Some say don’t get carried away, but after a run of one win in fifteen games, the worst home run in more than 60 years and a bottom half of the table occupancy – the victory over ~Man United can be described as a bit more than ‘welcome.’
The manner in which we vanquished our old foes at The Emirates is probably the biggest reason why Gooners are enjoying optimism for the first time this season. After such a dark spell under Unai Emery where fundamental factors had begun to break down, beating Manchester United so comprehensively was like a salve on a burn.
It was also the first time we had beaten top half opposition this season. The hunger to win back possession, the willing running and above all else, the will to track back and help their teammates was the cornerstone on which we built this win. Lucas Torreira and Granit Xhaka played fantastically – amazing what can happen when a player is played in his natural position isn’t it – and David Luiz showed why he can be a key figure in our defence this season.
Even Mesut Ozil exhibited what most of us knew already – that he is far from lazy – as he won more ball recoveries and covered the third most ground out of all players on the pitch.
All of the above points to a team that has got behind the new coach’s philosophy. Mikel Arteta spoke after the victory and was asked what were the initial changes he had made, and he replied that he had helped his players rediscover their hunger for winning.
David Luiz spoke as well, and his candid comments lifted the lid on what the players had to contend with when Unai Emery was at the helm, speaking about how happiness is key and now that the players are happy, anything is possible.
The joy has spread to the stands too. I was at the game and the noise levels were reaching points that I hadn’t heard for some time. It was also quite some time since I saw such a large percentage of fans stay behind after the final whistle to applaud and sing toward the players.
Yes, it was one victory, but how many time shave we played a terrible United side and still ran out losers?
After having so little to cheer about all season, I will be enjoying this wave of optimism that is currently flowing around the fanbase.
It could still turn out to be a false dawn, but as of right now?
Mikel is doing a damn fine job.