While Arsenal got off to s slow start to the current Premier League campaign, a lot of people’s pre-season favourites Manchester City hit the ground running and seemed to have instantly adapted to the ways of their new manager Pep Guardiola, which was certainly not what Arsenal fans wanted to see.
Despite the fact that Arsenal dropped points at home to Middlesborough recently, we still find ourselves neck and neck with Man City, as their early promise had disappeared and been replaced with the longest winless run of the Spaniard’s career as a coach.
That run included a heavy 4-0 pasting against Pep’s former side Barcelona and I for one was hoping that all this would have a very negative effect on their confidence and morale, which would be a big boost to our own hopes of winning the EPL title.
But the chances of Arsenal being crowned champions of England next May could now be looking slimmer after Man City followed on from the heavy league win over West Brom with an outstanding European victory over Pep’s former club. Now we are hearing from buzzing City players who sound brimming with confidence again.
Zabaleta said, “We had started the season really well, winning all the games in the Premier League and the Champions League, until we had a small blip.
“Perhaps people were talking about a crisis or saying we doubted our style of play a little bit, but we responded well in the last couple of games.
“Obviously Pep’s way is to believe in hard work, believe in what we’re doing, what we’re working towards, and that’s the best way to go.”
Aguero said, “I’ve experienced many different important nights, and this was another one that not only me but the whole team enjoyed.
“We also could feel the support from the fans and that was important for our confidence. It was a nice game for the memories.”
And Guardiola said, “It is a good step to say that once in our lives we played against the best team in the world and we beat them.
“If you talk about the whole performance then, for the first 38 minutes, we were still not able to compete with the best clubs in the world,” said Guardiola.
“But, in the second half, it was different. I saw my players were upbeat – they knew they had gone through their bad moment. That sureness Barca had in the first half, we were able to turn that around.
“Now they will realise that they have beaten the best team. Future generations will see that and know they have to do that again. That is a process.
“It was the same with the group of players with Joe Hart and Vincent Kompany who won the title twice in five or six years together. The players arriving at the club now understand they have to do that, or try to do that too.”
The Arsenal players have to focus on their own performances, of course, and it remains to be seen if City will power on after this result but I cannot help but feel it will give them all a huge boost and will help the new manager to get the players doing what he wants.
Will that make them too strong for Arsenal or have the Gunners got enough to finish above any other team in the league? A win over Tottenham in the derby would certainly make me feel a lot better about our chances…