Arsenal beat the Champions Man City on Sunday to go into the international break jointly top of the League with Spurs, the only two unbeaten sides in the division left.
We earned 3 points to go 2 points clear of Man City. Yet it was more than that ….so much more!
In many ways the impact this has on the title race is thinking only short term.
Long term this was a result this squad has needed for years, a barrier broken down, belief they can bottle.
It doesn’t change the years of hurt, the reality remains that we are competing against one of the best with unlimited resources. Only a fool would write Pep Guardiola off. City won a treble in the last campaign having been told all Xmas something wasn’t quite right at the Etihad.
Yet from now on, every time we face the Citizens it will be easier, if we get to March and again they are chasing us down – the pressure will feel lighter, players will have more composure, fans will be less crippled by the fear of failure.
That’s why Gooners celebrated like they did, the reason Gunners dropped to their knees on the pitch, an explanation for Arteta overcome with happiness. So much bigger than just a league victory, even against a rival.
Anyone who’s watched this team long enough knew that one deflection off Ake’s face was the equivalent of a bag of rocks being taken off our backs.
Not just for the 2023 version but all of those before them.
For two decades talent weighted down by the stigma of being the bridesmaids, each year adding to our reputation of going missing when it counts, the perception that the higher the stakes the more likelihood North London would choke.
That’s how unique this weekend was.
A rare moment in time.
A period of our history that we could look back on and see as the turning point.
The moment Arteta turned the tide, the first big step to something special, the time to stop looking back to the past.
For years, our bodies have been willing but our minds not.
In sport skill can only get you so far. What separates the good from the great, is that the great have the mindset, they don’t panic, they are not dictated by emotion, they don’t just perform with the lights on bright, they excel with a smile on their face.
That’s why the Emirates had that strange atmosphere yesterday.
Because since being built it hasn’t got that legacy of hosting famous European nights or being witnessed to lifting League titles.
Even when a Liverpool or Chelsea were not better than their opponents, those in the stands had faith because an Anfield or Stamford Bridge had walls that could talk.
Memories to call upon.
With 20 mins remaining we had a choice to make.
It became a chess game between two managers, the teacher offering the apprentice to essentially accept a draw.
That’s where we were heading, a goalless draw.
Not a bad result for either.
Would Arsenal be content with a point? To not risk a loss?
Because a City win without KDB and Rodri would have mentally been devastating. One we might not have recovered from.
If they still beat us without their star DM and play maker, then that’s a blow to the psyche.
Would not losing for once to City now being seen as progress?
Or would we be brave?
Would there be heart?
A willingness to want more?
Pride to only be content with the best?
Not afraid to take that next step?
On and off the pitch, for too long that’s the club we have become.
Not bad by any means but a willingness to never be fantastic again.
Comfortable to only finish top 4th, 5th called progress, labelled good by our own CEO!
Previous incarnations don’t take that next step, they play not to lose instead of trying to win.
In a sense injury actually helped us.
Martinelli and Partey were not deemed fit enough to start, but it meant our subs made us a stronger 11 by the end.
The underrated Brazilian was the one player on the pitch who seemed to want to take a chance, to directly charge at a defender, he eventually won the raffle for having the gumption to purchase a ticket.
I like to think Havertz and even Tomiyasu choosing to stride forward was tactical. Suddenly their height gave us a plan B, an alternative.
All 4 subs contributed to our winner, how often does that happen!
Don’t get me wrong, from a quality standpoint this wasn’t a great watch, but I like to think that was intentional.
Arsenal have been entertaining before – but unlucky.
I rather us be conservative then be good on the eye but naive.
We managed that 90 minutes in manner we didn’t have the tools to do so previously.
We haven’t been Champions since 2004. In that period there have been near misses.
So, I won’t be getting carried away in October or making any bold assumptions after just 8 fixtures into the season.
Yet if we lift the holy grail in May, don’t forget October 8th.
Because that was the moment we breathed again, we found our voice box, the world heard us shout, we didn’t ask we took, we stopped watching our peers and wished it was us, we had the ambition to not just chase our dreams but to go and catch them.
CALLING ALL ARSENAL FANS! Anyone who would like to contribute an Article or Video opinion piece on JustArsenal, please contact us through this link…