Arsenal can take heart from loss against Man United: 5 positives to take away
Normally, a 3-1 home loss to a top rival would bring doom and gloom over Arsenal, with shouts for Arsene Wenger to be fired and the squad to be revamped.
But Saturday's defeat to Manchester United has been largely met with a positive reaction from the fanbase, even though it showcased both the best and worst sides of this Gunners side.
But while their best side -- wonderful attacking football -- wasn't good enough to make up for their worst -- gifting United two goals in the opening 11 minutes -- perhaps there is reason to look on the bright side. Here are five positive take-aways from Saturday's loss:
Lacazette is a man for the big occasion
If there was any doubt, Alexandre Lacazette showed that he is indeed the striker that Arsenal have been lacking for years. Having shrugged off a groin problem that was supposed to rule him out of the game, Lacazette was Arsenal's best player against United and nearly dragged them back in the game single-handedly.
He was unlucky not score in the first half when his deflected shot bounced off the crossbar, showed great composure to pull one back just after the break and was only denied an equaliser by a brilliant save from David De Gea.
The French striker was clearly eager to prove his worth after being benched at Liverpool and Man City, and Wenger will surely never make that mistake again. Lacazette is a man for the big occasion, and that will make the entire team a different beast in games against the top six.
Ozil shows commitment
There had been much speculation about Mesut Ozil's level of commitment going up against the team he has been widely reported to be joining next summer. But the German certainly didn't play like a man with split loyalties.
Ozil was at the heart of Arsenal's attack for the full 90 minutes and put in another performance that had both silky skill and grit. It was a big contrast to Alexis Sanchez's performance against Manchester City, and offered further proof that Ozil will give his all until the final day of his contract.
The playmaker has been in fantastic form over the last month and Arsenal will be a handful for anyone as long as he's at his best.
The back four still works
Perhaps one shouldn't make too much of the way Arsenal dominated possession and laid siege to United's goal for much of the game. After going 2-0 up in 11 minutes, Jose Mourinho's side was only ever going to be interested in defending their lead. But it was noteworthy that the home side really found their rhythm after Shkodran Mustafi went off injured and Wenger switched to his traditional back-four formation.
The Frenchman has stuck to three at the back all season, only switching to the more attack-minded system when trailing in games. But from the 12th minute on, this was the type of football Wenger really wants to see from his team and perhaps he'll be tempted to revert to his old ways from now on.
The Premier League title race seems over for Arsenal, but the beautiful football might be making a return.
A fully fit squad
Time to knock on wood, perhaps, but Arsenal finally seem to have shaken off the injury bug. Aside from long-term absentee Santi Cazorla, Wenger had a fully fit squad to choose from against United and that will be a massive benefit heading into the busy holiday period.
Lacazette's recovery from his groin problem was obviously a big boost, and Wenger now has so many attacking options that Theo Walcott couldn't even get a seat on the bench. It remains to be seen whether Mustafi will miss any games, but it's hard to remember a time when the Gunners had so few injury concerns going into December.
Wenger's Premier League starters are well rested after sitting out the Europa League and Carabao Cup games so far, and the lack of Champions League football has clearly had a positive effect on their health. This is the time of year when that could really pay off on the pitch.
Fans are behind the team
When Jese Lingard doubled United's lead after yet another sloppy mistake from the Gunners, one expected the atmosphere at the Emirates to turn ugly. Instead, the crowd rallied behind the team and remained united behind them until the final whistle. It was a pleasant change from the angry mood that often gripped the stadium last season, when the "Wenger out" movement was in full force.
There is no doubt that this is turning out to be another disappointing season for the Gunners, but a united fan base could be a big help in getting the best out of the team for the remainder of the campaign.
Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.