Gunner Thoughts

Arsenal Have to Believe There’s Value in These Remaining Matches

Arsenal stand at a fork in the road: Find value in these games or head to the beach early.

Perhaps the best part part of Arteta’s press conference before Chelsea is hearing him say that we don’t accept, accepting our fate. 

“We don’t want to accept that, but you have to recognise that on the day [City] took the game to a different level, and we didn’t reach that level. They were better than us and deserved to win the game.”

In some ways it feels a little too late after letting Liverpool and West Ham matches slip through our grasp when things were firmly in control. But Arsenal have a chance to prove to everyone how unwilling to accept the result at the Etihad they are. 

They may not be able to control the title anymore, but they can put their best foot forward to put pressure on City to win out, or at least acquit themselves well and take this the distance. A win today would put Arsenal back on top of the table for the time being, and that’s the best Arsenal can do at the moment.

“Win tomorrow – that’s what we have to do. Within the disappointment and the spirit around [the club], we need to do two things – recognise what a lot of people around the club have done to get us back into the Champions League, which was already a difficult thing to achieve. Not a lot of people were very optimistic that we had the ability to do that at the start of the season, and we need to start recognising the good work that a lot of people have done to achieve that. The second thing – which I like the most – is that even achieving that with six games to go – something that hasn’t happened in more than a decade at this club – that we are still not satisfied, still upset and we want more. We want the club to be consistently with the best, that’s the mentality we need and that’s what I’ve loved most over the last few days.”

People have a hard time hearing it. It feels like a secondary prize when the ceiling potential on the season exploded. Perhaps there will be a moment when people can appreciate those achievements for what they offer our future prospects. 

I wrote yesterday that normally Chelsea would feel like a perfect match for this Arsenal team to bounce back in, and in a lot of ways they are. They haven’t won in 8 match, they are in 12th place, and they clearly have one foot on the beach – even with the small banter that they are in a relegation scrap. 

But at the moment, it’s hard to predict what Arsenal we are going to see. Or, perhaps, we don’t know which of the two Arsenals we are likely to see will win out. Will it be the one that has still strung together 8 goals in the last four games or the one that hasn’t won in four games and is leaking 11 goals in the same four games? 

As Arteta said, “It is not about the mood, it is about keeping that fire in the belly for tomorrow.”

These players have to believe that there is something worth playing for. At the very least, they have to find value in acquitting themselves to the very end for their own pride, for fan pride, and to show people they are still the team that deserves to call themselves second best – or even first if City slip up.

There are too many people circling the wounded carcass of Arsenal’s title run, waiting to say, “See, they were never serious contenders. Look how they have crumbled and fallen apart. THIS is the real Arsenal”. And it’s enough to make every fan’s blood boil.

Arsenal HAVE been good enough, they have deserved to be here, they have shown the levels of dominance expected of a top team. They have also crumbled late with a storm of reasons from injuries to pressure to, probably, some fatigue – physically and emotionally.

Today, they have to bounce back and acquit themselves. They stand before a fork in the road with two options before them: push this season to limit and come as close to 90pts or call this season over because City have surpassed them and head to the beach early.

It would be really sad to see them choose option 2, and yet it’s something many fans are worried is all too easy for young players to do. Chelsea are in a bad, bad place. Fat Frank is not a good manager or tactician, but he will have them up for coming to our ground and painting London blue. Arsenal have to see the value to winning these remaining matches and wake up.

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