I’m not sure Arsenal can handle the pressure, but right now I’m delighted

So, the next time we see Arsenal will be on Boxing Day, when we will begin to defend a 5-point lead over Man City.

It’s the first time since 2007 Gooners can enjoy their Xmas with the team they love at the top of the table.

We have an 11-point cushion between us and 5th, having played a game less than those in third and fourth.

Remember qualifying for the Champions League was our mission statement this season.

We don’t know how the World Cup will impact on the club’s momentum.

We have to wait till January to see if our owners truly have that ambition have to take us to that next step (because this might be their best chance of bringing the Championship to the Emirates).

Until they prove otherwise, there will always be the uncertainty if our young squad can handle the pressure that is natural in April  and May.

If a battle for the top 4 was too hard for some mentally, how can they then deal with the pressure of a title race?

Yet this weekend gave us hope.

What is undeniable this campaign is our players are learning all the time. As a group and individually they seem to get better every week.

We constantly see improvement.

Battling for wins away from home, grinding out 1-0 wins …… the Gunners are doing what their peers haven’t done for years.

The assumption was we would have to win on Saturday Night to be 1st during the domestic break.

That’s pressure in itself and it was fascinating to see how the youngest 11 in the division handled the occasion.

After all, if we truly want to last the distance, we have to get used to the mind games of playing before or after Man City and the various consequences.

The Champions shock loss at home to Brentford meant the pressure increased.

On route to the Midlands, our boys knew the result at the Etihad.

History tells them that City are not going to give away too many silly points, so when they do, we have to take advantage.

Suddenly even a point would have felt like a missed opportunity.

It’s like the Chase.

You want the Quiz master to get their question wrong but then you need the answer to push them back.

I’m a Gooner scared to dream only because I have been here before.

I been burnt too many times.

I have seen us throw away bigger point tallies then 5.

Danny Welbeck’s injury time header against Leicester was the last time I thought it was our destiny to lift the Prem.

As already mentioned, I couldn’t even trust this group to consolidate 4th last season.

That’s why the result at the Molineux was so significant.

Because we saw this movie before, we know how the story ends.

It would have been very Arsenal-like if hours after Man City slipped up, for us not to show up, for the attitude to not be correct, etc.

Instead, we were composed, professional and while playing at a slow pace in the first half, zero signs that the occasion was too big.

That can only help us going forward.

Every time we get over the line in these conditions it makes it that bit more easier next time.

I wait every week for old habits to creep back in, yet to my delight I’m seeing a version of Arsenal I haven’t seen in nearly two decades.

I hope everyone enjoys the World Cup

Dan Smith

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66 Comments

  1. The owners have already proved their ambition by investing so much and by implementing a long term plan and sticking with it, despite short term revenue being smaller.

    It is of course tempting to think, we can invest another 100 mil in January to make sure, we stay ahead. It is more complicated than that. There is a risk of “rocking the boat”, and we also have to make sure, we only get the exactly right players for the future. The master plan is the future.
    Maybe the right moves can be done in January and maybe not. Nothing to do with the owners willingness, though. That is beyond doubt.

      1. I love this article, I will continue supporting arsenal till my last day on earth. I can’t wait for 2022/2023 trophy coming to Emirate Stadium.
        Up gunners, 1 Love💘💘💕

    1. Lovely saying Anders; I believe we will sign one or two players in January. It’s probably necessary if we want to fight for the title.

    2. If you look since Stan Koronke had control on our board , we certainly have not seen any ambition
      He took us out of Europe and to our worst finsih in 25 years

      1. Wrong.
        He invested a lot, and thought those in charge of the daily running could do the job, they were supposed to do, without him interfering.
        Now they have truly taken charge.
        Your obsession with the Kroenkes is preventing you from a sober analysis.

        1. Okay sober analysis ….just throw an example at you and tell me where ambition is
          I’ll give 4
          Fabregas and Nasri sold replaced by Arteta and benayoun on loan ?
          Van persie sold to man u and not replaced ?
          Slashing the wage bill last January when we needed a striker.
          The super League
          Essentially sacking mr Wenger and Emery for finsihing 5th then awarding Arteta a new contract for 5th
          Where’s ambition

          1. It is amazing.
            Your obsession, or is it hate, makes you draw the wrong conclusions.
            Sacking Wenger and Emery is actually proof of wanting results = ambition.
            So is embarking on a long term plan and investing heavily in it.
            Exactly the kind of ambition that was needed.

