Arsenal are back in the hunt for UEFA Champions League qualification as the Gunners ground out a 1-0 win against West Ham on Saturday.
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Mikel Arteta’s men have lost just once in 10 Premier League games since he took charge and although they crashed out of the Europa League last week, they are through to the quarterfinals of the FA Cup and have a newfound grit, determination and a little bit more savvy about their play.
Teenagers are keeping established stars out of the team and there’s a new hunger about their play.
They’ve improved defensively and the game-winner on Saturday, Alexandre Lacazette, has scored three times in his last four games despite losing his starting spot.
Youngster Eddie Nketiah has started up top in recent weeks but the Frenchman is hungry to fight for his place and that attitude sums up this Arsenal squad right now.
“I’m happy to score for the team. We worked hard. It was a difficult game. I’m happy. They deserved more because of the chances they created. This is football, sometimes you don’t get what you deserve. It is my job to give the manager a big headache. I’m struggling to make the first team but I’m happy to score again today. I know that now I have to play well again the next game. Everyone wants to give their best and it’s normal that whenever we do that we will perform as a team,” Lacazette told the media afterwards.
Arsenal are five points off fourth place and have a game in hand, albeit at Man City on Wednesday, and with fifth place potentially becoming a Champions League spot this season it is a really interesting point in their campaign.
Despite their obvious defensive flaws Arsenal are keeping clean sheets and although West Ham coughed up plenty of chances on Saturday, Bernd Leno again made plenty of fine stops, while Dani Ceballos is running the show in midfield.
This Arsenal team have been written off by everyone this season and are somehow still in the hunt for the UCL. That makes me think there’s something more about them under Arteta than meets the eye. The Gunners are now a banged up and resilient bunch playing like underdogs instead of the top dogs, and how often have we able to say that over the last decade?
Despite their tough remaining schedule, beware of the Gunners down the stretcH.