The value of patience and persistence were much in evidence as two goals from Alexandre Lacazette fired Arsenal to a 4-0 win at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.
Even a month ago, Lacazette was out of form, out of the goals, and out the door at Arsenal as fans clamoured for the Frenchman’s exit amid a lengthy downturn in form that had seen him fade badly from the relatively productive early days of his career in north London.
To many, Laca’s malaise epitomised the wider slump that was crippling the Gunners on the pitch, making them unrecognisable from the team that used to cut a swathe through opposition. Scapegoats were needed and the Frenchman, along with two or three others, would have to pay the price.
Fast-forward three weeks and Laca is a man in form and firing, revitalised by the general change in attitude and ambition among the team, and thriving with the pace, movement, and craft of the young Gunners around him. From the top of the scrap heap, the former Lyon man now finds himself elevated to undroppable and out most in-form striker.
What a difference a little patience makes.
It must be particularly satisfying for Mikel Arteta, a man also on the cusp of disaster but for the patience of those above him. The former Gunner had one foot out the exit door after defeat to Manchester City in the Carabao Cup and now, three weeks on, his job is probably safe for the rest of the season. What a difference a few wins make.
And therein lies the lesson for all Gunners fans. Writing people off should never be done lightly. In our search for answers, we often resort to our most reductive and, in today’s footballing world, that means sackings or sales. Who could have guessed that, in so short a period of time, things could have improved so dramatically.
That’s not to say that our run of form leading up to that first crucial win over Chelsea was not appalling because it absolutely was, and many a manager would have paid for it with their job. With a little show of faith and patience, however, we have come through the other side and the project Arteta is attempting to build soldiers on, bruised but having learned a huge amount. Lessons that will serve him well in future.
And let this serve as a lesson for us fans too. This team will fail again, our players will go through dips in form, but none of it is forever. If the conditions are right, and they seem to be under Arteta, then better times do come back and form does improve.
From the clutches of a relegation battle, we now find ourselves in mid-table and, with a following wind, looking up at a possible tilt at the Europa League places. I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself because you’re only ever as good as your last game but this run of league wins has shown us that nothing is impossible with a little patience and persistence.