            1. Yeah you didn’t answer question
              How was selling Fabregas Nasri and Vanpersie and banking money ambition?
              How was super League ambition ?

              How is rewarding 8th and 5th place finishes wanting results ?

              1. Your are confused.
                Throwing individual names around as if they have anything to with it.
                In Wenger’s last few years Arsenal were in the top 3-4 spenders on transfers and salaries.
                Under Emery we were top 2-3.
                Now under Arteta, we are top 1-2.
                Those are quite simply facts.
                Your constant claiming the owners must spend on this and that to prove ambition is just spreading animosity based on fake facts.

                1. Mate I’ll try one more time ….
                  How was selling best players to rivals and not replacing them ambition ?

                  How was the super League ambition?

                  How was not replacing Auba last January ambition ?

                  1. And it’s fans like you who create animosity ….
                    Having zero standards
                    Telling fans that we should be happy with 8th and 5th

                    1. Nobody is happy when Arsenal is mediocre, but some of us can understand when we have problems and don’t have unrealistic expectations. We have gone through big changes and you can’t expect Arsenal to always deliver top results whatever going on inside our club.

                    2. You will do well to focus on the simple facts. It could raise the standard of your content dramatically, if you made sure, it was based on facts and not your negative feelings towards the owners, Arteta and what have you.
                      Arsenal have for years been among the biggest spenders. That is a verifiable fact, which have been pointed out to you many times.

                    3. Anders tried like 3 or 4 times mate and you can’t answer the most basic of questions
                      That’s the point they are facts and you don’t like it
                      Factually Nasri, Fabregas , Vanpersie , Adeyabyore , Toure , Clichy , Sagna all left to rivals
                      Factually they were going to take us to the Super League
                      Factually they sacked Wenger and Emery for 5th then awarded Arteta for the same
                      Factually we didn’t bring in a striker last January
                      Factually under their.ownership we finished in our worst finish in 25 years
                      Since they came on the board we factually regressed

                      I have given you about 4 chances to counter any of those points
                      Your just saying there lies without any evidence

                      If you or any other fan think they have done a great job then that’s your opinion but don’t try to rewrite history

                      Oh and factually my articles get quite allot of traction lol

                    4. So players leave or voluntarily or involuntarily when sold. Has nothing to do with owners ambition.
                      For years the owners have made plenty of money available for Wenger, Emery and Arteta and the rest of the management to build the teams, they wanted. Owners don’t buy and sell the individual players – thank God.
                      One final thing, you should make an effort to try and understand the cleverness in the current long term plan, then you would probably also get, why getting rid of Auba was good and why it was important not to buy any new striker, but instead stay true to the long term plan, which is actually very ambitious and which is why, we have the most promising squad for around 15 years or so.
                      I know it doesn’t suit your agenda and predictions, but it actually looks very good.

                    5. Not replacing them would be a sign of a lack of ambition ?
                      If you replace Fabregas and Nasri with Arteta and Benayoun and let van persie go to united , I say that’s lack of ambition mate .
                      I would say super League was lack of ambition ( there was a protest so it’s not just me )
                      Which was my point about this January
                      Let’s see if they take that extra step or just settle for top 4 ( like they did under Wenger )

                      And I agree mate right now it looks very good but that doesn’t mean we can’t say last decade hasn’t been good enough

      2. The Kroenkes has controlled Arsenal since August 2018. There’s no doubt that they have changed their approach after assuming full control of the club.

        1. Yeah but since like 2010 they had control on board , we regress since
          And no since 2018 we finished 8th , 8tn and 5th
          Factually our word finish In 25 years

          That’s why this January will be telling

          1. I don’t remember a stress free Christmas as a Gunner in a loooooong time!!!
            If that is not a sign of ambition ….then I don’t know what else to wish for!

          2. Controlling the board in a club with several shareholders with different ambitions. Did you expect them to use their resources without controlling the club? It was never going to be easy to replace Wenger after more than two decades as our manager. Yes we finished 8th, 8th and 5th with three different managers and one interim manager. From my point of view do that reflects the reality at our club during difficult times.

    3. We need reinforcement in January and,it will be best for us to go for players with Premier league experience.Players will Wilfred Zaha and Teileman can give us the depth we need to challenge City for the title.With the right balance I see no reason why we can’t go all the way.

