Jonathan Wilson

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Arsenal are fourth! Arsenal have won their past three league games in a row! Arsenal have beaten Tottenham Hotspur and are now above them in the table! Arsenal have won seven out of seven at home this season!

Arsenal defeated Huddersfield Town 5-0 on Wednesday with all three of their expensive forwards scoring! Arsenal are four points off second! At the Emirates Stadium, dreams are – tentatively – being dreamed again.

But Arsenal are still Arsenal. The contract situations of Alexis Sánchez and Mesut Özil remain unresolved. There has been some odd shift in the calendar this year and November has been good to them but everyone knows what happens next. This is the moment in the cycle at which the more excitable fans start wondering whether Arsène Wenger does have one last glorious title in him and even the calmer ones start feeling that the threat of Tottenham was always overstated (which may turn out to be true if Mauricio Pochettino really has followed the Hoddle‑O’Leary Protocol of self‑immolation by ill‑advised diary).
And that, of course, is precisely the moment at which Arsenal Arsenal it up. Even worse, looking ahead to Saturday, there is no manager in the league more likely to stamp on the sparks of Wengerian hope than José Mourinho. In 17 meetings between the managers, Wenger has come out on top only twice. Both of those wins, admittedly, have come in the past two and a half years, but then both come with an asterisk: one was in the Community Shield and one came in May after Mourinho Roger Clemens Jersey had effectively given up on the league to focus on the Europa League.
But this is an issue that goes far beyond the tension between Mourinho and Wenger. If that were the only Womens Terence Newman Jersey problem at Arsenal, it wouldn’t be much of a problem at all. The far greater issue, the one that lurks behind all other analyses, is Arsenal and an inconsistency that has dragged on for more than a decade, a sense of indecisiveness that percolates down from the top.
Özil was, in very different ways, superb against Tottenham and against Huddersfield. He remains, at his best, a hugely effective player. He has registered five assists and scored two goals in the league this season. He racked up 28 assists over the previous two seasons. Against Tottenham he galloped up and down the flank, defending with gusto. But that only served to give the lie to the notion that his style is too subtle for normal standards to apply: when he wants to work hard, it looks like he is working hard. He is not some ultra-sophisticated ergonomic sprite, working by not working, his diffident wandering disguising a furious efficacy; all those games when he drifted around ineffectively in a reverie, he was just drifting around.
Mourinho was well aware of Özil’s limitations at Real Madrid, which was why he so often consigned him to the flank. It’s hard to believe he will not be targeted on Saturday.
Özil, though, is just the most visible sign of a wider issue. Can this Arsenal be trusted? They pressed with great intensity against Tottenham, producing the sort of committed display they had in the FA Cup semi-final and final last season, or against Manchester United in the league the season before last. The question is so familiar these days as to be almost a cliché, but why can’t they play like that every week? The defeats at Watford and Liverpool this season, in particular, stemmed from an extraordinary sloppiness.
Well as Arsenal have played in the past three weeks, does anyone really think that Womens Vic Beasley Jersey has been eradicated, that there won’t be another game, be it on Saturday or in a week or a month, when that laxity recurs? It’s not as simple as talking about them needing to be more committed or make more tackles: Arsenal make 16.1 tackles per game, which is the joint eighth-highest average in the Premier League. That may not sound like much (although it is more than United) but they also have the third-highest possession stats: of the seven sides who have made more tackles than them, only three – Chelsea, Liverpool and Southampton – are also in the top half of the possession charts.
Rather it is about organisation and focus, about maintaining the discipline of the press, and the biggest problem is that when that falls apart, when attacks are not Brian Propp Authentic Jersey thwarted high up the pitch, the two holding players, Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka, for all their passing qualities, do not necessarily offer the best cover to the three central defenders.


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