By Bulldog Drummond
With the disappointment of the game and the result, it is easy to forget that we’re still top of the league.
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And yes of course this could be the start of the slide down the table, as the negativists will predict, but we have a distraction on Thursday with the start of the Europa and the away game to FC Zurich. That will give a chance for some of the players not getting time on the pitch thus far to have a game, and for the disappointment of today’s game to be set aside.
Personally, I felt that for periods in today’s match Arsenal were playing brilliantly, and that style of play won’t suddenly disappear. What we need to do is win in Zurich and then be ready for the game next Sunday at home to Everton.
So everything is about the speed of the recovery from the result today, and given the way Arsenal played early on in this match, and the way the club is going about setting things up and sorting things out, I’ve every confidence this will be got right.
Jesus was good, Xhaka was in fine form, and although it appeared from watching on TV that Martinelli faded later he was amazing early on. (And it’s hard to judge such things properly on TV because there are so many close ups which stop one getting the full flavour of the game, but that’s how I saw the game on the small screen).
We had 16 shots during the game which is excellent for an away team and 61% of possession (ditto), and although of course I know that doesn’t change the fact of who won, it shows this team is going out to take on anyone, no matter how febrile the atmosphere.
Arsenal had 20% more passes than Manchester United, an 83% pass accuracy, and there we are still top of the league.
And I mention all these figures because the key thing at this moment is for the team not to feel desperately down about a 3-1 defeat. But we have the youngest average age starting lineup in the league, at 24.6 years. Manchester United and Tottenham have an average age of 27, Manchester City 27.5. For Chelsea it is 28.8 and for Liverpool it is 29.4 years. Practically a bunch of pensioners.
And again, of course we don’t win points by having the youngest team, but what we do get is a team that is quicker to learn and develop, and a team where on average when players get injured, they recover quicker.
The key thing is that the team does now recover quickly and doesn’t slip into a period of negative thinking. Personally, I don’t think that is likely, because the players have tasted the success of being top of the league and winning five in a row.
The 49 undefeated run ended with a 2-0 defeat at Old Trafford, but we recovered and went on an eight match unbeaten run after that, and that’s what is needed now.
There are four matches (Zurich, Everton, PSV and Brentford) before the next big one which is Tottenham at home on 1 October and more than anything we need to be back into a winning run once again in approaching that match.
Tottenham are undefeated so far this season but they have drawn their two away London derbies against Chelsea and West Ham, which given that neither of those teams are particularly strong at the moment suggests that local rivalry is not really what the tiny totts like.
But worse for them, while in Europe we will be giving experience to our younger players, Tottenham will be forced to put out their full team to take on the likes of Marseille, Manchester City and Sporting each of whom they play before the game against Arsenal. The only easy match they have is against a Leicester City team that is currently showing all the hallmarks of relegation and wishing the season to be over.
So, yes, I’m very disappointed with today’s result and the way the game ended, but still with plenty of hope and positive feelings for the future.
We are, after all, still top of the league. And if you see the media suggesting that it’s all over for Arsenal you might care to remember this one
They all predicted we would finish fifth, and we are still top of the league.
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