When last season ended you didn’t expect to beat Liverpool at Anfield during the 2019/20 season. When you saw that the trip would be week three of the season, knowing Arsenal was dealing with injuries and acclimating new players, you weren’t predicting a win. Even after a positive opening two weeks to start the season and Liverpool letting in goals, an away draw would have been about as much as the most optimistic fan could have hoped for.
This wasn’t a match Arsenal were expected to win. It wasn’t the three points, or even one, that the club needed to help lift them into the top four over the course of the season. Those results are the losses and draws to teams battling relegation from last season.
Yes, there were mistakes. David Luiz had a terrible day at Anfield. Nicolas Pepe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang both should have put away their chances. Unai Emery probably should have adjusted tactics after going down 2-0. But it’s over, and leaving the result in the past is critical not only for the season, but especially with the next match up.
The North London Derby
It’s a bit disappointing that one of the two derby matches is this early in the season. Even more so when you consider that Hector Bellerin, Kieran Tierney, and Rob Holding aren’t fit yet. Or that Nicolas Pepe isn’t fully up to speed in the Premier League. And it’s the home version of the NLD.
But what it does offer is the perfect chance to move past the Liverpool defeat and create early distance between the two clubs in the table. After Sunday’s loss to Newcastle, Tottenham sit 7th in the table on four points. Yes, that’s the same Newcastle side Arsenal beat with a lot of backups starting. Yes, Arsenal beat them on the road, while Tottenham lost to the 19th place team at home.
A win at home on Sunday would put Arsenal five points clear of Spurs just four weeks into the season. True, form and most story lines step to the side for a derby match, but Arsenal know the importance of this particular match up following the trip to Liverpool.
The Start of Something Great
After the Tottenham match the Premier League pauses for an international break. Arsenal return Sunday September 15th away at Watford. But the schedule ahead sets up nicely for the Gunners to build momentum - much like last year’s unbeaten run. Take a look at the following three months after the Spurs match:
- Europa League (Match 2)
- Bournemouth (H)
- Sheffield United (A)
- Europa League (Match 3)
- Crystal Palace (H)
- Carabao Cup (4th Round)
There are only three or four matches out of those 16 that look noticeably difficult. The Europe League draw may change that perspective, but Arsenal should be able to navigate the next three months racking up points, getting back to full fitness and starting to see the full value of this past summer’s signings.
Last Saturday wasn’t fun, but the next three months could be quite enjoyable. It all starts with a strong performance at home in the North London Derby.