On Sunday, Arsenal took a massive step in its attempt to qualify for next season’s Champions League, with a 2-0 away win over Manchester City. After handing City its first loss since October, the Gunners are currently fifth in the Premier League, only one point behind Manchester United. Arsenal was an underdog heading into the game, having not beaten a top-four team in an away league game in over three years. For manager Arsene Wenger, the win was important for his team’s confidence moving forward. “We were well-disciplined, well-organized, had a good solidarity and overall we kept a good control of the game,” Wenger said. “What is pleasing is that [it] reinforces the belief of the team. To feel that you can do well is very important.” Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey agreed with his manager. “We have got a lot to play for this year so hopefully now we can build on this performance and that will give us even more confidence going into the business end of the season,” Ramsey said. “We will just have to concentrate on our own game and hopefully go on a big run and see where that takes us at the end…We are a team that can always create opportunities to score so the important thing is to defend as a team and stop them from scoring because we are always going to get opportunities to score…So if we can keep a clean sheet like we did yesterday, we are always going to have a chance to win.”
As a player, you are probably aware that your confidence can often play a huge role in whether you actually perform well on a given day. As Wenger noted, “To feel that you can do well is very important.” When you do feel confident, it might be the case that you take more chances, you play well, and you tend to enjoy yourself more. However, when your confidence is low, things can often become more challenging. You may feel hesitant, unsure, or fearful, and this can often lead to shaky performances and mistakes. Ultimately however, confidence is a choice. This is why it is so important to rely on your past success as a player. Whenever you step onto the field to perform, make the choice to be confident in what you are capable of doing, by recognizing what you have done well in the past. If you are a striker, remember a game when you scored, or a time when almost every shot you hit was on target. If you are a goalkeeper, think about the time you made the save that won your team the game. Look for small achievements in your past performances – a win, a goal, a strong tackle, or a great cross – and allow each one to reinforce your belief in what you know you do well. Allow each success to help you build confidence in your strengths and your ability to perform well when it matters. By acknowledging these strengths, you can also begin to focus more on what you can control whenever you play (i.e., Arsenal’s ability to create scoring opportunities). Ultimately, confidence is about doing the things you know how to do so that you can give yourself “a chance” to be successful. Heading into the second half of the league season, it will be important for Arsenal’s players to rely on their own past success (including their most recent win) to maintain their individual and collective confidence in each game.
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