I never thought I'd see the day where I would be watching Leicester City through envious eyes, I mean that would be madness right? A team fighting for survival last season are now achieving all the things I want Arsenal FC to be achieving right now. An empty treatment room, wonderful unity between their supporters and club and a team brimming with self belief. All those ingredients combined are why Claudio Ranieri's men are sitting five points clear at the top of the league after a convincing 3-1 away victory to Manchester City.
I'm not sure I buy the Arsenal have no bottle narrative, at least not at this stage. I think there are other factors in play as to why we have dropped crucial points in the last few weeks.
Momentum for me is the biggest factor. On match of the day last night they said that Leicester City have used the least amount of players this season in the entire league and it shows. That team have a great understanding of each other and have grown in confidence collectively. Compare that with Arsenal and our midfield base has been broken up and replaced by a pair that do not compliment each other very well, Alexis has just come back into the team and needs games, Coquelin has only had 70 odd minutes whilst the likes of Walcott and Chamberlain have been off colour.
Think back to the October Arsenal team that blew Manchester United out of the water within 19 minutes, that team had a run of games without much disruption, they had found the momentum needed to produce.
It is that momentum and belief that I am desperately hoping we find and find it soon. Forget soon, we need to find a chunk of it today because we are falling away as those around us are picking up points.
So this afternoon we head off to AFC Bournemouth in search of three points and probably just as important, some much needed confidence. I think we will get back to scoring some goals, in fact both teams to score tips would be a pretty decent bet as they are a pretty attacking team.
You know what I'd like to see today? Some good old fashioned aggression. Not the Tony Pulis 'he's not that kind of lad' type aggression but the 'don't let them look up and find a team mate easily' type of aggression. I mentioned this after the Southampton draw but we are too tentative at the start of games. Almost like we are dipping our toe in the water, cautiously waiting to find out what the temperature is like. A little keep ball here, a little bit backing off there. Scrap that, let's dive bomb into the bath, holding our knees as we splash. Force the issue from the first whistle and take some risks. Let's stop giving the opposition so much respect. Yeah, I'm pumped now.
The next couple of games are kinda last chance saloon stuff, even then our last chance includes doing what Leicester City have just done but in more than one difficult away ground. What I would say is that for us to get those wins we need to kick start the chain of belief and what better way than to come flying like crazy people out of the blocks. Alexis is hopefully a few training sessions sharper. Francis Coquelin should be recovered and ready to replace Mathieu Flamini. It will be another new midfield partnership with Ramsey and that in itself is somewhat of a gamble but I'd almost prefer rolling the dice and whatever number comes up, placing that player in midfield instead of using the tried and somewhat under performing combination of Flamsey. No offence to either of those boys but it seems clear as day that it's hurting the team.
Who knows, this could be the birth of Coqsey or Ramquelin. Oh dear, I apologise about that but everyone does that these days don't they?
Mean Lean's Predicted Line Up:
The only real question is that of Joel Campbell. He wasn't anywhere near his best on Tuesday (not many where I know) and I get the feeling that a few average or less than average displays from him and Arsène may be willing to change him when perhaps he would stick a while longer with someone else. Maybe I'm wrong on that. Perhaps the lack of goals is a concern to the manager and he will want to keep Walcott on the pitch for his added threat and yes I know it is only just a threat in recent weeks rather than actual end product.
So what of AFC Bournemouth's form at the Vitality Stadium? Seems a little patchy. The last time they played in front of their own fans they beat Norwich 3-0 but four days before that they lost 1-3 to West Ham at home. The home match before the 0-0 draw with Crystal Palace they had beaten Manchester United by 2-1 so it is unlikely to be a walk in the park.
I had almost forgotten about Benik Afobe and all that comes with that. I really hope I don't get to have to read or listen post match about Arsenal fans getting angry because a) he celebrated his goal or b) how annoying it was that he didn't celebrate his goal. So it's better for all concerned (myself mainly) that he just doesn't score at all. Three goals in four starts is a pretty good way to start your career at a new club. Three goals in five is still good by the way Benik, ok?
*Blah blah blah something about must win blah blah etc*
So yeah, that's about it really. Let's score some actual goals instead of missing and let's stop them from scoring. Preferably by playing well and let's put the past 4 league games behind us.
Come on you Gunners