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Friday Cannon Fodder: grit & pash-un

Arsenal v Crystal Palace - Premier League Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

Here at TSF, we often make light of pundits and commentators who simplify duels on the football field or even entire results down to one team “playing harder” or “wanting it more” than their opponents. That’s not what happens. All players play hard. Both teams want to win. The overwhelming majority of what differentiates two clubs on any given day is quantifiable. Beyond that, there is a little bit of luck. There’s not much room left over for anything else.

But Arsenal could do with that tiny sliver of that something else right now. The club is in a tough spot with injuries and a tricky run-in. The Gunners could use a bit of that extra verve, that something special. The stars being stars. Or an role-player deciding it’s his time to shine. It doesn’t have to be the same guy each match, but guys have to start stepping up.

Stepping up can mean different things. It could be Granit Xhaka flexing his leadership muscles and pulling his teammates along with him. It could be Aaron Ramsdale refusing to concede, standing on his head to make saves. It could be Bukayo Saka deciding, “you know what, I’m scoring and the other team isn’t going to stop me from doing it.” It could be Sambi Lokonga seizing his chance to show everyone what he can do.

Great players and great teams find a way to win. The flu game. Lebron coming out of nowhere to make that block. Tom Brady coming back from down 28-3 against the Falcons. Manchester United somehow always finding a way to score during Fergie Time. They make it happen, by hook or by crook.

I’ve said all season that there is something happening at the club this year. Arsenal would do well to find that special sauce. They also still need to play solid, organized football, follow Mikel Arteta’s tactics, and do all the normal things they’re supposed to do. But it feels like they need just a bit extra to see this one out. I hope they’ve got it!