Firstly let’s address the elephant in the room.
Last nights victory does not make up for limping out of the FA Cup in the manner we did on Saturday.
But our victory over Southampton was our best performance of the system.
The high press. The high energy. Attacking threat on both flanks and through the middle. Willing runners. And a 3-1 victory.
The 3-1 win over Southampton was our 5th win in 6 Premier League games, starting with THAT win over Chelsea.
We have rocketed up the table, now in 8th.
Just 4 points behind last years champions Liverpool, 5 points off a Champions League place.
It has been a tough old season but the recovery is happening.
Our January form of 3 wins, 1 draw is only bettered by West Ham (4 wins from 4) and Manchester City (5 wins from 5).
If anyone doubts the improvements made under Mikel Arteta since Unai Emery left, you only have to look at the league table 20 games in this year against last year:
It really highlights just how poor we were last season in comparison to this – despite our poor run of form under Mikel Arteta.
30 points from 20 games is still not good enough, and still a long way behind where we were at this stage in the 3 previous seasons prior to last. But the progress is clear.
What is impressive is that goals against column. Just 20 conceded.
Great teams are always built on a strong defence and Arsenal have the 4th best defensive record in the Premier League.
We all know our problems are at the other end of the field, in attack.
14 goals in the last 6 games shows we are improving at that end of the pitch as well.
What sums up our improvement is the picture of Nicolas Pepe’s goal last night.
When the Ivorian slotted in, there were 3 players in the box that he could have squared to for a tap in. I have not seen Arsenal flood the box like this for some time.
We are seeing improvements on the pitch, and those improvements are translating into points on the table.
Whilst 4th place would not make up for the way we exited the FA Cup, we would show the huge steps forward made under Arteta.
Taking into account that run of games where we could not win, even top 6would show solid improvement.
There is still a long way to go but for now, in the short term at least, it feels like we are moving forward.
Up next Manchester United…
I think it does make-up for ‘limping’ out of the Cup last Saturday. More than makes-up for it. Points mean prizes and with the congested fixture list, something had to go. I’d prefer it to be the FA Cup over PL points and EL progression.