Things in the rearview mirror might not be as far away as they appear. Since this seemingly eternal Premier League season began, Arsenal has kept a comfortable lead over Manchester City at the top of the standings, maintaining that sky-blue vessel of athletic excellence in the near slipstream from October into spring, much to the joy of those with Arsenal tickets.
Five Arsenal outfield players sank into the same position at the final whistle on a hot, gloomy afternoon at the London Stadium, remaining on their feet but feeling the wash of late-season nausea. They were bent at the waist.
In this case, a 2-2 draw meant that an eight-point lead had decreased to six points, four points, and possibly one point. There have been moments when the skinny-legged, black-clad creature in the rearview mirror with bulging eyes and pounding fists has seemed far away. He is standing exactly there, with one hand firmly gripping the rear bumper and never pausing.
How do you stay ahead of the most potent team, the best manager, and the most well-rounded nation-state project team ever? This Pep Guardiola-led engine of excellence. For the past five years, this is the first time anyone has been able to respond reliably to this question.
And indeed, it will still be tempting to see Arsenal’s loss as proof of some fatal competitive weakness, a fault in character, or a collapse of the rabbit heart. Arsenal had taken a two-goal lead twice in back-to-back Sundays before merely plateauing, losing their motivation, and ultimately holding on like a leggy heavyweight.
With 10 minutes remaining against relegation-threatened opponents, they were up 2-0. Over much of the first 30 minutes, they ran through lighter air, gliding past West Ham players. The black forms moved across that giant lime-green checkerboard in effortless, smooth, pre-grooved patterns from high in the cantilevered stands of the London Stadium. The ball fizzed and zipped, and it seemed simple.
And yet, after 30 minutes, the players and the travelling fans with Arsenal tickets had a sense of energy that had been lost, of lost rhythms, and of code that had become tense. West Ham had a solid game.
They swarmed into it after sensing the air loosened, and Saad Benrahma removed one from the location. After 54 minutes, Jarrod Bowen scored an equaliser that, in all honesty, had been expected, making the score 2-2.
And Martin Odegaard’s performance was undoubtedly what best captured Arsenal’s entropy. He had set up the first goal with a gorgeous pass that came before the pass, taking the ball from Partey and guiding it into White’s path in a way that seemed to sew the day’s events together.
This kind of pass had its own set of instructions pre-loaded. A signal to take the ball without stopping and cross it low and forcefully to Gabriel Jesus at the back post.
Odegaard was amazing for twenty minutes as those watching with Arsenal tickets roared. He volleyed in Gabriel Martinelli’s cross for the second goal. He appeared to be the profoundly contemporary type of creative footballer he is, with the feet of a street urchin and the mind of a highly accomplished architecture engineer. He is a prodigy who is now evolving into what he was meant to be, making him even more exceptional. He is still in the chrysalis stage, yet he is also 24.
He is near, like Arsenal. Yet, those distances might occasionally be misleading.
After that, the weather changed. For the second consecutive week in a row, Arsenal essentially halted. Those fluid, fizzed passes started to sputter, and Overloads stopped occurring. To make it 3-1, Bukayo Saka missed a penalty.
Then with precisely 30 minutes left, Odegaard started tossing passes around with startling inaccuracy, missing his target like a fault in a computer programme.
It appeared to be happening in real-time by the time it was through. Is it truly a choke to call it that? Or is it just a failure to keep things close to perfect? Arsenal has felt the pressure, but they have not given in. Many players had reached their breaking point twice in the past week.
There will be inquiries made. Mikel Arteta introduced Jorginho with 25 seconds remaining. A slick, accurate midfielder who excels at recycling phases of possession may be just what you need when you’re on the verge of curling into a ball under the brain-crushing pressure of repeated away collapses.
The Arsenal bench, though, was hopeful rather than a champion one. In the starting XI, they need to establish international stars.
With some excellent young players and leftovers, this group has been pounded into shape. Antonio occasionally terrorised Rob Holding. Holding has a lot of advantages, and one of them needs to be able to run faster to compete for a league title. Arsenal is frantically working on getting Saliba ready to take on Haaland’s absolute imperial power, and it is clear why.
It might be enough for Arsenal to win at the Etihad without losing. Nevertheless, they are also considering the pressure of maintaining that advantage through an unending league season and being pursued to the bitter end by the most abundantly resourced club football of the period. Unsurprisingly, there will be some discomfort and mental tiredness along the road.
Arsenal is one of the top contenders to recruit Dusan Vlahovic from Juventus, according to Calciomercatoweb (via Sportswitness). Those who own Arsenal tickets applaud the decision.
Due to their financial difficulties and the Serbian’s recent bad performances for the Old Lady, the Italian heavyweights are willing to sell him this season.
The Gunners must compete with European powerhouses like Real Madrid and PSG to sign him.
According to Todofichajes, RB Leipzig wants to sign Folarin Balogun, currently on loan from Arsenal, in the summer.
Leipzig wants to use the forward, currently on loan at Reims, to replace the leaving Christopher Nkunku.
Several Premier League clubs are watching PSV star Xavi Simons, who might be leaving in the summer. Fichajes claims that Arsenal is prepared to engage in a three-way battle to sign the incredibly gifted midfielder.
The 19-year-old dynamic midfielder is expected to draw interest from Chelsea, Liverpool, and the Gunners.
Wilfried Zaha, a winger for Crystal Palace, is expected to leave the organisation after the current campaign on a free transfer.
According to Foot Mercato, Arsenal, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, and AS Monaco have all reportedly shown interest in Zaha.
In what is anticipated to be his last significant move, the 30-year-old international from the Ivory Coast is reportedly seeking a considerable salary increase.
Ollie Watkins, a vital summer transfer target for Arsenal, is likely to agree to a new contract with Aston Villa, reports Football Insider.
Unai Emery views the 27-year-old, whose contract expires in 2025, as a crucial component of the team, and he is likely to be paid well over £100,000 per week.
Under Mikel Arteta, Arsenal wants to maintain their ambition and improve their team. According to writer Christian Falk through Caught Offside, the Gunners are reportedly interested in signing Wolfsburg full-back Ridle Baku for the upcoming campaign.
According to the writer, “Ridle Baku of Wolfsburg got the call from Arsenal,” Chelsea and Villarreal will be rivals for the North London club in the transfer market.
Arsenal are going back to the glory days. And so do their fans back to their padded seats. Arsenal tickets are rapid sellouts nowadays. Purchasing tickets from official retailers is only one of the viable options, and trusted reseller sites can help you source tickets.