It was a very massive win for coach Mikel Arteta Amatriain’s resurgent Gunners last night. Indeed, what made the victory such a huge confidence boost for our team was the manner in which it was achieved. It was not the typical nervy win designed in a smash and grab format. No, it was a calm, calculated, or even cold-blooded victory. It was clear at the end that Arsenal achieved this stupendous performance based on a well laid out pre-match tactical plan. The Molineux stadium is not a theatre in the park. Neither is it a picnic venue. It is in fact a death valley.
This of course is a universal reality that applies to not just the mighty Gunners but also to all other teams in the English premier league, regardless of their status. A cursory glance of the results that the Wolves have achieved at the Molineux stadium proves beyond any reasonable doubt that it has by now fully achieved a huge status as a favorite hunting ground for the marauding hungry Wolves. Further, a look at our previous visits to the Molineux stadium provides for some really grim, if not gruesome reading. It is very evident that during our most recent visits there, Arsenal has been very unconvincing in their performances. They have tended to be very meek and weak in their resistance.
They have actually looked more like silent lambs being thrown into a hungry pack of Wolves. This then explains why prior to the visit to the Molineux stadium last night, not many people could confidently predict an away win for the mighty Arsenal. Let alone, a convincing victory concomitant with a very rare away clean sheet. It was also not such a big surprise that all the respected pundits had written off the Gunners prior to the game. Not even one of them dared to give the mighty Arsenal a fighting chance. No, not even for a draw result! Most of them easily predicted a comfortable gory feast for the Wolves. I remember reading in particular the pre-match prediction from the English soccer legend Micheal Owen. In his pre-match analysis, Owen wrote off the Gunners. Added to that, he predicted a crushing 0-3 away defeat for them. Oh, how he must have been shocked by the result in the end! The very convincing away win by the mighty Arsenal certainly left Owen with a huge egg in his face! Indeed, make no mistake about it; it was not a fluke win for the Gunners The win comes after a series of three precious away wins on the bounce for the mighty Arsenal.
This is actually the first time since October 2018, that the mighty Arsenal has won four away games in a row But even more impressive; this is also the first time in almost 5 years that the Gunners have won in an away game against an opponent above them on the log standings The last time it happened was at the King Power stadium was an Alex Sanchez led Gunners tore apart Leicester city with a resounding 5-2 away victory on 26th September 2015. Be that as it may, it is imperative to emphasize that impressive as the away win was last night; there is regrettably, not enough time to bask in its glory The games are now flowing thick and fast! On Tuesday 7th July evening, the Gunners play host to a resurgent Leicester City.
The Foxes have had a very impressive season so far under the highly underrated Brendan Rogers. They have spent most of the year high up there permanently holed up on the third position. However, they have not been that convincing since the resumption of the competition after the enforced long break due to the COVID-19 related epidemiological restrictions. They have uncharacteristically lost a number of games that have left them hanging precariously on their initially assumed secure third place. To make matters worse for the Foxes, their surprisingly run of poor form has been juxtaposed to a rise in form from Manchester United and Chelsea. To all practical purposes and intents, it seems as if that it is actually the red-hot Red Devils who at the moment, pause a very dangerous threat to the Foxes holding on to their precious third place. However the Foxes are now expected to trot into the Emirates Stadium with their tails up, after a very much needed confidence-boosting 3-0 win over the fading Crystal Palace. As such, the mighty Arsenal must not rest on their laurels at all. They must expect a tough contest from a marauding pack of Foxes.
The cruel fixtures lists mean that as soon as the match against Leicester City is over, the Gunners will then immediately need to shift their focus to their next North London derby since a visit to Tottenham Hotspur beckons on Sunday 12th July evening. Mark my words, this is going to be one of the most fiercely contested North London derbies for a very long time. Both teams will be very desperate for the much needed three points since they are still in with a fighting chance for the hotly contested spaces in Europe next season. So please kindly expect some total drama to unfold at the North London derby this coming weekend. However, as soon as the North London derby is declared over, the Gunners face yet another daunting task since they have a mid-week clash against the newly crowned champions of England, Liverpool FC. The Reds are expected to give the mighty Arsenal yet another stern test if their credentials.
This is more especially when one takes note of the fact that apart from Manchester City, Liverpool are one of the teams that have consistently bullied the Gunners in the most recent seasons. The mighty Arsenal will certainly be itching for a revenge win over their much more fancied opponents who beat them 3-1 in the reverse fixture on 24th August 2019. There will still be no respite for the Gunners, since they are already booked for a semi-finals date with their much-feared nemesis, Manchester City on Saturday 18th July evening. Prior to the semi-finals draw, l was one of the Gooners who openly prayed for us to be drawn against Manchester United. I felt that of all the three teams pitted against us, Manchester City was by far our most difficult opponent. Then followed by Chelsea who has been very impressed in the last few weeks.
There is no doubt that Manchester United has been on the rise of late, but I still think of all the three teams, the Gunners could have fancied their chances most, against the Red Devils. But then as fate would have it, the mighty Arsenal now have to confront their worst possible English nightmare! In recent years, no team has easily bullied the Gunners as the Citizens. This season, they have already completed a very convincing league double over the mighty Arsenal Curiously, the confidence-sapping defeats happened at the start of the season and then also at the restart of the season after the long break enforced by the Coronavirus situation. The semi-finals clash this presents the Gunners with a much-needed opportunity for an act of sweet revenge Further, at a personal level Mikel Arteta will be hoping for his first career win over his life long friend and mentor Joseph Pep Guardiola Sala. The duo has a strong bond that dates back to their nascent years at the La Masia de Can Planes, the world acclaimed soccer academy for FC Barcelona. The good news is that the last time the two teams met in a semi-final clash of the same competition, it was the Gunners that upset the league form book and turned the tables against their much more fancied opponents. The mighty Arsenal beat Manchester City 2-1 on 23rd April 2017. This happened on their way to achieving their record-setting 13th FA cup win.
The Gunners beat Chelsea 2-1 to help the legendary and iconic Arsene Wenger lift his own record-setting 7th FA cup win on 27th May 2017. But whatever may happen during the next three games, what is now evident is that both Arteta and his players have now earned enough plaudits to convince every doubting Thomases that they are certainly on to something big. This season may be to a large extent, a write-off, but there is now no doubt that the prospects of a much more promising new season are so much higher. Arteta has done well enough to be given a solid benefit of doubt status. The good news is that he has already tied down the much promising duo of starlets Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli. Added to that, last week, four players signed up for new contracts; David Luiz, Pablo Mari, Cedric Soares, and Dani Ceballos. So it is now incumbent upon Arteta to use the summer transfer window to make some shrewd new signings and most importantly to resolve the now nagging conundrum with regards to the Gunners talismanic Captain Pierre Aubameyang. This will then leave all Gooners around the world with renewed hope that perhaps, just perhaps, the good old happy days are back again. Indeed, if Liverpool did it this season, why not us next season? Come on you Gunners!
Written by Daniel Molokele
Daniel Molokele is a Zimbabwean politician, human rights lawyer and civil society leader who has extensive experience working mostly across sub-Saharan Africa