It’s difficult to answer the question “is Arsenal good?” The people who are qualified to give an answer are likely to reply with “maybe” or “we need more data.” But what we do know is that their most famous and expensive players are scoring and assisting some utterly ridiculous goals at the moment.
Look at this!
This goal was part of a dominant performance from Mesut Özil in the Gunners’ 3-1 win over Leicester City. He scored his team’s equalizer, set up the go-ahead goal with slick through ball hockey assist, then set up this one with a gorgeous dummy and the eventual final pass.
Arsenal won its 10th consecutive game in all competitions on Monday despite having a bad defense that gives up a lot of chances. There’s no doubt that Arsenal has gotten very lucky during their run. But it’s very helpful to lucky while you’re trying to install a new system, get new players used to the Premier League and slowly phase out bad players that an old manager had too much faith in. It buys time to get things right, and it gives you a platform to build on if you ever do get good. If Arsenal is lucky during the first half of the season, actually good in the second half, it’s not like their first half is declared illegitimate. The points still count.
New manager Unai Emery appears to be making progress on getting Arsenal to be actually good instead of lucky. Their goals against Leicester were sensational, and after giving up a pretty soft opener, didn’t let the Foxes generate anything going forward. Mesut Özil and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyeng appear to be developing great chemistry and figuring out how to pick teams apart by playing fast. Lucas Torreira and Granit Xhaka are starting to play more and better early vertical balls to start attacks.
I don’t know if Arsenal is good. Neither do people who are a lot smarter than I am. But Arsenal is undoubtedly making progress at learning how to play the way Emery wants them to while scoring some great goals in the process. Bad individual defensive players might prevent the Gunners from competing for a trophy this year, but at least the team has stopped sliding backwards. For perhaps the first time since 2004, Arsenal is a team making progress.