Palace v Arsenal Thoughts by Dan Smith
The one good thing about disappointment is it can hurt so much it stays with you.
It lives in your consciousness, a constant reminder that you must never let it happen again.
Arsenal players have had all summer to summarize how they missed out on the top 4.
At their core they know there were too many fixtures where they were mentally weak, on occasions guilty of not showing up for the fight, victims of complacency.
If you’re not going to buy experience, you need to develop leaders from within.
The youngest squad in the division will be better now they are a year older.
Saka, Smith Rowe, Martinelli, etc don’t need a Xhaka warning them about the dangers of not showing up with the right attitude.
They lived it.
Forest, Newcastle, Spurs, Man City, Brentford, Palace, Brighton at home …. forget the results, the performances were consequences of a weak mindset.
In other words, there was zero excuse to be caught cold on Friday night.
That’s where the Gunners are at.
Can they in crucial moments of games and the campaign have the game management to get over the line?
That’s what made Friday’s win as impressive as if we had won 4-0.
The manner of the victory was one that we wouldn’t have not managed even two years ago.
Grinding out 3 points, playing ugly, wasn’t in our DNA.
While in not enough matches, there were examples where we were learning how to win ugly. At Villa Park and Molineux there was an acceptance to try and protect a 1-0 score line, tolerance to roll up their sleeves and fight and scrap. Very un-Arsenal like.
At Selhurst Park in the first half, in many ways it was one of our most complete performances under Arteta.
His vision is coming true. Not only was our quality on the ball world class, off the ball we did what was only possible after months of detailed training where every last detail is obsessively focused on. If you want to know why our manager demands every player to follow his values, it was for nights like this, where every individual was desperate to win back possession the second it was lost.
Where our boss could get critiqued is that once we were ahead, he showed too much caution. Whether it’s not having the energy or the Spaniard being conservative, there’s a few times where he will sit back on an advantage which encourages the opposition. One of those occasions was when the Eagles were at the Emirates.
We dominated the first half that evening then allowed Vieira’s men to dictate the tempo and grow in belief, to the point they were outplaying us.
That didn’t quite happen on the opening day but when it was clear the 2nd half was more even, Arsenal were prepared to dig deep, throw bodies in the way and battle.
Palace play in a manner where your concentration has to be 100 percent. Their attackers are direct, who run at the defence, inviting a trip, trying to win fouls. One mistake could lead to a penalty, yet we stayed focused.
Again, Arsenal don’t win this game a couple of years ago.
I point out when Arsenal are mentally weak, it’s only right when I point out when we show heart, courage and resolve. A night where boys grew into men…