to put two men on him. Premier League clubs have armies of data analysts who will be looking at Arsenal and making plans to stifle our best players, much like we will do with our opponents, but suddenly Saka appears to be finding room. Why?

I’m no expert analyst, I can only tell you what my eyes see, but to me it feels like Arsenal have found a way to move opposition players around a little more so that space is created. If you get Saka hugging the right hand touchline in a game where the ball is on the left hand side and Arsenal are building up play far away from the England international, teams just aren’t going to have two men stationed on him permanently, because that would free up space for other parts of the pitch to be dictated by Arsenal players like Saka, Jesus, Trossard, Odegaard, etc. So perhaps what we are seeing with this glut of goals is not that teams haven’t figured out what to do with Saka, but more that we have adapted our style of play to enable him to get more space.

I do think we were moving the ball more quickly on Sunday. Against Forest we found it tough, but that was because they were by far the lowest block we’ve ever seen and had absolutely no intention of coming out. I’d wager, however, that had we managed to convert a set piece in the first 30 minutes against Forest at the City ground, that we might have seen a similar game play out like we did at the weekend, because it would have forced Forest out. But we didn’t get it and had to show patience in order to unlock a stubborn and extremely defensive unit.

It may have been the same on Sunday. Had West Ham stood firm until halftime, we may have had another difficult afternoon, but the first goal, then the second one via the penalty, effectively threw their gameplan out of the window. There was suddenly no point in sitting compact on the edge of their own box because we were already two goals up. The second goal we scored came from a longer ball from Trossard to Saka and I suspect had it’d been 0-0 at the time the West Ham back line would not have been near the halfway line trying to push for an equaliser by squeezing further up the pitch. That is the kind of ball you see when space opens up and when you’re in form it is also the kind of ball a player takes on, as opposed to if you’re slightly out of form like we were over Christmas. Maybe if this game is played in December Trossard snatches at the pass, or SDaka doesn’t try to take the ‘keeper on but takes it first time as a shot?

All ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ I know, but I just find football so fascinating when you think about those small margins, confidence, the way that matches can turn on such fine details. Take set pieces, for example, which we’re now by far the most effective team in the league at. It was a set piece corner delivered expertly by Rice that enabled us to take the lead against West Ham. It was the same for our first goal against Crystal Palace. It’s been the case 16 times this season and although they don’t feel as ‘pure’ as a goal from open play, what you can say about set pieces is that if you’re that good at them, you’ve got a team of coaches who are absolutely doing their job.

And they are also clearly essential in unlocking low block teams. A low block side can perch inside their box, flood bodies in there and say “come on then, break us down”. A set piece is about concentration, it’s about organisation, it’s about winning duels from static positions. If you are struggling to break down a team who is organised when the ball is live and in play, a set piece becomes a leveller and an opportunity to cause confusion and this season we’ve utilised this part of the game to maximum advantage at times.

We don’t have an elite 30-goal-a-season striker and that’s why having that ability to draw on different types of approaches and goals might just be a big difference maker for us this season. You’d certainly hope so anyway. If we can continue to leverage that dominance from corners, free kicks, etc, then who knows what the next few months may bring, eh?

That’s it from me today. Off to the Big Smoke for some work. You guys have a good one.