Every matchup between the two Big 6 clubs in the Premier League carries a bit of extra steam with it. As true as it is that there are no easy points in the league and every win in his league should be treasured, there is still a level of expectancy around big clubs steamrolling through their smaller compatriots. And whether fans want to admit it or not, the viewer numbers don’t lie, fans eyes are drawn to matchups that feature teams at the top of table.
So when two of the Premier League Goliaths go head to head, everyone, and I mean everyone, gets a little more riled up. And when Arsenal walk into Stamford Bridge, enemy territory, with the ability to retain their spot at the top of the table and Chelsea step in to defend their turf and get a statement win under Graham Potter, the energy will be electric.
But what’s a Big 6 matchup with out that extra edge?
Aubameyang made waves this week when he featured in a matchup promotion video carrying the tagline “nothing personal”… but it certainly felt pretty personal.
Look, it riled up a whole lot of people. Yesterday on Twitter there was a tweet asking people, “if you could write a script that would come to pass for our game against Chelsea on Sunday what would it be”. After this promo video, it will surprise no one that the commentary under this video was lined with: “Auba OG”, “Arsenal up and Auba misses a last minute sitter to lose”, “3 Aubameyang Own Goals”… you get the gist.
Look, I’m not going to rehash the Aubameyang, Arsenal saga for you once more. You’ve read it, and if you haven’t go find it. It’s everywhere.
And I get fans feeling that fire when they see Aubameyang tapping the Chelsea badge with this Arsenal-tattooed arm and smirking, but hey, I can’t get too wound up. Why? Because Aubameyang did great things for us in his time, things that won us trophies, and when things needed to separate, they did and Arsenal are better for it. Could it have been cleaner? Maybe. Probably. But breakups can get messy. Look how much better Arsenal are now. We don’t need the grudge against a guy that won us an FA Cup at a low point for the club.
I wondered before this video if he would be applauded or booed in the stadium. Often online sentiment or hostilities are ramped up over what we see the vibe in the stadium show. Now, one has to believe he has vilified himself.
By the way, my Answer to the prompt of “ideal Arsenal v. Chelsea match script”? Arsenal win 3-0, 70% of the possession, 22 shots, Jesus scores. Sterile domination. Potter dumbfounded. Arsenal again assert themselves clear top 3 candidates, pundits scramble to say otherwise.
What could be better than walking into Stamford Bridge and dominating them with a performance like that? Nothing.
But there is one takeaway from this video that I was struck with and still am. It’s something we have seen all year but now, in the heat of this build up, maybe stands out crystal clear — every team wants to be the team that beats Arsenal.
They want to be the team that proves to be Arsenal’s undoing. The team that takes the kill shot. The one that proves this Arsenal side’s results are overblown, and the one thats starts the stumble and fall from grace. Every team wants to put their knife in and twist, and hold up the evidence to the rest of the league. Enraged and desperate tweets are stated by rivals about “exposing” or “humbling” Arsenal. And it feels clear to me why — because Arsenal are good. Very good. And it’s easier to hug tight to tribalism and believe you’ll be the ones that prove it false than to accept it.
Every team gears up to play their best. Arsenal are encroaching on the territory we have witnessed the likes of Liverpool and City own. The territory where teams cater their day-to-day schedules and practices and rests around how to be at their best for when Arsenal come to town or they travel to the Emirates. Beating Arsenal is now a statement win for other sides, big 6 included, and that is something Arsenal haven’t been able to say much in the last 5-7 years.
It’s a clear sign of improvement in a vast sea of clear signs. Other signs include: +22GD over where Arsenal were last year at this point, having scored ~50% of last season’s Premier League goal tally in 12 matches, 10 wins 1 loss 1 draw in 12 matches played, 2nd in Goals per match in the Premier League, 2nd in goals conceded per match, 4th in average possession, 3rd in clean sheets. The list goes on and those are statistical. Cold hard facts.
That idea that playing Arsenal and deep rooted need to not just win but “humble” us? That’s emotional and real. It’s a different degree of growth but a sign of just how far Arsenal have come.
To handle this, Arsenal need to be ready to bring their best, not just most days, but every day. Everyone is lining up to get their shot and be the the piece that make the tower topple. Are they ready? In yesterday’s blog I asked a lot of questions about this team’s depth and ability to navigate the long haul. Tomorrow they will be challenged bring their best and raise their level once more.
But when Arsenal get a result away from home at Stamford Bridge to extend their point tally… nothing personal.