Following the 3 early defeats of season against easily arguable better teams in Man City, Chelsea and a Brentford side that most will have realised by now mean business, Arsenal managed to put together a 3 game winning streak against Norwich, Burnley and North London rivals Tottenham, before being stopped in there tracks by Brighton on the weekend.
If you've been following my articles you will know that for Arteta to keep my faith I laid down the expectation he would have to get Arsenal to Anfield in 4 games time with at least 22 points. That meant Arsenal winning near enough all their games between Manchester City and Liverpool with the exception of a single draw.
I had hoped that getting passed Burnley and Norwich, the North London Derby would be the reality check the squad needed to find their consistency. It had looked like that was the case with Arsenal putting together a convincing performance against our rivals, but Brighton are clearly a better team and gave Arsenal a lesson in possession and pressing football on the weekend.
With the allowance of a draw already spent, can Arsenal win the next 4 games against Palace, Villa, Leicester and Watford? And can they do it without Xhaka? Palace have proved a tough team to beat under Arsenal's very own Patrick Vieira, Villa are proving to be just as much of a nuisance without Grealish, Leicester are struggling to find their feet but they are getting there and Watford most certainly shouldn't be considered a threat if we still believe we are a "Big Club", especially at home.
At this point I wouldn't bet very much on Arsenal grabbing all 12 points. In my mind the draw would have come against Spurs, or Leicester away, but with time having past since game week 3, Villa and Palace look much more difficult prospects, whilst Leicester haven fallen in my estimations. I massively underestimated Brighton, Graham Potter has developed Brighton into a very good ball playing team. Tottenham fans will be sorely wishing that Levy had brought Potter in rather than Nuno and I'm sure some section of the Arsenal faithful will have watched the weekends game thinking, "Why aren't we playing like Brighton?"
I'm banking on Arsenal making the most of the "12th man" with 3 of those 4 games being played at home and all clubs being equally poor away. I haven't attended a home game this season but what I hear from friends is that the Emirates has a buzz to it like they haven't felt before.
My position has softened slightly since the win at Spurs, I think I could tolerate 1 more draw as long as it doesn't come against Palace or Watford. Anymore points dropped and it is going to take a win at Anfield to bring me and many others around, that's if Arteta survives losing anymore points by then?
The threats are varied and strong in Zaha, Benteke, Gallagher, Ings, Bailey, Watkins, Vardy and Sarr. They are all good tests for Arsenal's new look back 4 before facing off against Salah and Co. Unless Arsenal find the consistency to build on that Spurs win, it's going to be a stressful few weeks for us Arsenal fans before we have to either take losing to Liverpool on the chin or Liverpool put us and Arteta out of our misery and force the club to at least start looking for another manager.
Does Arteta deserve any sympathy for not being able to complete these games without Granit Xhaka? Almost all Arsenal fans could see the midfield was an injury away from being in trouble, but whether Arteta felt he could make do or his hand was forced to wait for another day is unclear. I certainly didn't feel there were any concrete links between Arsenal and another midfielder after it was realised Locatelli was waiting out for Juve. Maybe Edu and Arteta simply didn't want to buy for the sake of it, especially when struggling to offload a couple more players and prioritising other areas of the pitch. I will be extremely eager to see what Arsenal manage to get done in January.
There were plenty of players that would have fit the bill in my mind, but Arteta has a very narrow idea of what he wants. In the model of Xhaka and Locatelli, a defensive player with an eye for getting the ball forward, possessing a great range of passing ability, but most of all, a leader. Most people were slightly dumbfounded when Arsenal were linked to Chelsea's Jorginho last year, but 1 Champions League and Euro's later that looks like it would have been a very good signing.
Out of the 2 problems I was most concerned would hinder Arteta's relationship with the fans, Arteta has managed to win me over in 1 of those. I thought signing Tomiyasu was only going to complicate matters at right back further but I'm glad to say I couldn't have been more wrong, so props to Arteta there. Can Arteta do the same with the midfield and prove he has the tactical ability to play without Xhaka?
If the North London Derby didn't turn out to be the wake up call I thought it would be, Brighton most certainly was. The Arsenal squad cannot rest on their laurels, otherwise those Arsenal fans asking "Why don't Arsenal play like Brighton?" Might find Potter taking over the reigns from Mikel by or before January...
Those who would have read my previous articles will know I have not so secretly had Bayern Leverkusen's Gerardo Seaone in mind. If you had taken notice, you will be more than aware Leverkusen are currently sitting pretty in second place with 20 goals in 7 games.
...Quite prematurely I'm talking about a managerial replacement. Arteta still has time to prove doubters wrong and I am backing him to turn this Arsenal team around and build on top of the solid foundations he has laid with Tierney, Gabriel, White, Tomiyasu and Ramsdale.