This morning before I headed in to the office I did my usual run to get my day started and I listened to another podcast that is on my regular rotation, from the lads over at The Arsenal Opinion podcast and they got in to a discussion that I’ve been thinking about myself over the last couple of weeks:

Are Arsenal peaking too soon?

I know this probably sounds a little irrational, it probably sounds a bit crazy given how well we are playing right now and of course we’ve seen City embark on 12, 13 or 14+ winning streaks that have romped them to the season conclusion and the Premier League trophy. But I’m a 40+ year old Gooner who has the battle scars of Premier League campaigns of yesteryear and what I’ve seen over the year’s has given me enough battle scars to think very irrationally and nervously. Hence why I’ve had this little seed planted in the far reaches of my neural network in my brain that is sending seeds of fear to me over whether or not our current barnstorming form is about a month too early.

Crazy, right?

I mean, why look a gift horse in the mouth? Why ignore every single underlying metric that says that this football team under Mikel Arteta are that good and that this is in fact the Arsenal that has existed all season, not the stuttering one from earlier in the campaign?

And how long can a team ‘peak’ for? In my head a peak feels like it’s about a month and that’s probably why I have this seed of doubt creeping in that we can maintain this run for a prolonged period of time. We’re not City. We have an expensively assembled squad, for sure, but it’s not like City’s expensively assembled squad. Maybe we can get there, maybe we are already there but I just don’t see it because I have my preconceptions as to what we are and who we are up against, but I just worry that when the games start to really crunch, we might have used up all of our juice.

Or maybe not. Maybe we can ‘do a City’ and go on a run which see’s us peaking at the right time and that extending right in to May. It feels like we’re going to have to. We have a bloody hard April set of fixtures and if we’re still in the Champions League it’s going to get even more difficult. We’re going to need to show a really grind about this team and that’s where these returning players back from injury have to be vital to us. We’re going to need Zinchenko back. We’re going to need Gabriel Jesus back. We’re going to need Fabio Vieira, Smith Rowe, Partey, Timber and Tomiyasu all back and all ready to play significant minutes. It feels like we’ve been fortunate of late because we’ve seemingly had a fair few periods of time in which the players and coaching staff have been able to get full weeks on the training ground before we play again and this week we have the same. But if we go deep in the CL then that won’t last. April will get rather stretched and Arteta is going to have to be thinking about three or four rotations in his starting XI from Wednesday to Saturday, rather than just the one like he made against Newcastle this weekend just gone.

And we’re going to need the whole squad to peak, not just the current XI who are hitting form. We will need to see Partey quickly assimilate himself back in to this side, because he’s going to play (if he stays fit). So will Fabio Vieira and all of the others listed above. If we navigate past Porto we will have to play Brighton away, a Champions League midweek game, then Aston Villa at home. That’s a bloody hard run and so where my irrational fear of us ‘peaking too soon’ comes from is looking at that and thinking “£imagine if we’ve used all of our juice by the time that grind comes around”.

I know it sounds silly. I know that this Arsenal team has shown an ability to grind out results and perhaps the matches pre Christmas when we were picking up wins but it being a bit of a slog will bode well for this side, but I just worry that the ‘peak’ has come a month early. That is of course if you go by my arbitrary timeline of a ‘peak’ of footballing pinnacle lasts around a month. Heck, if this Arsenal team keep bagging goals like we have for another month, I’ll update my priors and be very happy to look back at this blog and call myself a muppet.

This has felt a very ‘glass half empty’ blog today and for that I apologise, but let me assure you my glass isn’t half empty – despite my words. I, like you I’m sure, am super happy at where we are right now. The team is playing fantastic football, they are a joy to watch, we are looking every bit the best and in form team in the Premier League right now as it stands. But we need that in April and May too, not just in February and I hope we all get our wish for that to happen. A lot will depend on the whole squad as I’ve already mentioned and so the right kind of re-integration of those injured players back in to the squad feels like it could be every bit as important as those players who are currently purring, maintaining their form.

Let’s hope our ‘peak’ can be longer than a month. Let’s hope it lasts until May.

Catch you wonderful humans tomorrow.