Arsenal continued their dazzling start to the season with a 2-1 win against Aston Villa at Emirates Stadium on Friday.
It’s their fifth consecutive win since the start of the season, and it underlines their considerable improvement over last year.
Gabriel Jesus, Oleksandr Zinchenko and William Saliba have refreshed the team. That coupled with the consolidation of their young core has buoyed the entire club.
One criticism that could be leveled at Arsenal is that they haven’t played anyone particularly challenging. However, that’s not the point.
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Not long ago, Arsenal were playing poorly. At that time, it didn’t matter who they played against either. They could have faced Manchester City or Norwich, either way they were clearly bad.
It’s the same now. It doesn’t matter who they play, they play well. They are clearly good this season.
Against Aston Villa, they continued their streak of scoring immediately after conceding a goal. They did the same against Leicester and Fulham, killing any potential momentum for their opponents before it could breathe.
This more than anything is the difference with Arsenal this season – they can sustain pressure. The goals conceded against Leicester, Fulham and Villa will be of obvious concern. However, the way they’ve been able to impose their football on their opponents for the entire game is what catches the eye. They attack in waves now.
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Now though, the schedule gets busy. In fact it doesn’t just get busy, it gets insane. It’s the same for every team, but the Gunners have to prove they can cope with the extra demands. It isn’t about the challenge of the opponents in front of you, it’s about the challenge of the schedule.
Arsenal already have injuries in midfield to Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny. If they lose another player or two, they will once again look like the thin squad from last season who faded away due to injuries and fatigue.
The challenge starts on Monday against Manchester United at Old Trafford, followed by a midweek Europa League game and then Everton next Sunday. From then on it’s three games a week until November.