• By Charlie Stong

Exciting times up (red and white) North London


If we had been offered four points from the games against Spurs and Manchester United at the start of this footballing week then probably most of us would have taken that – I have said since August that for me at least, this season is just about seeing some progress.

But the fact that I'm feeling a tinge of disappointment today is a reflection of both the giant leaps Unai Emery has made since taking over from Arsene - and the fact that since I first took an interest in the game aged seven in 1986 I cannot remember a poorer Manchester United side than the one we faced last night.

Even the early Fergie sides which didn't win anything - the sides of McClair, Hughes, Blackmore, et all were better than this mob - far better. Even David Moyes’ lot fought a bit harder.

But what prevented us taking the three points away from Old Trafford last night was our continued inability to defend properly. That we conceded so soon after scoring on not one but two occasions last night is a worry - the defenders need to get mentally tougher, switched on more quickly after restarts and, to be honest, the boss probably needs to buy some better ones in the windows to come.

Let's hope that the impending return of Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal shore up some of the gaps, especially given some of the worrying reports over Rob Holding today which suggest he could be out for a long time. It’s sad for Holding, he has not set the world alight since his arrival at the Emirates but has improved immeasurably this season and is clearly someone the boss rates highly.

But enough of the doom and gloom - we're now 20 games unbeaten, despite the ref doing his best to break that record by turning four added-on minutes at OT into seven - as is customary up there, of course.

I said after the win against Vorskla last Thursday that if 18 unbeaten games became 20 then we had the right to get excited, and I can honestly say that for the first time in a few years I am now enjoying watching the Arsenal. I’m counting down the days until the next game again. Under Arsene we played some great stuff, magical stuff, the best stuff in the history of the club even - but only up until about three years ago, when not only the results but the performances started to wane.

Now we're exciting again. But just as exciting as the exciting is the gritty, the never-say-die spirit, the will to win and the willingness to fight - almost literally on Sunday - for our mates. This is what Arsenal are all about, and if Tony Adams sitting in the BT Sport studio last night didn't like the defending on display, he would have loved the character this team are showing.

Four points from Spurs and United represents progress. And that is all I have wanted to see this season. If Champions League football and, who knows, maybe even a cup competition success follow, then fantastic, but all I wanted at the start of the season was to see the seeds of the green shoots of recovery. We've seen that in abundance this season already.

We've now got a run of league games which, on paper, are more than winnable.

Huddersfield, Southampton, Burnley and Brighton are our next four. A decent return from those games should cement ourselves into the top four - particularly after Chelsea's most welcome defeat at Wolves last night and the fact they face Champions Manchester City on Saturday.

Up the Arse.

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