Wins over Fulham and West Ham have seen Arsenal start their Premier League campaign brightly and have them sitting third on the table.
But a comprehensive victory over the newly promoted Fulham before being made to look second-rate for most of the game against West Ham shows Mikel Arteta’s side are far from the finished product.
They have been many positive signs, however, including captain Pierre Emerick Aubameyang’s goalscoring form and newly signed defender Gabriel from French side Lille having a solid start to life in England’s top flight. There are a lot of positive things to take out of the first two games, but way they won against West Ham showed just how far off the pace Arsenal can be when they’re not switched on.
Now, to say the Hammers deserved at least a point would be kind – in truth they deserved all three. Constantly harassing and overloading the Gunners midfield resulted in constant missed passes from midfield pairing Granit Xhaka and Dani Ceballos as West Ham really took it up to Arsenal.
The hopeful arrival new midfielders Thomas Party from Atletico Madrid or Houssem Aouar will be greatly needed, as far too often the Gunners have lacked that creativity and guile in midfield they lacked against the Hammers.
Defensively they were back to their worst on Saturday. New signing Gabriel was again a bright light as Rob Holding was given the run around by Michail Antonio, and if you had any doubt at how important Kieran Tierney and Ainsley Maitland-Niles are to the side’s defensive and offensive structure, look no further than Saturday’s game. There were no overlapping lung-bursting runs from Tierney with his great crossing ability, nor was there the powerful performance of Maitland-Niles with and without the ball.
Adding young gun William Saliba to eventually partner Gabriel has Arsenal fans excited, but Mikel Arteta has made it clear he will not rush the young Frenchman. Expect him to feature in the midweek Cup tie against Leicester. That’s what Arsenal sorely missed, but as the saying goes, good teams just find a way to win when they’re not at their best, and that’s exactly what they did.
Two wins from the opening two games is all you can ask from Arteta and his side. With a midweek Cup tie against Leicester City before visiting Anfield to take on reigning champions Liverpool in their next Premier League clash, we will find out a lot about the Gunners over the course of this week.
Arsenal are on the right track with improvements clear to see, but as people need to be reminded, they are still very much a work in progress.