2023 STARTS STRONG – ARSENAL TOP / SPURS IN THE MUD – Le Grove – The Arsenal Opinion Blog

Well GOOOOOOOD morning 2023!

Arsenal is top of the league.

Spurs just played their first game of the year at home to Unai Emery’s Aston Villa and LOST with a dreadful performance.

Are the stars aligning?

Is the universe healing?

I think so.

Let’s start with Spurs because I landed a lot of criticism here for talking about why I thought their strategy was hot garbage last year. But now it’s time for me to accept some flowers.

It is absolutely clear that Antonio Conte is no longer capable of building a title-winning side.

So where does that leave Spurs?

Well, Harry Kane and Son both have to consider their legacy. Great players, loads of golden boots, but no trophies. Expect them to be thinking about new sides this summer and possibly before (Son is already playing like he wants to be somewhere else).

Then think about where Spurs are as a club.

  • £1b in debt
  • Likely no Champions League football
  • A manager who hasn’t signed a new deal but is too expensive to sack
  • £250m spent on old or b-list level players
  • No academy prospects
  • Ground zero on a strategy that could work

I said at the time he was hired that I preferred the route Arsenal were taking. We took our medicine. Did things the hard way. Invested in an idea that is now reaping rewards.

Spurs went for the short-term hit of buying winnertivity, a doomed plan, that is now failing. It’s failing so badly that Conte said after the Villa game £250m of spending hasn’t got them a strong foundation to win games.

HA!

No club in the league is at higher risk of a very expensive and painful fall than Spurs.

Good.

Arsenal?

We just went away from home to our bogey team and scored 4 goals to keep us top of the league.

It was a 2nd gear performance. Our passing wasn’t always the sharpest, we didn’t dominate the full 90 minutes, and the levels slipped when we subbed off our fullbacks and Thomas Partey.

But as Matt said on the podcast, give me dips and errors that don’t cost us points and that’s what happened.

Arsenal are now ruthless in front of goal. All the fears that missing Gabi J would ruin our style were… misplaced. 7 goals in two games, 30 shots, 12 on target, our front three scoring in both 90s. That’s Arsenal not missing a beat. Remember, Gabi J hadn’t scored since October 1st. Eddie now has two goals in two games. What’s that, 7 PL goals in 9 starts for the striker that wasn’t at the level? Can we all mute the doubters now?

Martin Odegaard was absolutely sensational. He’s a goal-scoring machine this season, but the real gem was his perfectly weighted hammer pass through the middle of the park. I cannot believe we picked up a gem like him for £35m. Real Madrid is already rumbling in the media that they have first refusal on him… but why would Martin go back when he’s doing it at the biggest show in town?

There were some concerns. William Saliba looked a bit rusty for the second game in a row, he made a bad error for Brighton’s goal, and he hasn’t looked very assured. Form is temporary, he sat on his ass for 6 weeks, it’s not a shock he’s been slow to get back into the mixer.

I’m also a little worried about Aaron Ramsdale. Teams shoot from crosses because he flaps. There were three occasions yesterday where he was either not concentrating on the ball or totally misjudging crosses. There’s another level to unlock with him, but he’s not really finding it, I hope he can find his confidence as well.

But back to the game… we dominated the metrics, more shots, better shots, more xG, but we did have a dip when we brought on new fullbacks and Big Mo. But that shouldn’t be a point of criticism. We have to give those players minutes so they feel attuned to the game when they are needed, and the three we took off are injury prone. Being able to make those sort of subs at that stage of the game is BIG for our Newcastle freshness. So… we rode the wave.

Biggest benefit of the day? City and Newcastle dropped points and the boys didn’t let themselves get phased by the pressure.

Are we mentality monsters? It seems that way.

Now, things are going a little too well, there is going to be a dip this season, so it’s important to remember that although we are in the title race, the goal is Top 4. So where are we?

We have 22 games left. 66 points to play for.

If we win 50% of our games, dropping our win rate right away from 71%, we’d get to 76 points.

Here’s what that would have earned us over the past 8 seasons.

21-22 = 3rd

20-21 = 2nd

19-20 = 3rd

18-19 = 3rd

17-18 = 4th

16-17 = 4th

15-16 = 2nd

14-15 = 3rd

Basically, win 12 games and we are all but guaranteed CL football this season.

You could say that is a VERY strong start to a league campaign!

Happy New Year, let’s hope it’s as prosperous as the last, big love! xxx

Right, we knocked out a BANGER of a podcast last night, I think you need to jump on it, give it a subscribe or a follow, and make sure you tune in all season.

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