The only problem with all the optimism at the Emirates right now is that, really, we’ve been here before. All the talk about being the best team in a given year is reminiscent of what happened in 2013.
There is that perpetual sense of the club self-correcting itself: never suffering the true kind of crisis that would bring them below fourth, but never enjoying the genuine evolution that would lift them to a proper challenge. For the latter to happen, there needs to deeper development of performance. The excellent recent run needs to be an indication of structural improvement, rather than just a streak.
That does seem the case, especially in the defensive side of the game. You only have to look at the drastic increase in tackles and – especially – interceptions, with the latter jumping from 14.3 to 20.3. That kind of aggression offered the platform for sleeker football. Things are looking encouraging – more so than usual.
So the stats show that Arsene Wenger has finally got around to making the Gunners harder to score against. Has he laid a foundation for a title challenge next season?