Arsenal dropped tamely away from contention in the Premier League during the turbulent first half of the season, when Wenger’s gamble on keeping Alexis Sanchez back-fired and it caused major rifts in the dressing room and on the pitch. The will-he-won’t-he saga with Mesut Ozil didn’t help much either.
But with the departure of Sanchez and the arrival of Aubameyang and Mhkittaryan (and Ozil’s re-signing) the spirit in the team became more unified again and they are now starting to get a run together. This new togetherness was emphasised by the generous gesture of Aubameyang giving away the chance of a hat-trick by letting Lacazette take the penalty against Stoke on Sunday.
Arsene Wenger pointed out the fact that this should be normal when a team plays for each other as unit. “People are surprised when you’re generous. It should be normal. That’s what I find great, that it will only help the team to make us stronger.
“We have a great spirit in the team. If we didn’t have a great spirit and a great strength, we would not have recovered from the League Cup final. Let’s go from there and continue to win.”
The Boss also believes that this solidarity is what galvanized the team to massively improve their performance in the second half against the Potters. He said: “Yes. Personally, I felt it was not so much about football, more mental. We broke up two weeks ago, came back, switched off, we’ve got a big [Europa League] game, not a lot to go for in the Premier League in some people’s minds. Football does not stop and go, it’s about keeping continuity in your performances. The players realise that. I think that this group of players is very healthy, very strong, has got solidarity and responded very well in the second half.”
We certainly have seemed more unified since Alexis left and it is great to see the new players bonding so well, especially as you would expect Lacazette to be a bit peeved that Aubameyang replaced him in the first team. If we can keep this spirit for the rest of the season into the next (and bring in some great defenders) then it will augur well for the next campaign. We may have little to play for this season but we can prepare ourselves to mov forward next year.