“Extraordinary” is how supervisor Mikel Arteta summed up Arsenal’s season up to now – and few would disagree.
After a 3-2 victory towards Manchester United on Sunday, the Gunners reached 50 factors from 19 league video games – a feat by no means earlier than achieved by an Arsenal aspect midway by the season.
Arteta’s workforce is now 5 factors clear on the high of the league with a recreation in hand over second-placed Manchester Metropolis. The Premier League’s high two groups have but to play one another this season.
“It doesn’t get a lot better than that, that’s the fact,” the Spaniard stated after the win towards United.
“I believe we deserve the factors that we now have, I believe we now have performed effectively sufficient to win a lot of the matches, however the actuality as effectively is that we nonetheless have quite a lot of issues that we are able to get a lot better at.”
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The sport towards United supplied a stern take a look at of Arsenal’s title credentials.
Marcus Rashford’s excellent strike gave the visiting aspect the lead, just for the Gunners to reply seven minutes later when Eddie Nketiah headed in on the again put up from Granit Xhaka’s glorious cross.
With the match stage at halftime, Bukayo Saka seized the benefit for Arsenal and answered Rashford’s aim with a long-range effort of his personal.
The England worldwide fired a left-footed shot past the attain of David de Gea’s outstretched arm – his seventh league aim of the season and one he later described as his finest ever.
He celebrated by placing his finger to his temple, simply as Rashford had achieved within the first half.
Now, nonetheless, it was United’s flip to return from behind as a diving Lisandro Martinez headed Aaron Ramsdale’s save into the Arsenal internet.
That leveled the match at 2-2 and United appeared content material to accept the draw. Not so Arsenal, which continued to press for the successful aim.
Saka hit the put up and Nketiah had a shot saved by de Gea earlier than finally getting the all-important aim with a flick of his foot within the ninetieth minute.
With that, the Emirates Stadium erupted and Arsenal’s Premier League title cost gathered additional tempo.
It’s been almost twenty years since Arsenal final lifted the league trophy, a interval courting again to the 2003/04 season when Arsène Wenger’s “Invincibles” went unbeaten with 26 wins and 12 attracts.
However even that workforce was wanting the 50 factors the present crop of gamers have amassed on the midway stage of the season, a milestone solely recorded on 4 earlier events – Manchester Metropolis in 2017/18, Liverpool in 2018/19 and 2019/20, and Chelsea in 2005/06.
For Arsenal followers, this season has been the stuff of goals. Except for successful the FA Cup 4 occasions between 2014 and 2020, the membership’s current historical past has largely been characterised by inconsistency and underachievement.
And when Arteta led Arsenal to successive eighth-placed finishes within the Premier League throughout his first two seasons in cost, many thought the membership’s struggles would proceed indefinitely.
However the youngest squad within the league – with a median age of simply over 24 years outdated – has surpassed all expectations, its solely loss coming towards United again in September.
Considerations about Arsenal’s lack of squad depth or star energy in comparison with rivals have by no means materialized.
Ukrainian worldwide Oleksandr Zinchenko has been a revelation since arriving from Manchester Metropolis final yr, former loanee Martin Ødegaard has offered eight objectives and 5 assists within the league, and Xhaka, a participant generally seen as wayward and ill-disciplined, has been excellent this season.
Gabriel Jesus, one other summer season signing from Man Metropolis, made a superb begin earlier than an damage interrupted his season, whereas the current arrival of Leandro Trossard from Brighton additional strengthens Arsenal’s attacking choices.
“I believe at the moment [against United] we confirmed we are able to play at one other stage,” Saka instructed Arsenal Media. “We will play when there’s stress on us.
“I believe it’s the earliest time this season we’ve gone behind and we fought again, and even till the top, we stored going till the final minute and received the breakthrough.”
Earlier than Arsenal and Manchester Metropolis play within the league, the 2 groups meet within the FA Cup fourth spherical on Friday.
Win that and the potential for claiming silverware in a number of competitions – a distant thought initially of the season – will all of a sudden really feel very actual.