  2. I was nervous when Man City lost to Brentford at the Etihad. I felt the pressure would be too much for our boys to handle.
    Then Wolves made the game difficult in the first half. Trying their best to hit us on the counter. However, in the second half, we stepped up our game and won. So, we’re five points clear at the top.
    It’s been Man City’s best start in 4/5yrs, yet we’re five points ahead of them. It goes to show the good work Arteta has done so far with these young lads.
    If the board backs him to bring in two or three key players in January, then there’s serious hope for a title push.
    For now, I’m almost 100% confident that we’ll make Top4.
    Let’s just sit back and enjoy this world cup, with that top of the table feeling.
    😄😄😄😄

    1. I don’t know if it’s my age, but I tend to live for today and try not to think too far ahead.The same applies to supporting Arsenal where I focus only on the next game, something which I suspect I have in common with our Manager and, hopefully, our players.Rea!istically, there are bound to be a few set backs on the road ahead, but if our key players can remain healthy, and we can continue to be strong mentally,we just might make all the doubting pundits and the media in general, look extremely unprofessional and silly.That in itself should help motivate all who wear the red shirt this season.

  3. I saw this coming since last season, because arsenal did well against most small teams last season.

    What has changed, this season, is the fact that each player in the first eleven has improved. We are now compact as a team.

    We no longer depend on one player to score or defend, it’s now everyone’s responsibility to do both.

    I don’t see any weakness in this arsenal team after the world cup except for injury to some key players.

    Else, arsenal will win the league. Because, arsenal is currently playing the style of football that is in compliance with winning in football.

  4. Dan…

    Well-written as always, and your anxieties are entirely understandable!

    Again, it is great to have received an unexpected gift, that is, being at the top of the league practically halfway through the season.

    Even though our goals have changed from finishing in the top four to being in the running for the premiership, nevertheless, we must avoid putting too much pressure on a future that no one can predict with certainty.

    I have always maintained that the league table is merely an output. If we pay more attention to the inputs and the process, the output almost becomes a variable that can be controlled.

    Consequently, the outcome (finishing in the top four or winning the league) is simply a matter of time if players are kept fit and motivated and implement the fundamentals of football with confidence. So, as fans, maybe it would be better to stop worrying about whether or not our team will fall apart under pressure and instead focus on the process, both technically and operationally, as Arteta seems to be doing right now.

    The personnel at the moment (the first team members) is far more suited to competing strongly, and thus the odds of finishing in the top four are greater than ever before… Consequently, instead of putting pressure on ourselves (as fans) and trying to predict the future, let us simply enjoy the moment and take each game as it comes!

    Cheers! Remain positive!

    1. Spot on
      Agree we must master our input with a very good investement and a clear plan……Wenger was beyond a good coach on the pitch but he was too dogmatic to invest the right amount of money to sustain a poper title challenge
      Football is a business which depends heavily of the input of money so if you don’t invest to catch up your oppenents you be left behind

  5. Very interesting article.

    I totally understand your concerns and to some degree, I share them as well.
    However, it is evident that this team has not only grown physically or tactically, but they have also grown mentally due to how last season ended- there is a certain anger/fire burning in them, and barring any long-term injuries to our important players, I tip us to win the league. COYG!

  6. In addition to my post above, having Zinchenko and Jesus in the dressing room alone raises the belief of the other players I believe, they must have been pushing the lads making them know that it is achievable, I wish the All-or-Nothing was made this season.

    1. Of course All-OR-NOTHING is what is driving our players crazy,u can imagine arsenal players are yet to receive a red card after 14 matches ahahaha, to me Jesus and zinchenko are just like a seasoning added to a soup to make it delicious, we only need to add little spices in January to make it more delicious .

      1. I hope the January signings Will not make the soup sour, like scoring own goals, conceiving red cards n penalties, giving back pass to opponents. Just saying….

  7. Relieving to see the position we are in. Always maintained the belief that the manager just needed time, and good to see everyone finally buying into theidea fully bar a few.
    City fans all over the net, actually football fans all over the world don’t rate us and they don’t see us as a threat unfortunately, but fortunately for us, that can be an advantage. We just have to keep going one game a time. The only problem is we’re competing against a maniac. I kid you not, Pep is certainly not underrating Arteta and our boys. The man has some weird obsession with winning all the time so I doubt he’ll be underestimating our boys and taking games lightly.
    We are in a good position, we’ve worked for it and we deserve it, but after the world cup, we’ll have to push harder to get the job done, and we must win a game against City this season. It’s a must!! Tough to see it being at the Etihad, but we must win at the Emirates! Though we have the best away records so far, even keeping 6 clean sheets away.
    We’re definitely signing some players this Jan, so let’s keep the support up.

