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Arsenal’s acid test awaits with trickier Premier League fixtures ahead

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In a world where spirits have plummeted since Christmas after another lockdown in the UK, those of Arsenal fans have exploded. Well, as much as they can in the midst of a global pandemic.

After ending a seven-game winning streak, the Gunners used the momentum of a 3-1 win over Chelsea on Boxing Day to make them five unbeaten Premier League games.

While they have impressed in this recent run, the real mark of any improvement under Mikel Arteta will be seen in Arsenal’s upcoming league games.

After beating Brighton, West Brom and Newcastle, Arsenal’s courage will be put to the test against Southampton, Leeds, Wolves, Aston Villa, Leicester and the two Manchester clubs, which they will each face before the end of the month. from February.

As intimidating as it may sound, Arsenal are much better equipped to take on them than they would have been three weeks ago.

The emergence of Emile Smith Rowe, gliding effortlessly across the pitch like an albatross in flight, injected an incisive, straightforward quality into the Arsenal midfielder that was sorely lacking earlier in the campaign. His fellow Hale End graduate Bukayo Saka has also been instrumental, scoring three goals and two assists in his last five league games.

The 'Croydon De Bruyne' was the key to the Gunners' resurgence
‘Croydon De Bruyne’ key to Gunners’ resurgence | Shaun Botterill / Getty Images

Much has been said about Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s discomfort this season. Ahead of Monday night’s game, the Gabon international had only scored once in 11 Premier League appearances. A timely brace from their skipper is exactly what Arsenal needed before running up against more stubborn defenses.

Speaking of defenses, Arsenal have been much more regulated and organized in recent weeks.

They have now retained five consecutive clean sheets in all competitions for the first time since February 2009. The comfort defenders, especially Rob Holding, have shown on the ball means Arsenal look much more confident in possession. .

Rob Holding's improved performance helped Arsenal keep five clean sheets in a row
Rob Holding’s improved performance helped Arsenal keep five clean sheets in a row | Catherine Ivill / Getty Images

This is in stark contrast to when they were freaked out and pushed into making preventable mistakes that caused them to run too often in the fall.

They have the chance to correct that against players like Villa, Leicester, Wolves and Manchester City in the coming weeks. The squad as a whole have to prove their poor start to the season a failure, by being smarter and more pragmatic in these reverse matches.

In the humiliating 3-0 loss to Villa, the lack of accountability and tactical naivety of Arsenal players was apparent as they were knocked out at will by well-trained opposition. The same happened against the Foxes, with Jamie Vardy once again proving to be a painful thorn on Arsenal’s side.

Arteta's side will need to improve against players like Leicester if they are to seriously claim European places
Arteta’s side will need to improve against players like Leicester if they are to seriously claim European places | Catherine Ivill / Getty Images

This is where Arteta deserves credit for being able to motivate a group of people who seemed disorganized and disinterested. Judging by the timing of Arsenal’s return to fortunes, N7 must have been inundated with festive glee at Yuletide.

The Spaniard has also found a key component in building a squad, which has not been around north London for some time. Balanced.

Under his predecessor Unai Emery, the Gunners were enthusiastic, all aboard the mad train. However, Arteta is a bit more Fleetwood Mac than Ozzy Osborne, considered and gentle in the canoe.

Arteta needs to show his tactics ahead of a series of tough Premier League fixtures
Arteta needs to show his tactics ahead of a series of tough Premier League games | Pool / Getty Images

A change in performance was needed and, as he has done so often throughout such a short time at the helm, Arteta got the best out of his players when it was needed most. This must continue if Arsenal are to come back anywhere near the top of the league.

After their 2020/21 start to the season, Arsenal are already catching up and can hardly afford another run of inconsistent performances if they want to play European football next season.

Arsenal are back on track, but can't afford to let their standards slip against tougher opposition
Arsenal are back on track, but cannot afford to let their standards slip against tougher opposition | Catherine Ivill / Getty Images

Just as the past three weeks have been full of positivity and progress, the progress made by Arteta and Arsenal could quickly be undermined if players allow old habits to come back under pressure.

It’s been a good start to 2021 for the Gunners, but they have a lot more work to do to make this season a successful one.

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