Positivity key for spirited and consistent Arsenal

Posted by John Cross

The negativity among some Arsenal fans is overwhelming.

Arsenal's start to the Premier League campaign has been so impressive that maybe supporters just expected to brush Everton aside at the Emirates on Sunday and go seven points clear.

But it was never going to be that easy, and a five-point gap at the top of the table, following a 1-1 draw with the Toffees, is a pretty comfortable cushion to be sitting on at this stage of the season.

- Delaney: Three Things -- Arsenal vs. Everton
- Mangan: A point well-earned, not two dropped

The problem for Arsenal, as we keep saying, is the fixture list ahead: the trips to Napoli on Wednesday and to Manchester City on Saturday, followed by a home game versus Chelsea, although manager Arsene Wenger's side has a nine-day break before that game.

We will soon see Arsenal's season in a different perspective. This is a major test, but three big results and Wenger can feed off that confidence again.

It's rather like the most recent big examination of the Gunners -- Liverpool, Borussia Dortmund away and then Manchester United in quick succession. Two wins and a defeat didn't seem so bad, even if Arsenal felt as if they didn't do themselves justice at Old Trafford.

Tiredness and a bug crept in. They didn't compete. Also, the world and his wife seem to be able to win at Old Trafford these days, so that defeat seems all the more disappointing.

But this is a time when Arsenal should be seizing more positives than an Owen Coyle postmatch interview. They are the only team that has shown consistency this season. The rest have been shooting themselves in the foot.

Chelsea are weak defensively and unpredictable, Manchester United are in transition, Manchester City's away form is poor, and even Liverpool lost at Hull City.

Arsenal just keep on grinding out these results. They rested players and beat Hull, they were below-par against Everton yet still got a point, and they are admirably resilient.

That's why it is important not to let the negativity creep in. Arsenal extended their lead against Everton; they didn't suffer a bad result.

Don't let the complaints about the fixture list give the players an excuse and a reason to lose games. Players do often do that. They see a manager send a negative message and let their heads drop.

Putting this season in perspective is vital. Five points clear, and neither City nor Chelsea will want to play Arsenal.

Then in the Champions League, only a major upset will knock them out of their group of death. It would be some feat to get through in a group featuring Napoli, Borussia Dortmund and Marseille.

They can lose and still go through, as long as Napoli don't beat them 3-0. A draw is enough to win the section. It's a remarkable achievement for Wenger.

Arsenal do look tired and jaded. You could see that in Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey against Everton. But to win trophies, as Arsenal must this season, you need to push yourself through barriers.

The FA Cup third-round draw against Tottenham is another unwanted obstacle. But Arsenal's best qualities this season have been spirit and consistency.

They showed both, believe it or not, against Everton, and will need even more in the next week or so. But they've had it in abundance this season.


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