Yesterday Arsenal beat Manchester United at the Emirates stadium and took a further step towards their top 4 finish.
The 3-1 win was far from a good performance from the Gunners, but at this point of the season, what is most important is the results and Arsenal got the results.
Let’s have a look at the main takeaways of this match.
Welcome to the Arsenal Roller Coaster Ride
In football a lot can change in such a short space of time.
Three weeks ago, after beating Aston Villa and getting back to the winning track, Arsenal fans’ hearts were filled with dreams and hopes.
We were very excited at the real prospect of playing in the Champions league again next season, and all the big signings in the summer that the CL prestige and money might bring.
It wasn’t an unfounded hope or expectation, either. Arsenal were actually in a good position to secure their Champions League qualification and the subsequent three fixtures looked like a perfect opportunity for us to further cement the position.
However, once again, it was proved that we were too optimistic. Arsenal lost all the three matches, amassing 0 point in the process and falling behind their rival Tottenham.
Lacazette was out of form, we lost Tierney and Thomas Partey through injury and Tomiyasu never seemed to return from his injury. Missing these key players severely affected Arsenal and the team looked very disjointed.
At this point, Arsenal fans started to look lower down the league table and almost accepted that the final stage of the season will be about if Arsenal can stay in top 6 and secure their European league place for next season.
Then the Chelsea game and Manchester United game yesterday happened. The Arsenal side who managed to score 1 goal in the three matches against Brighton, Crystal Palace and Southampton scored SEVEN in these two matches and won both.
With Brentford managing to hold Tottenham to draw yesterday, Arsenal are now two points ahead of the Spurs and Top 4 place seems to be within our reach. Now we can dream again.
The Amazon film crew must be really pleased that they decided to do their documentary on Arsenal this season.
Tavares: Chaos Personified
If fans feel supporting Arsenal is a little bit like being on a roller coaster ride, No one symobolises it better than Nuno Tavares.
When he first arrived, I watched his highlights videos on Youtube and thought, he reminds me a little of Andre Santos.
But to be fair, during preseason and when he got a run of games in the first half of the season, he initially looked reasonably solid. He even kept Tierney out of the starting eleven for a few games.
Then several moments of carelessness followed. With Tierney fully fit and back in the side, Tavares totally lost his place and hardly ever played since this first spell.
Even when Tierney was injured again recently, Arteta was very reluctant to play Tavares as a left back until it became clear that we absolutely need Xhaka in midfield and he had no choice.
And now I think we can all see why.
Nuno Tavares brings Chaos wherever he goes. His positioning is sometimes not even that of a winger but that of a striker.
Of course, a little bit of chaos in the opposition final third is no bad thing. He actually scored the opener against Manchester United when De Gea parried Saka’s shot. Not many left backs would have the instinct to be in that position to score that goal.
But, for example, while Danny Welbeck, who I think also brought chaos to the team missing a great chance in front of the opposition goal (even though it would be ideal if he scored it) wasn’t fatal to the team, chaos in Arsenal’s own third is something I’m sure Arteta never wants.
In this match, Tavares, as well as scoring the opener, gave away a penalty with a needless handball, and was close to giving away another. Tavares looks like a player who can be affected by his mental state too and especially after the penalty, he looked really shaky in defence.
It will be interesting to see what the club does in the summer, but the fact that Tavares started both against Chelsea and Manchester United seems to suggest that the trust from the manager is strong enough to make him a starter for the remainder of the season.
Let’s see what kind of show he puts in for the remaining games. I am sure it won’t be boring.
Shining Support Acts
There is no doubt that the main acts of the current Arsenal team are the youngsters such as Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe, Gabriel Martinelli and Martin Odegaard. Recently Eddie Nketiah also joined the show.
They have saved Arsenal countless times this season and their future looks bright. However, in the game against Manchester United (and Chelsea, too) more experienced players have been showing that this Arsenal team is not all about youth.
Since Partey’s injury, Granit Xhaka has been our most important midfielder and he has been performing that role very well, scoring a fantastic goal from a long range yesterday.
Then came on Rob Holding, who at this point must bring despair to the opposition attackers. Two goals lead and Holding on the pitch, no chance for Manchester United.
Mohamed Elneny has always been 7 out of 10 kind of player, and in this young and sometimes unstable Arsenal side, his experience and the stability he brings has been incredibly valuable.
It is intriguing that these three players, Xhaka, Elneny, and Holding are the only players left who have played in the Champions League for Arsenal.
They might not be the future of Arsenal but they have been great supporting acts and are trying their best to make sure that the next generation of Arsenal players can play in the Champions league like they did.
The results of the past 5 games were miraculously unexpected but at the same time it feels very typically Arsenal.
In the past, it was considered typical for Arsenal to finish 4th, as well.
Let’s hope that the current Arsenal team can also recreate this side of typicality as our roller coaster ride continues.
Arsenal fan and football journalist in Japan. Used to live in northern England. Very interested in football data analytics and gardening.