Arsenal and a Sense of Goodwill, however Embryonic the season may be
There aren’t many things as misleading as the early season. Or rather, there aren’t many things that are discounted as the early season. Winning your first game of the season is a good feeling but it doesn’t necessarily mean a marker for the rest of your campaign, and neither does winning your first two matches.
Cases are aplenty of teams having a good first month of the season, and things going downhill from there (Wolves in the Premier League in 2011/12). Also there are cases of teams having not-so great starts, but going on to do well (Manchester United in a few title-winning seasons). In fact, we’ve seen cases of teams having a buoyant first few months of the season (Hull City in 2008/09), then sinking. As such, it’s hardly any gain saying that starting the season with two wins on the bounce is hardly a prerequisite for having a successful year.
But winning games brings optimism, and winning games on the bounce amplifies that feel-good factor, and this seems to be the case for Arsenal. After this weekend’s victory over Burnley, the Gunners have won two on the bounce to start their 2019/20 season.
That may (and probably should) seem like little (or nothing), but for a side like Arsenal, it’s not. Prior to this season, the Gunners hadn’t won their first two games of a league campaign since 2009/10. In the nine seasons in-between, the best Arsenal have managed is a draw and a defeat; there have been instances of two draws, and in six of those nine seasons, they’ve managed at least one defeat. In fact, they began last season with two defeats (even though those were against Chelsea and Manchester City, and were followed by a 22-match unbeaten run).
And for a club like Arsenal, who have become known for optimism dissipating at the earliest parts of a season, this shouldn’t be discredited. And it’s not just the result that is a cause for optimism. Emery spoke, post-match, of the performances of the new signings David Luiz, Nicolas Pepe, and Dani Ceballos, as well as the youngsters like Joe Willock.
‘What we wanted to create was a big atmosphere with our supporters together, today and this season’, said the Spanish manager. ‘Today, with some new players, they made an impact in the first match here’. Ceballos, in particular, was impressive, having a hand in both goals in his Emirates debut, before getting withdrawn late on. He didn’t threaten the goal, and probably won’t, like the departed Aaron Ramsey used to, but the signs are the loanee from Real Madrid will offer something worthwhile.
There are still caveats to this game, Arsenal weren’t at their most convincing here, just like at Newcastle a week ago, and both games were one-goal margin wins, settled by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Emery also spoke of challenges, and the Gunners travel to Liverpool next weekend, followed by the north London derby with Spurs.
Those are games where it’s not implausible to imagine a succession defeats to kick that optimism in the teeth. But the gaffer also spoke of enjoying each moment, and at this moment, the Gunners are smiling.
Tech Throwback at the Etihad
Deep in stoppage time, in an entertaining game at the Etihad Stadium, City found a way to grab what looks like a late winner against Spurs. The Etihad roars, and it looks like Spurs can’t reply anymore… until VAR is consulted, and the goal is ruled out. No, it’s not April; as this time it was Gabriel Jesus, who didn’t hide the fact that he’s been denied by the machine for the second Premier League weekend running, to go with his relationship with it from the Copa America.
Two points dropped for City, who fail to win a league for only the second time this year, despite their ridiculous dominance and the power of Kevin de Bruyne. Spurs had three shots at goal – one of which was from their own half – and were on the back-foot for basically the entirety of the game, but Mauricio Pochettino’s side have managed their first away point since January.
- It was a nice reception for Frank Lampard on his managerial Stamford Bridge homecoming, but the result didn’t follow that vein. For the third game in a row, Chelsea began like a house on fire and spent the second half of a game looking out of sorts, as they could only eke out a draw against Leicester. The Foxes, meanwhile, have every right to feel like this was two points dropped, particularly James Maddison.
- One goal on the opening night of the season. A hat-trick in the second weekend. Teemu Pukki, the Championship’s top scorer last season, is loving life in the top-flight, and Norwich seemingly are too.
- Sheffield United also seem to be, as the Blades have followed their draw at Bournemouth with victory over Crystal Palace. John Lundstram is first player to score a top-flight goal at Bramall Lane since David Unsworth broke Steel City hearts in ’07.
- Oh and a moment of madness worthy of the title from Tom Heaton, in Aston Villa’s defeat at home to Bournemouth.
Manchester City 2-2 Tottenham; Southampton 1-2 Liverpool; Everton 1-0 Watford; Sheffield United 1-0 Crystal Palace; Chelsea 1-1 Leicester; Brighton 1-1 West Ham; Aston Villa 1-2 Bournemouth; Norwich 3-0 Newcastle; Arsenal 2-1 Burnley
Monday Night Football: Wolves v Manchester United
Kunle Ajao121 Posts
Kunle Ajao is a football writer and columnist for spotkick. Having made a toss of himself trying to actually play the game, he knew better and got a pen instead of boots. Spends a bit of his time with the game, and thinks he's a bit like Sid Lowe. He's not