I know it’s the FA Cup this weekend, I inow it’s an opportunity to bench our league campaign for a few days, but it is the league that keeps me awake at night. What’s been keeping me awake is our poor form, but also the form of others, who have all picked up varying degrees of points, as we stagnated somewhat in January.
But with January coming to an end, perhaps we can look to get back on the saddle of winning, firstly by beating Burnely, but then by winning at least our next four games in a row.
It won’t be easy. We’ve buggered up enough games this season to know that, but with Southampton at home, Bournemouth away and Leicester at home to come before we entertain Swansea, we simply can’t afford to continue to bugger up our title chances.
In an effort to see where slip ups might occur in our opponents over the next three games, I also had a look at our rivals’ games too, although it didn’t exactly make for easy reading I’m afraid.
Matchday 24 sees the Spuds go to a terrible Norwich side who will roll over and have their bellies tickled like they have been doing all season except against us of course. Man City head up to Sunderland for similar fare, where our own real hopes of an upset lie with the inconsistent and injury-hit Liverpool turning over Leicester in the Midlands. Probably isn’t going to happen. So it means three points against Southampton are so very important because anything else will see us slip further behind.
Matchday 25 appears on the surface to offer some hope, as City play Leicester at the Etihad, but Leicester will most likely fall away and leave City driving towards a top place finish. The Spuds will smash Watford at home and unlike us being the only team Chelski appear to turn over, they’ll most likely get done over by United at home, so unless we can beat Bournemouth away (with our away form being very patchy for some time), we might start to be looking below us for the wrong reasons (i.e. We’re not top) rather than above.
Up until this point I’ve probably been a little too glass half empty I know, but when we play Leicester at the ridiculous time of 12pm on Valentine’s Day, if we have picked up maximum points from Southampton and Bournemouth, then we’ll have a bit of confidence about us and I’d fancy us to beat the Foxes. That’s just as well really, because that weekend sees City at home to the Spuds and again, I’d fancy City for that. So, by the end of matchday 26, we could see ourselves at least level on points with the league leaders. The only downside of which is that it will most likely be City. The only hope is that as they fight on multiple fronts, they may be susceptible to injury and fatigue, as shown by De Bruyne’s knee injury yesterday evening. They have the biggest squad and so probably can’t complain too much, but that will have an impact, so I get the feeling that for us the next month is going to be crucial.
Of course I know that predicting results is a fools errand, but I am a fool of the highest order – a footballing one – so that’s what we do. This kind of mapping of future results helps me to cleanse myself of results like the Chelski one last weekend, offering that one feeling that all football fans covet more than anything else: hope.
This weekend can provide the platform for a winning run and lord knows we know this Arsenal team have proven they can go on winning runs. So this period in the season now is about showing it.
Show me Arsenal. Show us. We’re all willing you on. You just need to do it.