Move over, Liverpool, the Premier League has some new mentality monsters – Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal.
The league leaders have shown time and again this season that they have a title-winning mentality. No side in the division has picked up more points from losing positions (15) than Arteta’s Gunners.
In years gone by, particularly in the late Arsene Wenger era, there were questions of Arsenal’s fragility when it came to the crunch moments. This isn’t the first time that the club have been involved in a title tussle in the modern Emirates era, but on previous occasions they fell away.
We’ll have to wait and see whether they can make it over the line, but on more than one occasion in 2022-23, Arteta’s side have demonstrated the mentality of champions. Here are six occasions in which they’ve stepped up to the plate in difficult moments.
Arsenal turned on the style in the opening weeks of the campaign, scoring nine goals in successive victories against Crystal Palace, Leicester and Bournemouth.
Round four and the visit of surprise package Fulham was the first occasion they were required to show they had steel as well as silk.
Aleksandar Mitrovic put the visitors ahead in the opening stages of the second half, but captain Martin Odegaard equalised within 10 minutes – and in the 86th minute Gabriel Magalhaes converted a corner to turn things around.
Arsenal’s early-season winning run came to an end at Old Trafford with a 3-1 defeat at Manchester United.
Attention then turned to how they’d respond in the following match – a difficult trip to Brentford, where they’d lost 2-0 on their last visit.
The answer turned out to be a performance as impressive as the result was emphatic – a brilliant 3-0 victory. That was the start of a four-match winning run and 13-match unbeaten run in the league. Some response.
Arsenal had taken 22 points from the last 24 available prior to the World Cup break, but they returned to action with a relatively flat first-half performance at home to West Ham.
Jarrod Bowen gave the Hammers a deserved lead at half-time on Boxing Day, raising questions of whether the break had stunted Arsenal’s momentum – especially after key striker Gabriel Jesus suffered an injury in Qatar.
Each of the front three – Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Jesus’ deputy Eddie Nketiah – got on the scoresheet in the second half as Arsenal battled back to a 3-1 win that was relatively comfortable in the end. Nothing to worry about.
90th minute. Manchester United. Scores level. Eddie Nketiah. Scenes.
— Arsenal Buzz (@ArsenalBuzzCom) January 24, 2023
After the euphoria of their late winner against Manchester United, Arsenal went on to suffer a shock defeat at Everton and picked up just one point from three outings, a run that included a 3-1 home defeat to title chasers Manchester City.
That wobble was in danger of becoming a full-on slump when Arsenal visited Unai Emery’s Aston Villa in mid-February.
Goals from Ollie Watkins and Philippe Coutinho twice put Villa in the lead, but the Gunners blasted back – first through Bukayo Saka, then Oleksandr Zinchenko, and eventually – well into injury-time – January striker Jorginho struck a long-range effort that cannoned off the crossbar and went in off the back of former Arsenal ‘keeper Emiliano Martinez.
Arsenal got the job done any which way.
🔴⚪️ Jorginho injury time winner vs Aston Villa, look at the passion from The Arsenal 💯⚪️🔴 pic.twitter.com/M0g3bkoVAH
— GoonerNick (@nickvann1987__) February 19, 2023
Arsenal went behind after just nine seconds to the relegation-battling Cherries, who immediately had a lead to protect with a deep defensive display.
A second goal in the early stages of the second half gave Arsenal a mountain to climb, but they set about their task admirably. Thomas Partey got Arsenal back into the contest before big contributions from second-half substitutes Ben White and Reiss Nelson.
Nelson has made just three substitute appearances totalling fewer than 90 minutes in the Premier League this season, but he came up with a strike of the highest quality to put Arsenal ahead in the seventh minute of injury time.
“I always saw the potential, the talent and the desire for him to do it, but he’s at a different level right now,” Arteta told reporters.
“I think emotionally, the experiences that he had helped him. Football-wise, it was my decision in the last two games not to play him because we had other options.
“But he was knocking on the door, he’s been training really good and it’s a good lesson for me and for the coaches that we need him and that he can be really important for the team.”
Sounds about right. Written in the stars?