In an age of hyperbole, even more so with social media making everything in this world of needed ‘ASAP’, it’s quite often important not to go too overboard when making statements in an online forum. So when I begin my blog today with the statement “this could be a defining period for our season”, I do not take my words lightly.
I really do think the next five games will determine how our season progresses, whether that’s as a team playing catch up for the Champions League spots, or a genuine title and cup contender.
That’s what Theo has been quoted as saying on the official site and he could not be more right in my opinion. It just so happens that the next four games have fallen as away games in Champions League, Premier League and the League Cup, followed by Olympiakos and United at home, in which a perfect record will see us make ground on City and start our European expedition on the right foot.
Those games are coming fast too. Zagreb on Wednesday, Chelski on Saturday, the Spuds the following Wednesday and then Leicester on the Saturday. Of those games the one that is standing out like a fiery beacon of hell to me is that game at Stamford Bridge next weekend. The manager would rightly point to the game this Wednesday as the most important, as he should, but as a fan with a lot of emotional baggage to carry I’m looking at the recent history of that Chelski game with trepidation.
Perhaps I shouldn’t, perhaps I should be like fellow Gooner friends and believe that never has there been a better time to play that lot, but our record and their need threatens to derail a good run in my mind right now.
But still, I should take a leaf from Le Boss and the players and try to ignore all talk of the lunchtime kick off in favour of the trip to Croatia. We have a challenging group but one we’re expected to et through despite the presence of Bayern and we can go a long way to that goal by a win away this week. Lose your first Champions League game and you’re always looking up and chasing. That’s what we can’t afford to do.
But that’s why it’s a pivotal period right now. Losing the first Champions League game makes it an uphill climb. Losing against Chelski would probably send us further points away from City and make that a steeper climb too. Losing to the Spuds – as horrific a concept that might be – sees our ability to win a trophy this season reduced by one. Then we are away to a Leicester team who have performed well so far and are riding high, followed by two home games, both of which are essentially ‘must wins’.
There doesn’t seem much room for error here, does there?
However, if we win the majority of those games – or even all of them – what a different outlook everyone will have. We would be well on our way to qualification in Europe, we’ll have dispatched either ‘title contenders’ or ‘in form’ teams in the league and we’ll really fancy our chances in domestic competition. Confidence will be high amongst fans and players and as Theo mentions in the article I linked to above, few will concern themselves with the why’s and wherefore’s of how we got into a good run of form, just that we did. From there the swagger in our performances can return, but right now it’s about end product, i.e. results.
I’d assume Arsène will give some news to the official site today about who’s available, as I think his presser will be tomorrow in Zagreb, so we’ll no doubt find out more about the game ahead then.
Until such time as we hear from Arsène, cheerio.