Over the past few seasons, Arsenal fans had become accustomed to constant nervous tension and stomach anxiety while watching the Gunners play. It seemed as if no lead was secure and at any moment the defense would surrender a lead or a potential victory would become a draw or a defeat.
That anxiety has almost completely disappeared this season. Instead of a nagging dread that a one goal lead is never safe enough, there's a lot more confidence and belief that Arsenal will not only hold any lead they get, but will keep their opponent from finding the back of the net.
In the past, November was always a worrisome month for Arsenal. This year, November was nearly perfect for the Gunners. In six matches (including EPL and Champions League) Arsenal were 5-0-1 with five clean sheets. Their only blemish resulted in their only loss of the month. It was a Judas RVP header off of a corner that resulted in Arsenal's 1-0 loss to Manure at Old Trafford. It was a frustrating loss mostly because Arsenal are proving they are the better team. They pretty much allowed themselves to be beaten that day as if nerves got the better of the team. Regardless of that result, Arsenal outscored their opponents for the month 10-1.
In recent matches versus Southampton, Marseille and Cardiff Arsenal, dictated the contests and looked very comfortable with the lead. In the past no lead made me feel comfortable until the final whistle was blown. This year, I find myself relaxed and feeling confident while watching the Gunners. Despite holding a slim one goal lead for the bulk of this weekend's match at Cardiff, I never felt a sense of dread or anxiety coming on. I felt totally confident that Arsenal would not only keep their lead, but that they'd add to their goal tally. They did both and the match ended 0-3 to the visitors.
Arsenal begin December at the top of the table and in great shape. In looking at some of the Twitter comments from back in August, so many were calling for Wenger's head as Tottenham kept parading out all of their new shiny players purchased with their sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid. The new £100m "stars" included Paulinho, £17m from Corinthians, Christian Eriksen (Ajax £11.5m), Roberto Soldado (Valencia £26m), Nacer Chadli (FC Twente £6m), Etienne Capoue (Toulouse £8.6m), Vlad Chiriches (Steaua Bucharest £8.5m) and Erik Lamela (Roma £30m).
While Spuds were splashing the cash and bringing in new bodies, Wenger brought in the unknown Yaya Sanogo and Mathieu Flamini returned to Arsenal on a free transfer. Many greeted the return of Flamini with pure vitriol. The eventual signing of the amazing Mesut Ozil calmed the haters a bit, but many were lauding Tottenham's new signings as proof that Spuds were serious contenders and Wenger needed to be fired.
So flamini was what wenger was talking about #WENGEROUT!!!!!!!!!!!!
when he sed he was going to sign quality players . This man needs help
— Sir Ife Omisesan (@ifedrizzO) August 29, 2013
I'm sorry but I had to make this collage, what a blinder #coys #foyg http://t.co/F7OsAHu4Rd pic.twitter.com/eUst1WtgvU
— Jack Hotspur (@JackoHennessy) August 30, 2013
You goons need to hush. You've signed Sonago? Big deal, we've signed Chadli, Paulinho, Soldado, Capoue, Willian & maybe Lamela. #FOYG #COYS
— Jack Bell (@JackN17) August 21, 2013
In AVB we trust. In Arsene they rust. Loving the #WengerOut tweets even though I'm obviously #WengerIn #COYS #FOYGEven the media got in on the Spuds kissing and Arsenal bashing such as this little gem from Darren Lewis at the Mirror:
— Stuart Gibson (@SVLGibson) August 15, 2013
Tottenham transfer report: Arsenal's late Mesut Ozil signing won't knock Spurs' top-four ambitions following magnificent summer
Four months later and it's AVB who is in the hot seat and the new Tottenham signings are being labeled as flops.
Villas-Boas can't fool Spurs fans - his signings have flopped... Celtic's zonal marking is nothing like Rafa's
Tottenham's Andre Villas-Boas will be sacked in a month unless results improve Manager's position is under review with Spurs' owner understood to be unhappy on return from £100m-plus summer spending spree
But, enough about Spuds and their problems.
Arsenal have come through the first third of the season in good shape. Theo Walcott has just come back from injury and will soon be followed by Lukas Podolski and the Ox. Additionally, the January transfer window is now not too far off. Arsenal's current standings and their likely advancement in to the knockout stages of the Champions League should help attract the additional talent that Arsenal need to shore up their squad.
As the Spuds' example shows, no club can afford to assume that bodies and massive spending are all that's necessary to secure success. It's proving it on the pitch that is what really matters and so far, Arsenal are calming their fans' nerves and stomachs while proving a lot of doubters wrong thus far.