On Sunday, Mikel Arteta was back in front of the media once again in preparation for the game against Leicester City. There is no rest for the Arsenal manager who is moving from one game to the next with no time to relax. Just over 24 hours after beating Wolverhampton Wolves, Arteta faced questions covering team confidence, Leicester City and Vardy, Lacazette, Martinelli, and more.
Read the full transcript from Arsenal here.
Arsenal are coming off the back of 4 straight straight wins after a rocky start to the replay, and one of their most prized wins of the season. Arteta constructed a gameplan that depended on rigid, organized, and scrappy defending capable of frustrating Wolverhampton, and the team executed to perfection. It’s not the type of win many associate Arsenal with, especially this current squad.
In two games, Arsenal supporters have seen their team win in the same fluid 3-4-3 formation through completely different means. Norwich was a course in how a team attacks through the wings to dominate possession from start to finish. Wolves shows how a team picks and chooses when to get into the attack while remaining defensively responsible to deny counter attacking opportunities to a fast-paced, physical team. It’s two wins that will provide the team with a feeling of momentum and confidence as they enter a daunting run of games.
“Well now we are on a good run, we’ve got some momentum and we’re getting to the crucial point of the season where we’re going to face the top teams in the next two weeks and we’re just trying to get prepared as well as we can. We know how important these games are going to be for the future of the season, so we are very focused and committed to trying to do as well as we can,” said Arteta when asked what he thought these next three games could show.
For many reasons, the top 4 or 5 spots still seem like a large ask for the side to achieve. While it is feasible from a point perspective, sitting 6 points back from Manchester United – the remaining games and Wolverhampton between them make it seem tough to imagine both would fall in their remaining 5 games.
With third place Leicester City, then a north london derby against Tottenham, followed by champions Liverpool, Arsenal would have to take points from all of them and 3 points from most of them. It’s a fact that makes the Brighton game’s result a little tougher to swallow. Having grabbed 3 points from Brighton, as many would have expected would put Arsenal 3 points back with a little more room for error.
It’s a fact that has caused some to wonder if the restart did come a bit soon for Arsenal who have seemingly found their groove again recently. Arteta was quick to deny this and suggest their were other factors that led to the early game struggles:
“I don’t think so. I think we were well-prepared. I think they were two very different games. The game at City started with two accidents very early in the game that cost us a lot with two big injuries. Then, don’t forget that we played 45 minutes with 10 men against one of the top sides in the country. The second game against Brighton, we completely dominated the game for large periods of time and then when we were 1-0 up and we could’ve scored the second one, we just gave the game to the opponent. So it’s not like it was bad performance or attitudes or effort or anything like that. It was different situations that we have to deal with and we didn’t do well enough in those two games.”
Whether you believe an extra week of training and perhaps an addition friendly would have helped or not, Arsenal was always going to need to find a way to get wins during this upcoming tough stretch. It’s great to see them heading into it high on confidence in themselves and this new 3-4-3 formation. We will have to see if they can not only weather the storm but come out of it in a better place.