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Arsenal's August (and early September)

It may only be four games into Arsenal's season but it's already been an eventful start. Two London derbies and a dramatic encounter with Manchester United have shown good signs for Mikel Arteta as he looks to lead his side to their first Premier League title in 20 years.

August started as well as Arteta possibly could've hoped for. Despite being 1 - 0 down some ten minutes into stoppage time, the Gunners found a way to rescue penalties in the Community Shield against Manchester City through a deflected Leandro Trossard goal.

Manchester City have been an elusive opposition for Arsenal in the past few years, with Arteta beating Pep Guardiola just once in ten meetings before their encounter at Wembley last month.

So to beat the treble winners, albeit on penalties, was a fantastic way to start 2023/24. A trophy in the cabinet and as much momentum as any manager could ask for going into a league season.

Aaron Ramsdale said he felt Arsenal had passed a "mental block" by beating City, and it showed with their confident start to the Premier League season.

Gabriel Martinelli provided a world-class assist for Eddie Nketiah and Bukayo Saka scored an equally impressive goal in a 2 - 1 over Nottingham Forest, which was far more comfortable than the scoreline suggests.

The most important thing on the opening weekend of any season is to win and the Gunners did just that. The new additions to the squad showed promise, with Kai Havertz and Declan Rice helping to run an effective midfield.

Neither impressed as much as Premier League debutant Jurrien Timber though. Arsenal's new defender played both left back and centre back during the victory, but suffered a knee injury just before half-time. He tried to come back out for the second half, but couldn't continue.

The Dutchman is now out for the season, after two outstanding performances against City and Forest.

The ACL injuries are all too familiar at Arsenal, with Vivianne Miedema, Laura Weinroither, Leah Williamson and Teah Goldie all currently sidelined with the same injury for the women's team.

Timber's injury didn't dampen the Gunners' mood in their first away game of the season however, as they travelled across London to face Crystal Palace. Martin Odegaard scored a penalty to give Arteta's side a 1 - 0 win despite having to play most of the second half with ten men following a controversial red card for Takehiro Tomiyasu.

Arsenal were resolute, defending with six or seven at a time to see out an impressive victory. Palace are very difficult to play against at Selhurst Park but couldn't break down the Gunners' defensive wall. In fact, they didn't have a clear-cut chance to score at any point in the match.

Captain Odegaard dedicated the win to Timber, who was devastated to have lost an entire season so early in his Arsenal career.

The following weekend brought another London derby, with Fulham visiting the Emirates. Marco Silva's side were strong from the start, taking the lead in the first minute after an error from Bukayo Saka.

Arsenal hit back though. Saka converted a penalty after the break to make up for his earlier error, just two minutes before Eddie Nketiah fired the Gunners into the lead. Nketiah has been in fine early-season form, scoring twice and winning the decisive penalty at Selhurst Park.

The Gunners couldn't hold on to their lead however, as Paulinha converted a smart volley from a corner to rescue a point for Fulham, who ended the game with ten men after Calvin Bassey received a second yellow card.

Of course, it's never ideal to let a late lead slip, but Arsenal did show promise to come from behind to lead the game. Defending set pieces is an area that has been marked for improvement since before the start of last season and remains a rare weakness of this Arsenal side.

The comeback ability was in full force again going into September. Manchester United visited the Emirates for an early-season blockbuster, and with Erik Ten Hag under pressure, he would've delighted when he thought Alejandro Garnacho had won the game with an 89th-minute finish.

The game had been level for 88 of the 89 minutes, with just 35 seconds separating Marcus Rashford's opener and Martin Odegaard's equaliser. VAR spared the Gunner however, with Gabriel making an intuitive lunge away from goal to play Garnacho just offside.

Arsenal responded brilliantly. The games against United are usually dramatic, and this was no exception.

Declan Rice, who had single-handedly marshalled the midfield throughout the match, scrambled home a 97th-minute winner to send the Emirates into delirium.

Rice has been exceptional for the Gunners so far, proving he was worth a big money transfer in the Summer. He's had opportunities to play as both the six and the eight of Arsenal's midfield and hasn't let down in either position. In fact, he's been world-class in both.

No one was more deserving of the winning goal, but it wasn't the last laugh. To cap it all off, with the Red Devils pushing for a late equaliser, Fabio Vieira sent Gabriel Jesus through on goal, and the Brazilian danced past Diogo Dalot and rolled home a third for Arsenal.

Arsenal can't always rely on a very late winner, as was shown by some very impressive defending from Fulham. But no team scored more goals in the final 15 minutes of games last season than the Gunners. Arteta has drilled it into his team that they will keep fighting regardless of the situation.

Rob Holding's late goal at the Etihad last season shows this better than any late winner. 3 - 0 down with five minutes to go, most teams give up. Not Arsenal. Although the goal was inconsequential, it represents the team spirit of this young side.

With ten points from a possible 12, Arsenal do trail Manchester City by a couple of points, but it's been a very promising start. The draw with Fulham still showcased the comeback ability of the side, as did scoring the equaliser against Manchester United a minute after going behind.

There's a long way to go this season for all 20 clubs, Arsenal included, but few have shown the promise of Mikel Arteta's side in the first month of the new season.

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