Morning Top Of The League FC. Or as we are now called: Top At Christmas FC.
It was Played No One Decent FC, then Collapse In October FC. After a draw away to Southampton it was Burnout FC. But here we are, going into the World Cup, top of the league.
What will be next? My bet is “Arsenal haven’t played Man City or Newcastle” or “they will collapse after the World Cup.
But let’s ignore the naysayers and just enjoy our Christmas dinners!
We have turned a brilliant pre-season into a brilliant start to the season. It is more than any of us could have hoped.
I still do not expect us to win the title. Very few Arsenal fans can say they are confident about us being Champions. Opposing fans will try and paint a different picture, that we need to be humbled. But the reality is we are just enjoying having a competitive team again.
We are too and we deserve to be there.
There has not really been a game that we have won that we didn’t deserve too (victory over Leeds the only one that gets close). We have not had those Spurs games where they have been behind, and just scrapped through.
And in the two games we dropped points, we can point to being on the wrong side of refereeing decisions (no penalty against Southampton and opening goal wrongly disallowed against Man U).
Opponents will point to the Liverpool game (when the referee got everything right) as an example of when we got favourable decisions. And Sky are trying to paint a narrative of us being lucky having spent half-time Saturday and 10 minutes after full time bitterly debating a possible penalty that was offside anyway.
We now have a little break for the winter World Cup.
Whilst people might think it will damage our momentum, I think it will have the opposite effect.
Just 10 Gooners will be going.
Over the 10, Bukayo Saka, Granit Xhaka, Thomas Partey, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Matt Turner are the only guaranteed starters. Gabriel Jesus and William Saliba are both 50/50 to start.
Of those 7, Tomiyasu, Xhaka and Partey will probably struggle to make the knockout stages, meaning they will be back with Arsenal in the first week of December.
Saka, Saliba and Jesus are the only candidates to be playing for their country come through quarter finals, and you would expect almost everyone back by the end of the semi-finals (14 December).
That will mean Mikel Arteta should be ready to face West Ham on Boxing Day with the majority of the squad having had at least 12 days without a game. We should be nicer rested.
A Boxing Day visit from West Ham is followed by a New Years Eve trip to Brighton. We then have a tricky period of Newcastle (H), Spurs (A), Manchester United (H) and Everton (A).
If we are still top of the league after the first 6 games back, then I might start believing.
In other news, Tony Adams was knocked out of Strictly last night.
Rumours are he had the votes that guaranteed him being through, but a “hamstring injury” meant he was likely to pull out. That led producers to make the decision to put him in the dance off, ignoring the vote. We can be proud of getting him so far!
Enjoy being top!
Thank you for a very nice analysis of the trajectory of the Arsenal naysayers (insert a more pejorative word if you wish) and also an excellent analysis of the likely involvement of our WC participants. Qatar? Why??