When Mikel Arteta took over the reigns as Arsenal Manager, his first fixture against a top six side was against Chelsea at The Emirates Stadium. The match resulted in a loss that the Gunners failed to see out at 1-0 up and lose the eventual fixture 2-1. Arsenal could challenge for the title next season if they play with the intensity that Mikel Arteta is steadily building his team with. The victory shows Arsenal to be around the same level performance wise as the current top six, and, in relation to the current top four, one of the better form teams. The win last night as Rio Ferdinand post match the draw could be the turning point in the season.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said in a post match interview with BBC Sport:
”To do that against this kind of opponent in this stadium, I really value, The but way they have done it, with the spirit they have done it, that’s great.
“I wasn’t here a few weeks ago but what I am demanding every day they are trying their best to do it. The togetherness and leadership they showed today, this is what I wanted to see.
“We are going in the right direction but I think tonight is a special night for everybody.”
The Arsenal team have improved game by game since Arteta’s appointment, they have overcome obstacles like red cards and poor refereeing and VAR controversy to see out valuable points turn their season round. The Gunners are not playing their most stylish football but maybe because the team know its boom or bust this season in the race for the top four and most of the players are playing like they have to give everything. It is noticeable those players who are off the pace at the moment.
Gabriel Martinelli has already scored 3 more goals than Nicolas Anelka did in the whole of his first season with the Gunners 1997/98, in far less games. This remarkable statistic is backed up by the player’s attitude to take the game to the opposition, and if the rest of the team learn by his performance and example they can raise their game.
I would propose dropping Pepe for the match against Bournemouth and play Ceballos on the right hand side instead. Pepe is dangerous at his best on the right, but at his poorest lacks confidence and needs to run with his head up to look for passing and shooting options. There were some occasions against Chelsea when he could have shot rather than dribbling with the ball with his head down. Other notable performances for me were Bukayo Saka, Granit Xhaka And Hector Bellerin.
A similar and thinner squad played arguably the most important match and point of the season and may have been the turning point in the season. in the match in which there were were some stellar performances and some below par in the reverse fixture. Despite the lesser performances from Mustafi who looked like a rabbit in headlights for the time he was on the pitch, and perhaps Pepe, it was crucial because had they lost the team would have sat six points adrift of 18th in the Premiership.
I also feel Mesut Ozil’s attitude has improved remarkably since Arteta’s arrival as the player said:
“It is basically getting us back to the old Arsenal virtues. Fighting and having possession, being in control of the game, having the ball all the time. Everyone is smiling, laughing, enjoying their time at the moment and this has made us be successful now.”
It just shows how one players morale or ability to have a negative affect a player can have on a team.
I genuinely feel Arsenal will make the Champions League for next season, but I think the team will lift the Europa League and I do not feel the drawn matches in the league are helping make certain a top four Premier League position. Arsenal can win the Europa League because United for me are the team most likely to reach the final and we have shown we can beat them this season.