“What an arrogant team selection” I saw someone comment just before kick off on Sunday.
90 minutes later Arsenal had won 5-1.
No Mesut Ozil; Aaron Ramsey, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Sokratis on the bench.
I can see why some were a little worried about a “weak” side prior to kick off, but it perhaps showed a lack of faith in the manager who has had a fabulous start to his Arsenal’s career.
I saw some people compare it to an Arsene Wenger-era line up. This baffled me. Wenger is gone. Support the new regime. The new team.
The reality of the starting XI was it only 3 or 4 players shy of its strongest line up (depending on if you think Ramsey is in the strongest XI).
Ozil was out with a back strain, and Aubameyang and Ramsey both also missed mid week (there has been a cold flying about). Sokratis has also been managing a slight knee injury that he picked up against Everton a couple of weeks ago.
So the XI that Emery put out was the strongest, fittest XI available.
The fact that the side brushed away an albeit poor Fulham side without key players shows the confidence flowing through the side right now. And it is not just the first team that is riding high.
Momentum is such a big thing in sport.
At the weekend Lewis Hamilton won the Japanese Grand Prix. It was his 4th win in a row. Meanwhile Sebastian Vettel finished 6th, and has failed to make the top 2 in the last 4 races. It puts the British driver in a position where he could win the title at next race at Austin.
Hamilton has all the momentum, Vettel has none of it.
Arsenal are similar at this moment in time. We are not particularly playing much better than last season, but the momentum is with the side, leading us to 9 wins in a row.
Last season, conceding just before half-time to go in at 1-1, we would have capitulated in the second half. Just like we would not have hung on against Cardiff, Newcastle and Everton to take the victory. But winning breeds confidence, and the momentum that go’s with that is as important as any tactics and motivational pre-game speeches.
8 games into the season and we sit in 4th place; just 2 points off top.
Up next is a two week international break. Hopefully this does not break our momentum. When we return on October the 22nd, it will be Leicester at home, a good opportunity to make it 10 wins in a row. Sporting, Crystal Palace and Blackpool in the League Cup follow that before a home game against Liverpool.
That Liverpool game will really show where we are this season and what we can expect. Win, and we can start looking higher than top 4. Perhaps not fully in the title race as Manchester City look fantastic, but certainly in the race to be “best of the rest”.
Lose and the media will jump on top of us. Point out that our 3 games against the top sides have ended in defeat. Our target then realistically is 4th.
If we can go into that Liverpool game still on the coat tails of Manchester City, we will still be brimming in confidence.
What we are learning in recent weeks is that we need to trust the new manager. We need to trust his team selection. And we need to trust that he knows what he is doing.
Remove the negativity of years gone past and jump aboard the new Arsenal train. We are a club going places.
It feels good being an Arsenal fan again.