Four wins on the bounce, the team looking more solid, new faces making an impact, old ones finding their mojo, young ones doing lovely things like scoring goals and making opponents look like doughnuts, the fans in full voice at a packed stadium…in the aftermath of a north London derby victory – a fantastic one at that – it’s tempting to suggest something has finally clicked for Mikel Arteta’s team.
By 8pm on Saturday evening, we might be frothing at the mouth again but for the moment, there’s an air of calm and optimism around the club that we’ve not experienced in quite some calm. Enjoy it. Drink it in.
Mikel Arteta isn’t stupid, he knows that momentum is difficult to build, easy to lose and that football is great at tripping you up just when you think you’ve learnt to dribble.
In an interview with Sky Sports ahead of the trip to the AMEX, he said as much:
“Momentum is down to confidence, is down to believing in what you do and really feeling it and trying to embrace it and move on every week, adding something, making sure that the steps are forwards.
“In any project, that’s impossible to happen every single week. Some days you have to go a little bit backwards to go forwards and you have to realise that and don’t lose perspective.”
The boss also reflected on why he feels like Arsenal are heading in the right direction after a period of non-stop flux since the departure of Arsene Wenger in 2018.
“The changes we made this summer was probably the most significant summer we’ve had since I’ve been here.
“Now you start to get a sense that we’re all on the same page. With any project, you need the right foundations and now we have clarity in what we want to do.
“We’re starting to have some stability. We have to establish unity. And when that happens, there are better decisions, everybody is more calm, everybody is more settled and things start to happen.”
Arteta’s comments build on those made in his pre-game press conference where he was quizzed on how his long-term plan is coming together. For months he’s been talking about the difficulty of marrying short and long-term results.
He said: “The plan is in place but the things that really matter for the plan to evolve and develop is the present and we have to focus on what we’re meant to do in the present because the rest has already been designed, planned and thought about. What is going to allow us to do that is just the present, so we have to focus on that.”
The Spaniard also outlined how the fans can play a part: “I’ve always said that I’ve been here for 18/20 months and for 16 or 17 of those months, we haven’t had our people with us.
“It’s impossible to build anything [like that] because they are the biggest part of our foundation and when they are with us and when they are embracing what we are doing, you see the difference because they are able to create momentum and create the energy and the passion that they did at the weekend [for the north Londond derby] and when that happens, the team responds.”