Barney Ronay highlights the renewed title challenge of Arsenal and Saka, who bring a youthful energy and enthusiasm to the team.

Estimated read time 6 min read


The players of Arsenal did not show much celebration at the end of the match. However, it could be understood if Mikel Arteta’s team felt a bit unsettled by the odd nature of the Premier League game, which was akin to a haunted house.

Somehow, the team was able to enter halftime with a 4-0 lead, but they still appeared to be in need of a skilled center-forward (honestly, it should have been a higher score of seven or eight). The crowd at the stadium seemed to come and go, eventually disappearing completely and leaving behind numerous empty seats. The London Stadium may have been deemed an environmental disaster by the UN due to the vast amount of plastic littering the stands.

At the conclusion of the game, what stood out most was Arsenal’s vitality – although not top contenders for the title, they were still full of energy, warmth, and a clear desire to win. In contrast, West Ham’s contribution to their 6-0 loss at home can be summed up briefly: they simply did not have one.

Describing West Ham’s performance as wretched, dreadful, slack, and an abdication of professional responsibility may be tempting, as it encompassed all of those negative aspects. However, this would also give it some structure and identifiable flaws. In reality, it was more of a void, a distinct absence that could only be described as a hole in the shape of West Ham.

There were jerseys, hues, and shapes that were barely visible on the periphery, a game of football that was not being played in front of an empty audience. At moments, it seemed as though a group of unsettled delivery drivers might emerge and forcibly remove the West Ham players from the field, under the false impression that it was a demonstration against wasting energy and a stand for the “Just Stop Football” campaign.

David Moyes, whose contract is up for renewal, was deeply distressed by the sight before him. Throughout the game, he appeared devastated as he frequently rose from his seat on the sidelines. While playing defensively and giving the opponent possession can be effective, it requires energy, intensity, and a sense of intimidation.

However, there is another way to approach it, and West Ham’s lackluster performance will be thoroughly examined this week. The more positive aspect of this situation is Arsenal’s vigor and aggression, as the team appears revitalized and re-energized from their winter training break in the sun.

Before their trip to Dubai, Arsenal had suffered three consecutive losses and only managed to score five goals in seven games. However, after their break, they have now won four games in a row and scored a total of 16 goals. Bukayo Saka has contributed four goals and one assist in those four matches. He appears to have regained his previous form, with his familiar movements and skillful turns, but now executed with more accuracy and aggression. Anticipating his moves is one challenge, but stopping him is a whole other task.

Empty seats in the stands after West Ham fans leave early during Arsenal’s 6-0 win.

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The Arsenal team performed exceptionally well on set pieces, particularly with Declan Rice’s accurate passes leading to two goals. The first goal of the game was scored by William Saliba with a header. The players then gathered around the corner flag to celebrate together, with the energy of the team already building. It’s important to acknowledge these celebrations and understand the team’s mindset for this season, currently only two points behind the top spot but still considered underdogs in the competition. These celebrations may be misinterpreted, but they are a crucial aspect of this team’s dynamic.

To commemorate in traditional standards means to display vulnerability, arrogance, and self-satisfaction. Feelings must be directed. The dread of becoming hysterical or excessively passionate remains. During Victorian England, it was popular to hold up a board known as an “orange board” while consuming fruit in polite gatherings, out of fear that the sight and sounds of consuming fruit juices in a sensual manner could lead to the breakdown of society and the trembling of the social structure. It is possible that Arsenal could implement a celebration board for their players, to be passed around after a game, in order to control any displays of unmanly vulnerability.

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There is a clear reasoning behind Arsenal’s enthusiastic celebrations. A more pertinent question to ask is how they can construct a storyline that could lead them to potentially winning the league. When looking at the other teams in contention, Arsenal must surpass Manchester City, a team striving for greatness and armed with the exceptional talent of Erling Haaland, as well as a chance at ultimate victory. Liverpool also has their own narrative, with Jürgen Klopp’s late-stage energy, final moments, and home crowd fervor. This also presents itself as a cohesive tale, with connections to be made and the potential for a plausible champion.

What is the reason for Arsenal to come out on top? What is the strategy they will use to overcome their opponents? The key factors are energy, determination, and youth. While there are several strong components in place, other teams also possess strengths and Arsenal still lacks a bit of experience.

They must create a disturbance and be persistent, just as they were against Liverpool. They must also have more hunger, energy, and unity than their opponents. This is the most common way to win a league now. It is also the reason why Arsenal will rejoice and strive to create their own narrative, with a greater level of intensity.

It is a strategy, an atmosphere, an effort to craft a story of triumph. It may seem a bit awkward and contrived at times, similar to Kendall Roy confidently entering the takeover room without a tie and exclaiming, “Let’s get this party started!” It may ultimately fail. However, on the field, the team recreated that same sense of unity and drive, causing West Ham to resemble a mere shadow of their usual game.


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