We’re all now on countdown to arguably the biggest game of the season now, aren’t we? I mean, it may not feel like it to you, but to me this upcoming match against West Ham is massive. It’s massive because of what has transpired before it. In the grand scheme of things, the game against Moneychester City could turn out to be the biggest of the season, but I suspect a couple more wins in Leicester’s next two games will effectively make that penultimate game of the season feel rather redundant when it eventually comes around.
Which makes this weekend’s game against West Ham so important. They are a good team. Better than Watford, better than Everton, better than us on the first day of the season. So it makes this match up away from home so difficult.
It could be all over by Saturday afternoon, but let’s retain as much hope as possible, and wait for Arsène’s pre-match presser to see what he says today when he does his talking.
I just hope we can keep the ‘hope’ alive come Monday. And if Leicester and the spuds can do their bit by stumbling, then turning that hope into more than a fading dream would be marvellous.
Changing the subject slightly, I bet you today’s press conference starts off with the threat of descending into a session about Arsenal being named in the Sunday Times doping scandal, quickly dismissed by the manager and a declaration that he’s here to talk about Saturday’s game. Arsène has spoken quite vociferously about his opinions on that subject and so I would be stunned beyond belief if we were properly implicated, as I think he would, so I expect a defiant response and “next question” approach to today’s presser. Which is at 9am so by the time I’ve finished typing and you’ve probably had the chance to read/watch/listen, will most likely have finished. The perils of writing an 8am blog I suppose.
Anyway, back to the run in, in which Graeme Souness has said that the Spuds have the easiest run in of the three teams at the top of the league. I see his logic – the teams have the least to play for – but on paper at least it doesn’t seem that way. United are chasing a top four spot, Stoke are just Stoke and will be difficult, West Brom at home will provide no dramas (especially as we’d have played them on the Thursday), Chelski away won’t be easy with their upturn in form against Hiddink and Southampton at home isn’t a forgone conclusion either. I still think they’ll get at least four wins if you count West Brom and Newcastle away as ‘bankers’, but I don’t see it as the easiest run in.
That’s got to be Leicester’s. People are talking about how Sunderland are fighting for their lives, which I understand, but have you actually seen them play? If it weren’t for Jermaine Defoe’s goals they’d be as dead and buried as Aston Villa. They’re a terrible team. They will, of course, play like Madrid against us, but against Leicester they’ll roll over and have their tummies tickled. Which then leaves West Han at home, who will be tough but I suspect they’ll have eyes on the cup and not the league by then (hoping they beat United), Swansea at home who are dire (yes, they beat us, but a team of one-legged yaks could have turned us over that night), then United away (tricky), Everton at home (harder than playing Everton at Goodison) and Chelski on the final game of the season. I suspect Leicester won’t need that game to win the league. I think they’ll beat Sunderland, Swansea and West Ham, with the Everton game to clinch the title.
As for us, our run in looks manageable, if you discount this weekend. This is the big hurdle. If somehow we can overcome a motivated, confident and well-organised West Ham team, then we have Palace, Sunderland, West Brom and Norwich before we go to City. If we were to get three points against West Ham (*crosses everything and touches every piece of wood, even the stuff that is plastic, but looks like wood, in sight*) then suddenly we look good for going on a winning run.
There’s a lot of ‘theory’ in there. We haven’t gone on a run like that all season. So the ‘theory’ is being sprayed about like a garden hose on some newly flowering azaleas. But nevertheless, if this game is overcome with a win, I might just keep up the hope that the impossible is possible. We’re not dead and buried yet.
Anyway, we’ll get lots of “let’s just focus on our game” from Arsène today, which is right, so I’ll get back to you tomorrow with some post-presser thoughts then.