How many times have you heard pundits and supporters use this phrase "unlucky" when referring to Arsenal this season under Mikel Arteta?
Undoubtedly, Arsenal has had a season full of ups and downs; VAR controversy, rueing missed chances and any reference to the team with the most red cards in the Premier League. Inconsistency through all parts of the pitch have defined the Gunners season thus far. However, true signs of maturity in style and direction under Mikel Arteta are peering through the clouds after a massive North London Derby victory.
Fresh off of a big away Europa League victory against Olympiacos, Arsenal had a huge task in front of them with their London rivals in good league form and challenging for a Europa League spot. The NLD is always an exclamation point on the calendar, but this game felt ever more important for the momentum and spirit of a team on the rise and in need of three points to keep their European hopes alive.
Captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was boldly omitted by Mikel Arteta before the match due to tardiness, which became a big talking point. A more interesting narrative is the youthful setup in which Mikel Arteta has continued to deploy as results are charged up.
Emile Smith-Rowe, Bukayo Saka, Gabriel, Kieran Tierney, and Martin Odegaard have all been called upon over the past few games to help sure up our results and mix some energy in with the experienced contingent. ESR, Saka and Odegaard’s fluidity and interchange in behind the striker has produced the highest XG and goal-rate Arsenal has seen since Arsene Wenger was manager.
Erik Lamela hit a worldie of a rabona to see Spurs lead 1-0, a moment to grace any game. Arsenal were leading in shots 5-1 and had nearly 80% of the possession at that point, and anyone who has seen an NLD in the past knows that the first goal is just an opener.
Martin Odegaard had another fantastic game and opened the scoring for Arsenal after Kieran Tierney again showed his unquestionable value to the team on the left flank. The Real Madrid loanee has settled extremely quickly and Arteta will surely be interested in making him a permanent signing if he continues in the vein of form.
While it hasn’t been a glamorous season, there are plenty of positives beginning to surface.
Arsenal has youthful talent by the boatload and Hale End is, yet again, proving to produce Premier League starters that are keeping highly-experienced internationals out of the lineup. Goals are beginning to flow and the defense is starting to sure up for Arteta, but most importantly a clear play-style and a solid core of young players for the future are giving Arsenal great hope for the future.
While goal-inducing mistakes are still bubbling up every few games to hinder Arsenal’s league progress, the vision is becoming more and more clear with each game.
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