Arsenal are surviving ropey performances and getting results
Arsenal are surviving ropey performances and getting results… it feels like Mikel Arteta has turned a corner with the Gunners
- Arsenal extended their unbeaten run with a 1-0 win over West Ham on Saturday
- The visitors wasted plenty of opportunities as Arsenal snatched a big win
- Mikel Arteta is finding a knack for riding his luck and picking up victories
- With his crop of youngsters, it feels like the Gunners have turned a corner
How devilishly peculiar. West Ham are getting rather less than they deserve at the moment and equally there is a sense that the team who beat them on Saturday may be flattering to deceive in their recent invincibility.
In Arsenal’s case that is especially interesting and yet in these times of plenty most folk will not care a jot that their eight games without defeat emitted a whiff of good fortune. Most folk; not all.
And that is where the realism of Mikel Arteta kicks in. He is hardly the sort for getting giddy with first impressions, and so it was fairly prescient and heartening post-match when he started talking about ships and what lies beneath the surface.
Mikel Arteta is aware there is some way to go before Arsenal are on the right track
The Gunners extended their unbeaten run after seeing off West Ham 1-0 on Saturday
‘We are turning the corner in results and a bit in terms of what I want to see in my team,’ was how he put it. ‘The ship still has to turn more to see what we want to see. It is a process.’
Compared to some of the indistinct dross of Unai Emery’s latter showings, Arteta has indeed turned that corner. But sensible probing will focus as much on the performances as what they produced.
On both fronts the progress in the past three months is clear, though in the details Arsenal are not nearly so convincing as the Premier League’s longest unbeaten streak might have you believe. Indeed, while it might be a touch unkind to water their first bonfire in some time, it can be subjectively said that in Arsenal’s run of eight only the win over Manchester United at its beginning was deeply impressive. Even the 4-0 victory over Newcastle was littered with holes in a goalless first half and in each of the draws with Crystal Palace, Sheffield United and Burnley, Arsenal were the more pleased with a point.
The north London side rode their luck and looked unconvincing at times but came through
Against West Ham, they might have conceded three or four before Alexandre Lacazette’s late volley. The relief in all this is that Arsenal are surviving ropey performances and getting results. That has always been a quality of good teams and very gradually they are reclaiming that status again.
That Arteta is doing so with a fleet of young players makes it all the more pleasing. Bukayo Saka, the 18-year-old Englishman at left back, looks especially delightful, particularly going forward. He had another good game against West Ham.
Eddie Nketiah, 20, had one of his quieter games but has significant quality, as do Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock and Gabriel Martinelli, who were on the bench. Arteta is investing in the future and looking increasingly decent in the present, with that unbeaten run containing three straight wins, even if Manchester City on Wednesday can be expected to provide a more reliable barometer of how they stand. The greatest deficiency by far is in defence and you suspect City will be rather more ruthless than West Ham.
With his crop of youngsters, it feels as though Arsenal have turned a corner with Arteta
In attack, they have riches but it is noticeable that Arteta, like others before him, is struggling to get the best from Mesut Ozil and Nicolas Pepe is looking rather one footed for a chap who cost £72million. Arteta acknowledged as much of a left-footer who plays on the right and invariably has to cut inside. ‘It is part of his development, that he needs to open more doors, to be more unpredictable for the opponent and give us more options as well offensively. He is working on it, he will improve.’
West Ham have got better and yet three points from their games with Liverpool, Southampton and Arsenal is not a fair return.
‘We have to take positives,’ said Lukasz Fabianski. ‘I think we’re getting better as a team, as a group. We’re pushing teams, we’re managing games.’
Time is ticking on West Ham manager David Moyes finding results to match performances.
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