Premier League giants Arsenal have continued to go from strength to strength in the opening weeks of the 2023-23 season as Mikel Arteta’s Gunners strolled to a consummate 4-0 win over relegation candidates Bournemouth at Vitality Stadium this afternoon.
The Gunners made easy work of Andoni Iraola’s Cherries on the south coast to book their fifth win of the league campaign with goals from Bukayo Saka, Martin Ødegaard, Ben White, and a first Arsenal goal for key summer signing Kai Havertz, to which Arteta spoke on during his post-match press conference.
However, some fans had already begun to suggest that the title race was already lost after a pair of draws against bitter rivals last weekend Tottenham as well as at home against Fulham a month ago after hegemonic side Manchester City jumped to the top of the table on the back of six wins in six before today.
But that has all changed now at the snap of a finger, with Arsenal now up to second (depending on the result of Tottenham-Liverpool which is 1-1 at the time of writing) and just one point off City’s pace on the back of the champions suffering a shock 2-1 defeat away at Wolves, with Arsenal having gone undefeated in their opening seven league fixtures for the first time since 2007 under Arsène Wenger.
Many fans often forget that football, especially at the immensely competitive level of the Premier League, is, you know, difficult. The draw against Spurs stung for all of us, and rightfully so, given that we dropped points at home against one of our most hated - if not our most hated - rivals. Much the same can be said for the 2-2 affair against Fulham, but as usual, so many struggled to apply the requisite context.
It is no small feat that Arsenal shattered its record transfer when they prized England star Declan Rice away from West Ham United this summer for a fee that eclipsed £100m (a figure countless fans never thought the club would spend on a single player), while also securing a big money move for the aforementioned Havertz as well as Dutch starlet Jurriën Timber and a shock loan-to-buy move for Brentford’s David Raya.
The additions of Rice and Raya have gone off without a hitch, while Timber looked incredibly bright before suffering a heartbreaking long-term injury that could see him out for the rest of the season. As for Havertz, though his start in terms of direct contributions has been slow to get going, his overall level of play has been deceptively effective in other phases on the pitch.
Regardless of the key additions to the team and the tactical tweaks that have taken place since the summer, many fans were quick to throw in the towel on the title race despite Arsenal having yet to lose on all fronts this season as well as banking a Community Shield win over City to set off on the best result possible this term.
The Gunners started their return to the Champions League in bright fashion with a strong 4-0 win against PSV Eindhoven in a group they should comfortably walk, while also dispatching Brentford in the Carabao Cup despite fielding an XI largely populated with second-string options or reservists.
There is little if any reason for fans to already roll out the doom and gloom scenarios on social media even if some of Arsenal’s performances have not been at peak levels this season, but when context is applied regarding the changes that have been made since the summer in addition to some of the fitness concerns that have already cropped up for Arteta, the Gunners are very much in the hunt.
Maybe, just maybe, fans need to keep having a little bit more faith in that same process that has proven itself time and again once the wheels began to turn in the north of London.