Arsenal proved against Man City that we now have the mental strength to be the very best

A point may mean that our destiny is no longer in our own hands. A draw would have been the result Liverpool had craved. Yet in the long-term Arsenal’s 0-0 on Sunday is a scoreline that was huge mentally for our young squad and a turning point in our history.

I often preach your mental strength is crucial in sport, what separates the good from the great. The only way you gain that is by experiencing and gaining knowledge. While we surrendered our lead in the title race at the weekend, what we did at the Etihad will help us going to places like Old Trafford and the Allianz Arena.

The Gunners did something at Man City that previous versions have failed to do for nearly a decade. You could argue that not since the years of ‘Boring Boring’ Arsenal have we had the ability to do what we did at Easter.

For years we begged for Arsenal to be able to go to a tricky away ground and have the skill set to grind out a stalemate.

Make zero mistake; it’s a skillset to do what we did in Manchester. For all of their possession, the Champions had one shot on target. A failure of the home team to score at their house for the first time in 57 consecutive games. If that were a prime Jose Mourinho or Rafa Benitez it would be called a masterclass.

Gabriel and Saliba marshalled our back 4 like a John Terry in his peak. To focus for 90 minutes, to not mistime your tackle, to throw your body in the way, etc is an art form.

David Raya equally only had to make one save when these two faced at the Emirates. That’s not a coincidence. It’s Mikel Arteta tactically putting a plan together.

Not just is this a fixture we haven’t won in nearly a decade, usually we concede 3 – 5 goals. So even to get to half time still in the game was an improvement from previous years. Our manager also showed he has learnt, recognising the number of times we have conceded in the first 20 mins. This time we had the game management to get through the early storm.

This time we were not naive enough to say, ‘you play we play’, smart enough to realise our limitations.

Some pundits said we had to win to lift the Premiership. Others said we missed the chance with Pep Guardiola forced to play not his first choice back 5.

That’s thinking short term. This was an occasion that will help us in the future, an injection of confidence we can use when needed, a memory to draw upon when uncertain, a cape when we next feel we are falling, a blanket when we desire comfort.

I don’t know how costly this result will be in terms of the title race.

All I ever ask is Arsenal be the best version of themselves. That’s all I can ask.

For years we haven’t done that at the Etihad. We did on Sunday. A performance of maturity and proof that we are growing up. Mentally a turning point for this team.

Dan


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Tags Man City v Arsenal

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  1. I believe Arsenal with what’s at stake and the position we’re in have the drive and mentality to go on and win every game left! (They might have to to win the league) Watch this space!

  2. Yes the game against the champions showed Against has genuine mettle. It prove we can go to Munich with tails high over our backs.

    It shows tremendous progress over last season where we succumbed to the pressure.

    Didn’t lose a sleep over the game in Manchester and the trend is expected to continue to Munich, by the way a mouth watering tie, laden with old scores to settle.

        1. But I’m not saying I was correct
          He’s boasting that he was right to say he didn’t need to lose any sleep.
          Me saying we wouldn’t win at all three of Ethiad , Old Trafford and Spurs is correct ?

  3. I strongly feel this new found mentality may be what lands us the Champs league because for once, the team have grit and mettle- ingredients you need to last the mile.

  4. It was a good performance. It has been a long, long time since we had that type of defensive effort, even more so on the road and at City.

    Whether it is enough in the end remains to be seen, but going forward in CL against some of the monsters, it shows a plan and a way.

    There are more twists and turns to come in EPL but Liverpool seem determined to find a way to win for Klopp – he is a great motivator anyway and they are getting the squad back for the run-in.

    All we can do is win the next game then reassess and repeat…

  5. Worrying part is MA has just 1 year left in his contract and he hasnt extended. Will he be taken away by barca ?

    1. He isn’t going anywhere. Dude is Arsenal through and through. He would have just taken the job and ran with the usual things as a manager if he was willing to jumpships at the profitable turns. Instead, he took flak and took it in his face for years now working on the “lesser” things such as building a culture, mentality, and such abstract ideas when fans wanted only goals and wins. That means he cares about Arsenal, not just where it is on the table, and how many trophies it won, but at a more deeper, level. What it means to be Arsenal. And how to convey that to the world, by playing football. That’s not on job specification for any managers I would say, that is a burden Mikel took on his head because he cares deeply.

  6. Great article Dan!

    Arsenal are more than ready now to deal with Bayern in the CL. They proved that in the Etihad draw that they can dig and get a result without the atmosphere getting in their heads.
    That was the only concern with the Bayern match that many were speculating that the atmospheres might just be too big for Arsenal players to beat them at football. Now, I think it’s Bayern that should be worried.

    And as an average fan, me saying this is exactly what the man city draw meant. If an average fan like me feels positive about historically unfavored and tough draws like Bayern, it must have similar impact on the players as well. If our players play their football at their most composed without the atmosphere getting in their heads, (which they actually proved they can with man city), Bayern are in trouble.

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