Arsenal have not performed that well in recent weeks, it has to be said, but since that awful second-half performance against Watford, the Gunners have conceded just four in six games and kept four clean sheets.
It appears Unai Emery has been trying to get the basics right as he looks to put points on the board. Yesterday’s game against Bournemouth was a case in point.
They started well at the Emirates, passing the ball crisply and dominating the game in the first 45 minutes. The Cherries did, however, play more aggressively in the second half and while they did have their chances to score, Arsenal managed to grind out the win.
The victory moves Arsenal up to third in the table on fifteen points, just one point behind Manchester City following the Premier League champions’ defeat to Wolves yesterday.
The rise into the Champions League spots doesn’t really tally with the negativity among fans at the start of this season, and I think the reason behind this is that performances have been functional rather than overly spectacular.
Garth Crooks said in his column for the BBC that the Gunners are lucky to be in third at the moment and I think a lot of supporters would agree with that. They may be collecting wins but they have not been convincing.
Edging victories in their first two games against Newcastle and Burnley, as well as having to come from behind to draw against Tottenham doesn’t show a team looking to take on the challenge of finishing in top four.
Especially considering Spurs’s poor form currently, that North London derby result looks worse by the week, while the point away at Old Trafford would have been decent in any other season, but not when you see the quality of the current United squad.
With that being said, though, it’s not necessarily the case that Arsenal are in a false position. They are getting the points and have performed better than some of their other ‘big six’ rivals.
However, Spurs and United, in particular, are having historically poor campaigns. In that context, Arsenal should be taken more advantage of the situation than they are. That seems to be the root cause of the uneasiness amongst some supporters.
The sense is that the Gunners will need to perform better if they are to maintain their position in the table. They face Sheffield United at Bramall Lane next up after the international break. The Blades gave Liverpool a run for their money in their last home game, and it will be a test of the Gunners’ resilience.
If Emery’s men can get through that game, and negotiate wins over Crystal Palace and Wolves in subsequent fixtures, we can then be more confident that this Arsenal side is heading in the right direction.