Why Twenty-One Is An Important Number for Arsenal
The number twenty-one figures heavily in my thoughts at the moment. Firstly it is of course 2021 and we’re heading for the 2021/22 season in less than three weeks. Our first two signings this summer who are of course Nuno Tavares and Albert Sambi Lakonga are both twenty-one. This gives me more confidence in the squad rebuild we’re going through, we’re buying hugely talented players before they are too expensive for us to sign in the future, we’re giving our best youngsters in Saka and ‘The Smith’ the number 7 and 10 shirts respectively. This is significant in such an exciting way for the team. However, the most important reason for me at the moment that the number twenty-one is so big in my mind, is that I firmly believe that after the first ten games of the coming season, we simply have to get to that points total. Here’s where my logic comes from.
Last season was really bad up until Christmas, it was also a bad start for City and Utd if you remember. We were all languishing down the table and after the first ten games, Arsenal sat on 13 points, our worst start since dinosaurs roamed around Staffordshire. The top 6 were: (look away now if you’re of a nervous disposition)
- Sp*rs 21 pts
- Liverpool 21 pts
- Chelsea 19 pts
- Leicester 18 pts
- West Ham 17 pts
- South’ton 17 pts
Now one thing to bear in mind is that these sorts of numbers are unusual. None of us will be surprised if any one of City, Utd, Chelsea or Liverpool wins their first ten games of the season this time around. Fans are back in the grounds (as it stands) and teams have had much more of a pre-season this time around. Mikel Arteta has now, for the first time, had the pre-season he’s craved. He’s 18 months into the job, he’s getting his own squad together for the first time with all the players who’ve left and all the signings he’s made as well as the players he’s promoted from the academy.
We’ve not got any European Football (for the first time since those dinosaurs were wiped off the face of the earth by meteorites), so we only have to concentrate on getting European football back next season. Nothing else will be good enough for the club, the fans, the players and Arteta himself. We simply have to stay on the leader’s coat tails through the season and that means a strong start.
The reason I came up with the twenty-one points was two fold, the leaders of the table at that stage last season (taking into consideration the poor start by many teams) and secondly our fixtures. We can’t make excuses for dropping points against teams like Brighton, Palace, Burnley, Norwich, Brentford and nor should we. We shouldn’t have the simple resignation of zero points vs City and
Chelsea in the second and third games of the season, but my points target allows us to lose 3 games, I think I’m being a bit generous there. Amongst the ten games, (and you may well have noticed I haven’t mentioned these as yet), are Villa, Leicester and the North London Derby. Now these three, in my opinion, are the biggest test if you like. Teams who think they either have, or are about to usurp us from the top six permanently.
Villa, the rich club with a rich history who are buying wisely and who had the bare faced cheek to not only make one humiliating offer, but two humiliating offers for our star academy graduate, our new number ten, our own Emile Smith-Rowe. I don’t bear them any grudges for doing that, it shows their commitment to improvement and that they are certainly able to spot great talent. They also see us as ripe to take over in the league. We all know about Leicester.
They are probably the best run club in the league with the best owners (discounting Oil barons and States!). They’ve consistently out performed us over the last five years since winning the league. Then we get to Those lot from Middlesex down the road. They’ve got yet another Manager in charge, but this time he’s a decent one who will soon have over £100m to spend on strengthening his first eleven.
Once again, I reiterate, we only have the league to concentrate on this season. Every single Premier league game has to be played with an intensity similar to a cup final for Arteta. He’s under a lot of pressure with having a week between games to get it right. Anything less than the twenty-one points and we’ll already have a big gap to make up after the first ten games. I’m excited, hopeful and full of dread all at once because I really want Arteta to succeed more than anything and lead us back into the top four. Will he do it? The first ten games will probably go a long way to telling us whether he can.