The Michael Thomas Column
What a great week it has been and turn around of fortunes for the club. Three weeks ago, Spurs were top of the League and Arsenal bottom and now we are above them. Hopefully they continue to move in this positive direction.
This win has taken Arteta out of the firing line, and now the spotlight has moved on to Nuno Santo, with Tottenham faltering badly after his promising start to the season. Nuno needs the players to work harder and right now Kane is not firing, which doesn’t help along with the fact he doesn’t know who he can trust in the midfield.
But Tottenham’s troubles doesn’t hide the fact that it was a really solid performance from Arsenal. It had energy, goals and tactical prowess. Arteta did a good job in preparing his team and the players responded to the challenge. If they can keep that same level of performance week in week out, we will see a very good season incoming.
Arteta always needed time to bed in the players to his way of thinking. It’s a young group with enormous potential. What Arteta needs now is consistency from the squad and you will see more and more performances like that first half.
There were a lot of critics before the game when Arteta picked Xhaka in the line-up, but Xhaka is an experienced pro. Yes, he has made some mistakes and they have been highlighted more than others, but he still has quality when he plays his game. Xhaka had a very good game on Sunday and I think it was unfortunate that he had to come off injured. Hopefully he has a speedy recovery and the likes of Lokonga, AMN can fill in and bring their qualities to the field.
Spurs fans are adamant that they should have had a penalty when Kane was tripped by Ben White, and I do think Kane was slightly unlucky. The challenge went in and I’m not sure how much of the ball White took, but this happens in football and you don’t get every decision going your way. White got the decision his way and I thought he was excellent on Sunday.
There were 60,000 fans in the stadium (although most of the Spurs fans had left by half time!) and the fans were electric! It makes players put in that extra lung-bursting press when needed and gives them more energy. This will be massive going forward and you’ve heard all the players and manager speak about how much it lifts them, so it is of the utmost importance that the fans stay behind the team for the duration of the season and going forward.
Saka and Smith-Rowe were immense on either side of Aubameyang, so this could be the stepping stone for Arteta to bring more youngsters up from the Academy. There are some promising youngsters at the club. Azeez has recently gone out on loan, Balogun, Patino, Hutchinson to name a few. These players are being amazingly prepared from Per and the coaching staff at Hale End and this can only lead to future success with them pushing into our first team.
As mentioned above there is a long list of good players on the Arsenal academy books but my one stand out is Patino who is creating waves across the Arsenal fan base right now, and Hutchinson for me is a really exciting player so don’t sleep on him.
With Saka, Odegaard and ESR integral to Arteta’s new youth policy, so Alex Lacazette is not getting much of a look in at the moment. Well, Lacazette is in his final year and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him move on at the end of the season. He is an excellent pro and we all know that he has a great influence everyday on the young players so it will be a blow, but a blow Arsenal will have to be prepared for and replace accordingly.
With Gabriel being joined by Tomiyasu and Ben White, and Tiernet back to full fitness, the back line was absolutely immense on Sunday. It looks as if they all want to defend and conceding is punishment for them, and that’s how it should be. They have a real leader in goal behind them who can be heard and seen commanding the players in front, which is always helpful, not to mention they are all younger than 25. This is a big foundation for Arsenal to build on and touch wood so they don’t get any injuries.
It was also an immense day for Mikel Arteta, who is showing signs of proving his faith in the project is coming to fruition. It’s a stepping stone that he will be glad he stood on. Now let’s push on as the season is a long one and go from strength to strength. He is the right man for the job in my opinion.
Onwards and upwards! COYG!