Steve Bould believes Arsenal are building a head of steam
Arsenal’s 2-1 Champions League win at Montpellier on Tuesday was another sign the club is building momentum this season, and it could not have come at a better time with Premier League champions Manchester City up next.
Pundits expected a struggling start to the season for the North London club after they lost top scorer Robin van Persie to Manchester United but Arsenal have really hit their stride in the last couple of weeks.
After a couple of goalless draws to open their campaign, Arsenal beat Liverpool 2-0 at Anfield, thrashed Southampton 6-1 at home and then enjoyed a fine start to their 15th consecutive Champions League campaign.
“We have had a decent start to the season and we have kept the run going, and that is important all round, for the whole season,” assistant coach Steve Bould said in Montpellier.
“We have got great team spirit and I think that was evident tonight. Everybody is digging in and things are looking okay.”
Arsenal displayed their familiar attacking flair in the first half at Montpellier, then focused successfully on their defensive efforts when the Ligue 1 champions, roared on by a passionate crowd, mounted a fightback.
The Gunners, who have conceded just two goals in five games so far this season, managed to preserve their lead with authority, leaving Montpellier with only a couple of chances to equalise.
Midfielder Abou Diaby said the manner of their victory after going a goal down to an early penalty was a boost ahead of Sunday’s trip to Manchester.
“It is important to start the Champions League with a victory but it is also for everything that comes next,” he said. “It gives us more confidence.”
City should, however, be a harder trip for Arsenal, who failed to get going in the title race last year and ended up 19 points behind the two Manchester clubs in third place.
“Of course Sunday is a tough test,” Bould said. “We go in there with a bit of confidence, with everybody believing things are going okay. But it is a proper test and that is what we want to do. Hopefully we can come through the other side and say we have done okay again on Sunday. Everybody is fine, touch wood. Things are looking quite bright.”
German centre-back Per Mertesacker – part of a rearguard which has only been breached twice this season – also sees no reason why Arsenal cannot head to the Etihad Stadium in a confident mindset. “We are convinced that we can stay in the league, at the top, and that’s our target for Sunday,” he said. “Last year we lost at Man City. It was a very tight game so we will try to do better this time.”
Mertesacker added: “I feel like we are in a better shape than last year, because we are now in a good shape from the beginning [of the season]. I think we are well prepared now.”
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