This time, Mikel Arteta’s team doesn’t have the full force of that title-chasing headwind blowing straight in their faces since they have five fewer points after 12 games.
It’s not a negative thing, either.
With about a third of the campaign remaining, the team will be content with their position, nestled in a point behind the leaders. They are more calculated, less spectacular, and definitely more efficient with the energy they’re putting out.
With a more measured gait, this Arsenal team is definitely in the running for the crown.
Still need to get into full speed
The eye test will reveal that Arsenal’s attacking style is less flashy and that you are not being misled.
There are 11 Premier League sides (including the previously timid Everton and Wolves) with a greater xG total from open play than Arteta’s class of 2023. They are not quite as quick, fluid, or lethal, and they surely don’t have the same carefree mentality.
Considering how dominant they have been in the most of the matchups thus far, that is astounding.
A drawback? Both yes and no.
I think it’s a good thing because Arsenal needs to improve this aspect of their game with the players they have. What has been the problem? Well, new on-field relationships have been formed around new players Kai Havertz and Declan Rice. Those combinations should start to flow more naturally in the coming months. Another new thing they’ve had to deal with is a starting XI that is always changing. Injuries and the need to keep some players fresh for Champions League action have contributed to a decline in Arsenal’s rhythmic excellence. Assuming Arsenal wins their next match against Lens, this won’t be a problem until February.
Additionally, Gabriel Jesus, who likes to cause havoc, has been a huge miss as a central striker.
The lively Brazilian has led the line in the UEFA Champions League and scored three goals in a row, but in domestic play he has only started one top-flight game as a center forward, with the other three goals going wide.
This and its effects have not received enough attention.
Jesus always finds space for teammates, especially Saka, Odegaard, and Martinelli. He also creates match-winning moments and never stops upsetting defenders. The Gunners find it much easier to break down stubborn opponents when Jesus is fit and on fire.
Learnings have been realized
Additionally, Arteta has added more pragmatism.
In defense? Nope. However, their control of the game is far more cautious than it was in that exuberant, frequently chaotic 2022–23 campaign.
Full back overlaps are now selectively chosen rather than reflexive, indicating a more developed technique.
Of course, the enormous William Saliba-Declan Rice axis along the spine is helpful, but taking risks has decreased.
An example of this is Arsenal’s 1-0 triumph over rival Manchester City at home.
The supporters wanted attack after attack, but the Gunners delivered a composed, risk-averse display that gave the winners only four opportunities. Slogging out wins against the best is a fresh addition to their resume.
For the majority of the preceding year, clean sheets were just a “away thing,” but all of a sudden, shutouts are starting to accumulate both at home and away.
While not everyone enjoys xG, only two opponents at Emirates Stadium have scored more than one predicted goal in a game this season, and five of their last six opponents have scored fewer than 0.6.
Now, from open play, Arsenal has the greatest anticipated goals against total in the division.
Growing from a solid defensive foundation, the Gunners have quietly developed into a difficult team to overcome.
Their game management is far more astute; they play with more control and are less likely to get carried away just for
The percentage of Rice
Declan Rice is another.
With his flawless 8/10 performances, Arsenal’s record signing is proving to be well worth the money spent on him.
His decision-making has been flawless, and over the course of a 38-game season, his footballing IQ will be worth several points. He exudes confidence.
Rice is the glue that keeps this club together, so as long as he stays healthy, the Gunners can compete with anybody.
More suited to maintain a safe distance
Even if this Arsenal team’s performances and results aren’t as striking, I think they’re better than the team that placed second in 2022–2023.
They ought to strengthen the team in January as well. To give Jesus more competition, I’d love to see a striker join the team. In addition, a fresh central midfielder would be helpful in case Thomas Partey’s injury problems don’t get better.
It is everything that is required.
Though there are encouraging hints, Havertz for Xhaka does not appear to be an upgrade at this time. Aside from that, Arteta’s gifted youth have all grown older and wiser.
By the time May arrives, it may not take many significant changes for Arsenal to finish ahead of both Manchester City and Liverpool, who are still strong favorites.
I’m hopeful and really interested in what will come next.