Everything happens at Arsenal. The north London revival continued their steady rise with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Leicester on Sunday to return to the top four in a grueling schedule in March.
To be one point above Manchester United with three games less – two of which will take place before the end of the week – is nothing short of remarkable. Coincidentally, it took just three games for Arsenal to bottom the Premier League table this season.
The worst start to the campaign in nearly 70 years follows successive eighth places in the standings. For a club that has spent more than two decades under the management of the same man, the difficulties of a transition period would truly test the patience of supporters.
Still, there had to be signs of progress. Fans longed for physical proof that the club was heading in the right direction, as opposed to just visceral emotions.
Arsenal deserve credit for their unflappable stance on Mikel Arteta who could rightly have been sacked earlier in his career
Last season, there weren’t many.
After ending a 30-game away run without a win against the Big Six, Arsenal embarked on a record seven game winless streak, collecting just eight points from 36 available in 12 league appearances.
You could easily have justified Mikel Arteta being removed from his position. That November run isn’t the only one the basis for his sacking, but despite the roars for his sacking, there would be no ax. One wonders if the club would have caved in to toxicity if fans were there in the stadiums to witness the apparent demise of a once-cherished institution.
However, they did not. Thank God.
There is no conceivable way to look at this team, the harmony within the group, the tactical ingenuity, the stability, the future or the present, and say that Arsenal made a mistake by not sacking Arteta. At times, there were reasons galore, too many to count, and they resisted.
Loyalty is a dying concept in football. What Arsenal have done is stick with Arteta, whose long-term vision will have been mapped out, despite having no compelling reason to do so. The result of that belief, whether blind or bright, is what we see today.
This club is more united than it has been in years. A core of likeable and talented players are supported by a highly skilled coaching staff whose trajectories are clear and headed in one direction.
None of this would have been possible without the club supporting their man through adversity and outcry of anguish. Even those of us who were emotionally invested in Arteta had begun to lose faith in his ability to turn things around.
Opinions change. This season alone, the views have been changed weekly, almost all of them for the better. And regardless of the initial stance on Arteta at the time, no one can look back and wish the situation was handled differently.
Whether or not this results in Champions League football, you can’t help but smile at what’s going on. All is good at the moment and there is no reason not to feel good on this subject.
Let’s be happy, because the players certainly are.