By Jacob Ambrose Willson @jacobaw_1994
In recent weeks Arsenal have grabbed the baton of early season form from initial pace setters Manchester City, with this metaphorical handover being displayed no more evidently in both clubs opposing fortunes in their Champions League match day three results.
In fairness to the Manchester Club there was a huge gulf in class between their opponents and Arsenal’s. City travelled to the five times European Cup winners Barcelona who welcomed back Lionel Messi to their starting 11 which already included the likes of Suarez, Neymar and Iniesta, whilst Arsenal welcomed the lesser known Bulgarian side Ludogorets to the Emirates.
However, the North London side were in no mood for mercy on the minnows and produced a scintillating performance firing in six goals to no reply, with the normally goal shy Mesut Ozil plundering home a second half hat trick. This near perfect performance, on the back of five straight league wins has left many Arsenal fans dreaming of real silverware.
At the same time over in Spain, Pep Guardiola’s second return to the Nou Camp as an opposing manager went just as bad as the first, if not worse. In May 2015, His Bayern side were taken apart by the brilliance of Neymar and Messi, but this time, the latter went one more and grabbed a hat trick albeit against a City side down to ten men after Bravo’s peculiar red card.
Whilst it would be foolish to ignore the yawning gap in quality between Ludogorets and Barcelona, these results are rather telling of the inverse correlation between Arsenal and Manchester City’s recent fortunes. City have not won in four matches and are facing a ‘mini-crisis’, having won ten straight matches in all competitions prior.
Oddly enough as if the two clubs fortunes are tied to each other, at the beginning of City’s dominant early period, Arsenal found themselves in near-disarray, going down 4-3 at home on the opening day to Liverpool, not winning until match day three of the Premier League, and also struggling in their opening Champions League match, nicking a draw away to PSG.
So, it may seem as if Manchester City have already peaked, and Arsenal are in the ascendancy, but fans of both sides must remember that form is temporary. City will undoubtedly drag themselves out of this rut, as they are filled with quality in every position. At the same time, Arsenal current imperious form will not last, and is rather reminiscent of last season’s autumnal excellence, which eventually petered out in the New Year.
Therefore, my message to fans of both teams is this – Don’t draw conclusions now, it is only October! Arsenal and Manchester City arguably possess the highest quality squads in the league, yet what will define their seasons is their response to adversity. Injuries, suspensions and loss of form will invariably occur between now and May, but it will be the team who copes best with this that will achieve tangible success.
Finally, lets not forget the intense challenges that these two will face from the likes of a concrete-solid Tottenham side, a Klopp-inspired Liverpool, a Manchester United that should click into gear at some point, and an unpredictable Chelsea team. What a season this is going to be.