Arsenal have recorded a consecutive seventh win in all competitions under Unai Emery after the losses to Manchester City and Chelsea in the Premier League.
The Gunners beat Watford 2-0 at the Emirates in a match where the Hornets gave them a run for their money by being physical and pressing high for almost the whole game. Watford had their best chances in the second half when Isaac Success came on as a substitute but squandered them while the Londoners’ super-subs made a telling difference on the other end of the pitch.
Alex Iwobi got involved in both the goals and Danny Welbeck also played a great one-two with Alexandre Lacazette, who assisted Mesut Ozil. The 2-0 scoreline was not a real representation of the game, Watford had come very close to taking all the three points before Arsenal scored two goals in as many minutes to put the game to bed.
It came down to the so called ‘mentality’ of the North Londoners, who nicked the game in the 82nd minute with a second goal. The ‘mentality’ of the recent Arsenal teams was always questioned by all the pundits and their own fans when it came to big away matches and tricky opponents. But the new head coach has instilled some self-belief and an attitude to carry on when things don’t go well. Alex Iwobi spoke glowingly about it after the Watford game,
“I’m more positive and more confident with the ball. The boss has basically told me that if something doesn’t work, just keep going and don’t dwell on it. He’s told me to stop being so critical and to just keep trying no matter what happens.
That’s given me a lot more confidence to try a few more things, like beat a player, to shoot more. I’m always ready to get on the ball a bit more, so I guess it’s helped in that sense.”
The Gaffer’s little micro-management of players has changed their attitude while playing in tough situations. This attitude showed when Arsenal sustained Watford’s high press and delivered goals when they got their opportunities. They have won the mental and physical battles till now but sterner and better teams will only take best out of this group of players.
COMPETITION WITHIN THE SQUAD
Unai Emery’s tactics of substituting the under-performing players on the given day have made all the players very alert and of self-assessing nature. This has worked very positively and developed a healthy competition within the squad.
As mentioned earlier Alex Iwobi is one of the stars of the Spaniard’s tactics while there is a core competition for places and the challengers like Mkhitaryan, Danny Welbeck, Mohammed Elneny, Rob Holding and all other squad members are starting to perform well when given their chances.
Bernd Leno also got his Premier League start with a hamstring injury to Cech, but sitting on bench and playing only cup games was tough for the German. The Bayer Leverkusen shot-stopper stayed calm through this period by what seems to be a talk with the Gaffer which he mentioned in one of his interviews,
“Don’t be disappointed or sad, just train hard.” was what the Spaniard told him to do.
The hunger of playing week in week out instilled by the head coach and being more demanding is working positively for the squad in terms of performances.
Arsenal’s record last year away from home has been woeful in recent years and tricky ties away to Stoke, Southampton and West Brom were nightmares to the Gunners faithful. All the changes in attitude and mentality has shown when we have won away at Cardiff City and Newcastle. Arsenal cannot get ahead of themselves but these small positives are going to help them improve in the near future under Emery
Arsenal’s character, mentality and attitude would be put to test in October when they play four away games out of six including long away trips to Azerbaijan to play Qarabag and a trip to Portugal to face Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League.
Arsenal has shown fine improvements under the new head coach and would like to improve further ahead on the present-day situation which he mentioned in his interview,
“Each match is very important for us to win, to get minutes, to take responsibility, confidence and continue creating our idea and our style. We need to work to continue what we’re doing.”
Emery knows where and which player can be pushed one step further to get the positive results going. His new ways of training with individual players and groups is increasingly the required competitiveness. After this month, he would be in a real position to judge his team’s credentials and further improve it when they meet the big boys of the league in November and December.
All the discussions and arguments regarding Arsenal’s mentality would be long gone with the kind of attitude Emery has brought in the team and the results that same attitude brings on the pitch.