I think it’s fair to say every Arsenal fan started on a high yesterday. I woke up absolutely buzzing to from Sunday’s result and you have to imagine the players did as well. It was another statement win, another step as a team, in Mikel’s words, and the result of this side fearlessly walking into enemy territory and demanding the right to win.
Arsenal claim the right to beat their chest and applaud their fans with full voice, in Stamford Bridge, as they stand atop the table and look down at the rest. In 13 matches Arsenal have won 11 matches and 50% of the total matches they won in last season’s entirety. They’ve also tucked away 31 goals, compared to their 61 in total last season. On the other end of the pitch, they’ve conceded only 11 — and a few of those were very self-inflicted — which is tied for best in the league with Newcastle.
So… if you’re following, Arsenal are
- 2nd in goals scored
- tied for 1st in goals against
- 1st in points
So, yeah… I would say Arsenal are the real deal. And you know you’ve got people worried when they’re putting their hopes for your demise into a meltdown after an unprecedented, midseason international tournament that shrouds the second half of the year in mystery.
Arsenal have one more game before that break against Wolves at Molineux Stadium for the chance to ensure they are top of the table until late December — and wouldn’t that just be one sweet, sweet holiday gift to us all.
Killing Arsenal Stereotypes
When you start a season like this, it’s natural for everyone to ask if, or even assume, you are title contenders. I can’t tell you how much I Love-Hate the graphic they now show just about every week that states every team except one that has started the season this spectacularly has gone on to win the league. Yeah, well those teams didn’t have to contend with this Manchester City super-team, so get that the hell outta my face, please. But, I mean, EVERY TEAM, except one, had won the league!
After the game, Zinchenko did an interview where he was asked about title contention and I thought he answered well, saying, “honestly, I don’t want to look so far because we have a lot of games ahead of us”.
“I can feel that this group of people, they are special. Starting from our staff and then all the people on our training ground, our fans, we believe in ourselves, every single game.
“I think I would say that I got used to hearing that Arsenal, it means straight away in your mind, ‘top four, top four’.
“I would say, I really want to kill and destroy this stereotype. We need to look further, and I think this team, this group of people, the fans, they deserve more. That’s what we need to do.
“We need hard work in this and let’s see at the end of season. You ask me if we can challenge Man City and stuff? Of course, they are an amazing team, but you never know what can happen in football. We need to go step by step with every single game.”
Heh! Well, if you asked me before the season if I would be, at the very least, appeased by top four, I probably would have said yes. Forgive me, it’s not as if I didn’t believe the team could achieve more, it’s simply that our stereotype of “top four, top four” has turned into “top half, top half” and the first step back is achieving top four.
But Zinchenko is 100% right. This team can achieve more, the mindset has to be on greater and better things and, as they have earned the right to win, they have earned the right to pursue those heights. Manchester City are an amazing team, no one in the interview knows that better than Zinchenko, but football is a fickle game. Manchester City escaped dropping points after a Joao Cancelo red card, but everyone knows they will have eyes on a European prize this season as much if not more than collecting another Premier League trophy.
Anything can happen, it just might be an arms race to the finish. Arsenal probably won’t be able to rely on other teams snatching points on our behalf, which means they have to win their points and see where things lie. It stars with killing this stereotype on game at a time. I think the belief that other teams are carrying that this start to the season is some kind of Fugazi farce begging to be put to rest is born out of the past 5 years. The stereotype Zinchenko wants to destroy born across a decade.
Both need killing, badly. And that continues with Wolves, but goes beyond the World Cup break.
World Cup Roundup: Gabi, Gabi, Gabi, Tomi
While everyone was riding high from the Chelsea win, three of Arsenal’s Brazilians were probably soothing a few nerves as they awaited the official reveal of Brazil’s World Cup squad.
Gabriel Jesus is selected to his second World Cup. While he might not have been as nervous as the others, he was excluded from the last round of international selections which may have spiked a few nerves. He did start all of Brazil’s matches in 2018, and I thoroughly believe what he offers a team on and off the ball is always worth bringing to a tournament like this
Early in the day, news seemed to have leaked out that Martinelli would not be selected to the squad. Brazil boasts a star-studded squad but the young 21-year-old has been outstanding for Arsenal on the left wing. He’s an incredibly hard worker, but these tournaments are about immediate results and contributions. Selfishly, I was having day dreams about Martinelli carrying this chip on his shoulder and having it drive him to new heights in the second half of the season. But news broke, the official team was announced, and Martinelli claimed his place.
Brazil’s coach Tite had this to say on Martinell. “We like Martinelli aggressiveness. He’s one of the top players at Arsenal, the first placed in the Premier League. He’s good on 1v1, very rapid in transitions, he’s been keeping a good level.”
It will be his first World Cup, despite very few senior caps with the team. He does boast an Olympic gold medal though. Well earned, Gabi!
Sadly there was to be one Gunner in contention that would be left out and it was Big Gabi. I think Gabriel has put together a really solid season for Arsenal. His partnership with Saliba has been outstanding, and it seems to be getting stronger by the match. Unfortunately, if there is one knock against him, it will be the sometimes-too-frequent ability to make an errant pass that puts his side in compromising and punishable situations.
Additionally, Brazil boasts good defenders that he has to compete with. Selected defenders were: Alex Sandro (Juventus), Alex Telles (Sevilla) Dani Alves (Pumas), Danilo (Juventus), Bremer (Juventus), Eder Militao (Real Madrid), Marquinhos (Paris Saint Germain), Thiago Silva (Chelsea).
I know some people looked at the aging players or Bremar at Juventus and felt strongly that Gabriel should have been selected in his place, but Tite doesn’t agree. On the upside, like Martinelli, I hope this frustrates Gabriel and drives him to that next level. There is a big break for him to rest and sharpen his skills to prepare for a massive second half of the ceiling. I would love to see him kick it up another much. At the age of 24, he will be frustrated to not have been given his first trip to a World Cup, but he has another opportunity in 2026, when he will be in his prime, to not only go but make an impact.
Finally, and with little surprise, Tomiyasu was selected to the Japanese team. It will be his first selection, but it remains in question whether he will be fit. According to Arsenal.com, “Takehiro is currently being assessed regarding his fitness for our remaining matches before the World Cup, but should be available to feature in the tournament.”
This is good news for him and good news for Arsenal, at least as far as it’s good to have your players play major events like this and his participation suggests his injury isn’t long-term or significant.
Arsenal begin their EFL campaign against Brighton, which won’t be the easiest of matches. As the Premier League gains parity, clubs like Brighton are starting to view cups like this as a real opportunity to make a deep run and have a shot at bringing home silverware. You never know how things are going to shake out, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see Brighton field a strong team.
Enjoy your Tuesday!