In a season that sees your team just off the pace of 100 points, winning 15 of their first 18 matches, tied for best goal differential in the league, playing outstanding football, and pacesetting the way toward a league title — the time in between games seems to somehow fly by and standstill. The days fly by when you watch Arsenal play, win, collect three points, but somehow they are yet to eclipse the halfway point of the season. You want to soak it all in, but also skip to the end and see know how it all finishes.
Even in the face of a tricky fixture, one people believe will be the beginning of Arsenal’s tumbling or a heated north London derby, you find yourself shaking with anticipation to see that fluid, devastating movement. Craving another taste of seeing your team be the best in the league. And it leaves you with smiles. But top of the league comes with nerves.
It comes with tight margins and no room for error. It has draws feeling like losses. Mistakes and off performances have you trying to read the tea leaves and understand if there was something more to the day’s struggles, an underlying problem, or just a tough day at the office. Should you brace yourself, steel yourself, or simply keep your eyes forward with confidence?
But for Arsenal — and Arsenal fans — it has been so long since it has felt this outstanding. In Amazon’s ‘All or Nothing’, Arteta asks, “what’s more important – the journey or the destination?” Neither. “The company”, he says. And the company hasn’t felt better in just as long. The team is infectious. You can’t help but love each and every player, their workrate and effort, and god-dangit the results go a long way too.
Even the troubles seems to roll off the back at moment. The next upswing is just around the corner. The world feels like it’s being viewed through rose-tinted glasses without the unrealistic shade that’s often associated with that life view.
This last week Arsenal lost out on Mudryk after Chelsea swept in and made an offer that, frankly, is hard to be upset Arsenal didn’t match — assuming they even could match the structure. It hurt. A rational brain can accept it and know, with that money, other players will be available. But the fan in many will have wanted another star prospect to don the red and white and help lead this title charge. A near-surreal meltdown from league-leading fans ensued. Some called for Edu’s sacking. Others spiraled further.
Twenty four hours later, Arsenal rolled through Tottenham, claimed a 0-2 away win in a north London derby, took the double over Spurs, and extended the league lead to 8 points. A 2 and 2/3 game lead over Manchester City. Seventy-two hours after the Mudryk announcement and Arsenal fan sprits seem to have returned to their invigorated, tribal levels with an added step of 3 more points in the bank, and 3 more distancing them from the pack.
Of course there are nerves about what Arsenal are going to do in the January window to help push them across the finish line with silverware in hand. There’s no promise of being back in this position in the future. After all, the Premier League is filled with twists and turns. But even now, I find myself viewing the situation through the lens of having almost half the window left to sort out a deal or two. In past years, having a deal like Mudryk fall through feel as though it would have derailed the whole operation and outlook. This year, it feels like a hiccup that the club will overcome.
Life is good and Arsenal find themselves in the midst of a week that could see this exhilaration keep on rolling!
Manchester United play Crystal Palace today which means, at the very least, they have 90 mid-week minutes in their legs before coming to the Emirates on Sunday. If all goes well and Vieira can get his boys to do us a favor, United — now a point off 2nd and in the race — will drop points and give Arsenal an opportunity to reclaim comfortable separation against a laggy opponent.
On Thursday, Manchester City play Tottenham and I can’t think of a more win-win-win matchup for Arsenal fans at the moment. If Tottenham win (boo), City drop 3 more points (Woo). If City win (boo), Spurs season is almost effectively ended as they can’t afford points (LOL). And if the two teams tie, it’s an absolute dream of having our cake and eating it too. Both teams drop two points, City offer another real opportunity and Arsenal have the chance to end the weekend up 10 points — dare we even dream it?
Life is good right now. I mean, it’s exceptional. This week feels great and good omens are in the sky. Sit back, and enjoy the next two days of matchups. Put down the January Window worries and atch those little Manchester United legs run and run and run. Then really soak in the full glory of whatever comes our way in the City-Spurs game.