Donald Trump looks like he could become the next President of the United States and Leicester City could become Premier League champions. What witchcraft is this?
The reality is that only one of the above would be seen as a positive for most normal people. Although as an Arsenal fan you’d have to say the second option doesn’t really count as ‘positive’. Not unless the other option is the Spuds. It’s not positive because it means that our group of players have once again failed to live up to expectations. Once again failed to deliver. Regardless of how Leicester’s form has been so remarkable, this is a league that Arsenal could and should, have taken by storm. But there have been too many transgressions. Chelski stand out, but Norwich away, West Brom away, Southampton away and even Liverpool away are all still very fresh in my mind. Those are the games that I will look back on if we don’t do it and say “we should have been better”.
But let me not throw in the towel just yet. Most of the journos have called time on Arsenal’s title charge, so it would be remiss of me as a fan to give up too. Whilst we are still in it, we still have a chance, regardless of our recent history of bottling it when it comes to opportunities like this. Come on Arsenal. Prove everyone wrong. Show you can do this. I dares ya.
If we do best Leicester this weekend, it will provide a morale booster, but that will only be skin deep. I am looking at three key fixtures after this weekend that could see us fall into yet another scrap for the top four, or dream of recapturing the league title once again.
Our record at Old Trafford in the league is nothing short of woeful. Even when United have been woeful, we’ve failed to beat them. The win in the FA Cup was great last season, but I often view those games in isolation, which is why the winless run against Chelski has hardly been softened because of the Community Shield. We play United in a few weeks and if we’re within a point or two of the top by then, we’ll have to win to a) instil belief that we can win the big games away from home on a consistent basis, and b) pick up the neccessary points required to start building a lead at the top of the league. If we fail against Leicester this weekend, I don’t see this team recovering in time to catch them up and a game like United away, could turn into the first marker of our drifting down the league.
However, if we win at Old Trafford, having (hopefully, please God, hopefully) beaten Leicester, I can see the swagger returning to this team. It’s a big ask, because United has started to play better again, but if it can be done it will set us up for an amazing final few months.
It will come as no surprise that this game will feature in my ‘terrifying three’, because Tottenham look more serious contenders than I’ve ever seen them be before, their form akin to when Arsenal won the league in 98. After Christmas that year we went on a relentless winning streak and whilst the Spuds have suffered defeats, they’re putting together winning runs on a more consistent basis, which has me worried I must admit. By the time we play them on 5th March we could be in a position where they are on a fantastic run of form (if they beat City) and we are struggling (if we fail to beat Leicester and United), and we haven’t really been able to regularly turn over that ‘orrible lot on their patch for some time. Sure, we had the COC win earlier in the season, but it will be a Spud team with more confidence and better players this time around so I don’t expect it to be anything other than one of the hardest games of the season.
Alternatively, we could have started a winning run ourselves and arrive at their hovel with our swagger in tact, players like Welbeck, Coquelin and Alexis all fully fit and with an opportunity to put their title bid on the back burner.
Second from last game in the season, against the team expected to walk it this season, who will have key players back and I’m convinced will be fighting for the title. This current City slump is temporary. They are in a bit of a funk right now but by the time we play them, they will be back in the race and there’s no way they’ll be as poor as they were against Leicester. In my fantasy world of Arsenal winning the title, we go into this game at least three points clear of City at the top of the league, knowing that only a goal-difference cock up will have us remain top going in to the final game of the season. But I know it won’t be like that. I know and you know that even if we’re still in with a shout of the league at that time, we will most likely need to win in order to have a chance of winning the title and despite the fact Leicester have just turned them over, City have a fantastic home record for a reason. They just don’t lose there very much. If somebody would offer me a draw right now, regardless of whether we need it or not, I’d take it, then set the team the challenge of being top when we travel to the Etihad.
So, that’s it for me, those are the three games that I think will define our season after this weekend. I say that knowing full well that this game at the weekend will probably have defined our season already by the time the first of the above fixtures Coke around. Which is why Leicester at home is probably the most important one we’ve had so far this season. It feels like it all starts from here. The spiral of upward positivity and momentum, or the crashing of dreams, it all gets decided this weekend.
It’s enough to send you grey, I tells ya.