Confidence is everything when it comes to paying football — that is considered a universal given. So, it should augur well for Arsenal when they go to face a tough test against Manchester United at Old Trafford in the Premier League on Wednesday night.
Because, let’s face it, if they are not brimming with self-esteem following their momentous victory over deadly North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, they are never going to be. It’s that simple.
The Gunners came from 2-1 down at the break to see off Spurs with a 4-2 victory in the top flight at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday, a win that saw them jump above their neighbours into fourth spot on goal difference.
Jose Mourinho’s unsettled side are not in the best form but overcoming the Red Devils at home has never been an easy task — and so Unai Emery’s men will need all of the confidence and self-belief they can muster for the challenge ahead at the Theatre of Dreams.
And Spanish coach Emery will be quick to harness the positivity surrounding his squad at the moment. He has revealed that he knows full well just how crucial it is, referring to his own playing days to illustrate its importance.
He told Arsenal’s official website:
“I know how you can feel playing under pressure. When I was a player, I played a lot of games with this pressure individually and collectively. I know when the players can feel like me in this moment.
“That’s why it’s first for me to give them confidence, which you cannot buy in the supermarket! You need to create it every day in the conversations and between us. You find that confidence by working a lot every day and being together, doing positive things, speaking, training, playing.
“That’s most important — how you can break that pressure is with confidence. It’s one way to improve, when the players can block these negative pressures.”
Meanwhile, debate continues about the omission of Mesut Ozil from the win over Spurs, with some pundits suggesting there has been some kind of rift between the coach and the German playmaker, who also missed the Europa League journey to Kiev to play Vorskla Poltava.
But Emery says that Ozil was missing purely because he was injured, adding:
“I said on Sunday that he’s had backache since last Tuesday. He couldn’t play in Kiev or on Sunday.
“At the moment, I don’t know if he can play in Manchester. He is working alone, I don’t know if he’s OK for Wednesday.”
One player who won’t be available, confidence or otherwise, is Granit Xhaka, who misses the trip to Manchester because of picking up his fifth domestic booking and having to serve a one-match suspension. That probably means that either young French midfielder Mattéo Guendouzi or Wales ace Aaron Ramsey coming into the team. The latter will hope that his dazzling second-half display against Tottenham gives him the edge when it comes to be selected.