  8. I’m also proud of our league position, considering that we have a rookie manager and a young squad

    However, we’d better curb our expectation. A fourth-place finish or an EL trophy will be an improvement

      1. I think our next season would depend on our key players’ contract extensions and recruitment in the summer

        1. I’m sure we will get stronger, and I believe we will resign our players. Players out will mean funds for investments and a potentially stronger squad. I think our players want to be a part of the project of making Arsenal great again 🙂

  9. Arsenal are already champions that much is certain. It will take a miracle to deny us our long overdue trophy.

    I don’t buy the process I buy the results.

    Go gunners,
    Go Champions.

  10. Not sure . …if only we can travel to the future…😁 Before we finish this season the world cup is finished…😁

  11. Keep the faith and stay positive whatever happens; this is just the beginning.

    We’ve got Super Mik Arteta,
    He knows exactly what we need,
    Kieran at the back, Gabi in attack,
    Arsenal on the way to Champions League.

    1. Must not forget, as well, that Xhaka was taken ill- and I believe others too had jippy tummies at the weekend
      Can’t remember the exact incident but Saliba made a mistake and was given support from those nearby- rather than a filthy look. It’s about the team and working for each other. I don’t know what other revelations will come from Ronaldo but that is the last thing you need. We found that out with PEA. Let the harmony continue and the never say die attitude as well.
      Agree with comments above that the squad have learned a lot, as Arteta will have done too and the signings from ManC have been a revelation
      I can’t predict the future but I’ll stick my neck out and go for top3

  12. I think, Dan, that the answer to this season and even nerxt, will have a lot to do with the January window. Last January window we screwed up….that we all know. Now our team is ‘coming good’, it would be self harm not to expand our squad with quality in this January window. Otherwise what is the point?
    We have the best chance to win the league, in fact, and not fantasy, that we have had for so long. A few injuries would make us kaput. We MUST get a Thomas understudy that is up to his quality. Sadly Sambi is not. We need Odegaard cover as he is our creative inspiration, so maybe Maddison/Tielemans. We need front cover, as an injury to Jesus or Saka/Martinelli would be devastating. Whether we can win the league depends on the January window……for SURE.

  13. A welcome, if massively long overdue, bit of optimism from the usually dismal DAN.
    Hrad to criticise his hope as we surely all shar eyhat hoipe evenif SOME of our heads won;t allow us to get carried away. But I loathed his final line of “hoping we all enjoy thr world cup”!

    I HOPE AND PRAY THAT SOMETHING, ANYTHING SHORT OF A HUMAN TRAGEDY, WILL EVEN NOW PREVENT THIS CORRUPT CHARADE FROM TAKING PLACE AT ALL. All those who hold proper life principles will join me in entirely shunning this evilly awarded fake WC!

  14. The WC is a massive unknown here. Players can come back in the form of their lives, and on top of the world…. or injured, tired out, confidence shattered. Whatever.

    It’s going to be a huge factor for the big teams with 5/6/7 players out there. Not in MA’s control in any way shape or form.

    Even if we buy, and well, in January – those signings need to hit the ground running. That doesn’t always happen, even with players who come good after 1/2 or a full season.

    It’s too early to say we will win the league. Of course, I hope we do. We have a chance. Neville thinks City by 15 points. Yeah, no. They are not going 20 points better than us over the rest of the season. Not unless WC f******p up completely, while leaving City unscathed. But we can’t discount them, not by a long shot.

    From this position, we must secure CL next season, and I’m really confident we will. If we do that we are on track. Anything more is a huge bonus.

    That said – COYG!!!

  15. Am super excited and proud to call myself an Arsenal fan. After many years of disappointment we have an opportunity to lift the trophy, so boys never let up, keep the winning mentality till the end.

  16. First and foremost Dan, a fine article. Secondly, I keep reminding myself, everytime Arsenal plays this season in the PL, this is a different Arsenal. We have learnt and are continuously learning and improving. We move on step by step and game by game. The mindset is totally different and I feel players like Jesus, Zinchenko and Saliba have totally changed the thinking within the dressing room, we are more optimistic and have a winning mentality seen only during the Invincibles. Like you Dan, I am delighted, but unlike you I am not waiting for our old habits to set in because as I mentioned at the outset, this is a different Arsenal. and one last thing, lot of credit goes to Arteta, he has stuck to his guns, stuck to his process, brought major changes within the team, both in terms of tactics and personnel, removed players whom he thought did not fit in his playing style or for their attitude and kudos to the Board for having been patient with him.

