Monday October 5th, 11PM.
Firstly, let’s praise the victory. Lord knows we needed it. It wasn’t Arsenal at their fluid best, nor was it against opposition full of confidence and attacking threat, but the game plan was stuck to and we head into the international break with three valuable points. Not to mention we’re in the Premier League top four.
At the Emirates, the match was won in the space of four minutes. Both goals came off the back of a decent spell of pressure where we managed to drag Sheffield United players out of position and exploit the spaces where we knew we could hurt them. Part of that was on the visitors, who pushed up the pitch a few yards in that second half with their front two trying to press just beyond the halfway line. It was in this spell we had most joy.
There were key moments from Bukayo Saka, and another adventurous outing from Hector Bellerin to thank as well, all coming together to ensure the winning feeling returns in the Premier League.
No football for another two weeks, yet the following hours could be some of the most pivotal in the entire season.
This squad needs reinforcements. Pardon, I rephrase, this midfield needs reinforcing.
Games, such as this one, will come about where we can show enough resilience to scrape a win, but we won’t be playing a side who’ve lost their last six games on the trot at home each week. We can’t rely on a midfield of Mohamed Elneny and Dani Ceballos to be the engine room of a surge towards the top four. They’re decent enough players, but Arsenal need more.
Mikel Arteta’s formation was its usual flexible self, while the choice to move Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang infield and put natural wingers in wide roles showed he’s trying his best to find a new groove in attacking phases.
With the Houssem Aouar deal dead in the water and the Thomas Partey case growing bleaker by the day, the work mustn’t stop. It’s not feasible to suggest that for all of Arteta’s brilliance – changing the culture, drilling the players tactically and instilling a mental toughness – that he can mount a serious challenge on four (albeit two primary) fronts with what he has.
With bated breath we wait anxiously to see what happens before 11PM on Monday.