Arsenal have had a really interesting and strenuous start to this season. They lost their first three Premier League matches, before winning their next three prior to the draw to Brighton. As the second international break has finally arrived, it is another plateau for the Gunners and their young boss to rest, recoup, reorganize, and re-emerge for a tough run of matches that will lead the team to the third international break of the year in early November.
Mikel Arteta’s men have ten points to their name now, and their lowest scoring output across as many matches since the mid-1980s when the famous George Graham was in his first year as the boss of the club. Many things have changed since then, and Arsenal for many years were among the highest-scoring and most enjoyable clubs to watch across 20 to 30 years. Today, however, they are a team that has played really well during this second run of matches on the defensive front, while inconsistent offensive efforts continue to plague the very talented and versatile young squad.
While three points from Brighton would have been positive as well, it was not to be, as Graham Potter runs an increasingly positive and well-organized squad, and one that will have to gain the respect of pundits sooner than later with the way they’re playing; they’ve gained the Gunners, to be sure. With the break here for all teams, however, it is a good time to look at what the Gunners will have to do next, as well as what they can improve upon as a squad with the time they have available to them.
These next matches will go further still in helping the young team to define themselves moving forward. When the team comes back from the rest, the practice and the national team responsibilities that many of the players have, Arsenal will face an old friend in Patrick Vieira, except that he is now the boss of cross-London rivals Crystal Palace.
Arsenal: This third run of matches will help to better define the Gunners going on
With both Odsonne Edouard and Wilfried Zaha in the build-up, Vieira will look to take three points away from his old club and Arteta, who will desperately hope to keep his good run of matches going after more time to work on the principles he finds most important to winning football.
The Gunners will host Aston Villa and Leeds United as well, for the Premier League and Carabao Cup respectively, before going to play Leicester at their place as October turns into November. Watford will be the club that sees Arsenal to that aforementioned third international break of the season, yet the team will have to dig out at least nine points and a ticket to the next round of the Carabao Cup for it to be considered a successful segment of matches for both the coach and his team.
As Arteta said just recently, the sound of the Champions League music almost makes him sick, and this club should be back in that position with their historical stature. Yet they are currently not there, and must win a domestic trophy, or finish high on the league table, to re-enter European play, especially the Champions League where Arteta desires to be once again.
Arsenal must win the matches that are inviting them to win, and if they can win the ones that no one believes they can, then that will be added fuel for their European and domestic aspirations. Without taking the teams that you’re supposed to defeat, however, there can be no hope for any trophies or new competitions.
For the Gunners, any European spot will do, and while the boss would prefer the Champions League, the Europa League or even Europa Conference League might be healthier for the team from an organic standpoint. They would each be competitions in which the young Gunners could fare better in across an entire season, and which could be winnable for the club. The Champions League, while prestigious and full of monetary incentives, is full of teams that, as of now, are much better than the Gunners.
That might change, of course. Nothing is set in stone. Yet unless Arteta and company build upon the success of these last matches and can demonstrate real focus and ability, a top-six finish or at least one trophy in either the FA or Carabao Cups might put Arsenal in a good spot to start climbing the proverbial mountain all over again.
Arteta is no longer on the hot seat really – especially after the North London Derby performance – but there is still so much road to go for the Spaniard and his talented squad. He must show that they can all perform with consistency and ambition moving forward, and with that demonstrated, he and his club should have the backing of the owners and the fans alike.
Meanwhile, the break will consist of drilling and rest, conceptualizing and reenvisioning; with the right work it can make all the difference for the Gunners.
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