  17. I feel the same. I’m delighted with our performances but worried that we’ll slip into old habits

  18. well i’m so happy sitting confortable to watch our players this day and bit you chest amd said we will win, i have watch our matches these day where by in the first 40 minutes where by the opponent will not get to our 18 yard box, well it is do nice watching our boys these days, i hope it contune after the world cup, the fact is that we need a good replacement from party and a striker

  19. Kronke became a major shareholder when Fiman sold to him, then the rest of the Board. Yet Dein sold to Usmanov, setting in motion a power struggle that only Kronke was ever likely to win. I really laugh at people who think their (our) love of Arsenal would overshadow any sound business practices in the event they controlled a multi million (now billion) pound business, because in the end it’s a business that needs to make a profit, or go bust.
    So, for the record – as Josh Kronke stated in “All or nothing” KSE has only had control of Arsenal since 2018. Before that, any substantial and major investment in Arsenal would have benefitted Usmanov to the extent where he may have never sold out and just made tons of “hostile profit” on the back of the Kronke’s funding. That was never going to happen and it didn’t.
    Since 2018, we have made steady progress and set a plan into action by hiring Arteta and backing him.
    Stop whining about the Kronkes. They may prove to be the best thing that ever happened to Arsenal. And if you do, remember the great David Dein that (admittedly was a great contributor to our success by finding and backing Arsene) sold the shares he bought for a couple of hundred grand to Usmanov for 75 million. Therein lies the story of Arsenal from the late 2000’s to 2019.

    1. Well we havnt have we lol
      Since 2018 we finished 8th , had zero European football then finished 5th
      How’s that progress when we sacked Emery for 5th and some mocked Wenger for only finsihing 4th
      Under the Koronke Family ownership we had our worst league finish in 25 years but that’s progress somehow ?

    2. Oh and Stan Koronke had control and voting rights of the club since 2008 when he had like 28 per cent of shares .
      In 2011 that rose to 66 percent meaning he essentially had control of the club
      Look where we were in 2008 or 2011 and show me the progress ?

      1. Wanna know,was there a clause that stated….If the majority shareholder in Kroenkes invested huge sum in the club it would benefit other shareholders? Making it hard for the initial big investor(kroenkes) to realise the profits they expected,if that’s so I do appreciate how the kroenkes cautiously went about their business.
        So now that they solely own the club, the baby steps they’re making are highly appreciated and waiting for what Josh Kroenke said that,‘‘they are going to make the best thing that’s ever happened to the club’’
        Psa. Just happy about the current progress and definitely certain the old habits won’t creep in, not even a single bit🤞

  20. @ Mike M so instead of the Kroenkes backing Wenger and leading us to possible success when we were always 2-3 players away from winning the title and possibly competing for the CL trophy as well between 08-18 you are here praising the Kroenkes for putting their personal feud with Usmanov and not wanting to share any profit with him over the interest of the clubs progression in the time frame hmm…

      1. 👍🏽Because we look like we are heading on an upward trajectory, all of a sudden KSE are ‘great owners’ and many fans have forgotten the previous 10 or so years of neglect. For me personally when we start competing for major honours over a sustained period of time(equivalent to amount of seasons where we stood still) only then should they be looked at in a different light.

  21. I’m not certain of the details but Dein and Fizman were partners in their major shareholding. Here’s what I believe happened and everything that happened subsequently bears it out.
    Kroenke met the Board and purchased shares on the understanding that he would replace Fizman as a shareholder (custodian) of Arsenal. That’s why the rest of the Board sold to him. When Dein sold, it was most likely because he got more money from Usmanov than Kreonke was willing to pay. I’m certain Dein changed the direction of the original agreement since I’m sure Kroenke was not interested in a hostile takeover or hostile major shareholder.
    So what would you do? It’s not about profit sharing, more about the overall share price once Usmanov sold, which could have cost KSE 100’s of millions if we’d been successful. The whole point about being close but never quite getting there shows, especially now, that KSE was keeping Arsenal going but not going the extra mile.
    As an Arsenal diehard fan (52 years) I wish they’d done more. But I’m willing to concede that they played a waiting game which although I don’t like, I completely understand. For the record, I don’t know any of this to be factual but I’ve read and researched it a lot and the reality seems to back it up. I really hope KSE can make up for those lost years, if so, it’s going to be great being a Gooner for a while – until they decide to cash in, which seems somewhat inevitable, but looking at their sports ownership record, may be a while.

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