Happy Christmas Eve to you all and despite the fact Leicester did us a favour on Saturday, clearly it was too much to ask Everton not to be a complete shambles against Tottenham yesterday. You watch, when we go to Goodison they’ll suddenly turn in to Pep’s Barcelona, as opposed to the walking crash that was them yesterday.
Oh well, never mind, not a lot we can do with that, except do our business on Boxing Day away to Brighton.
It’ll be a tough one though and it’s only when you start to think about it you realise just how important this time of year is. This game in a couple of days didn’t really feel like it would be as important as it is a few weeks back but having seen a lot of the other teams around us continue to pick up points we suddenly find ourselves in a situation where one slip up will be very costly.
Chelsea are away to Watford and Palace before playing Southampton at home. They’ll most likely pick up nine points I would have thought.
The Totts have Bournemouth and Wolves before having to travel to Cardiff at home. A nice and easy Christmas run and a nailed on nine points for them.
United have Huddersfield, Bournemouth and Newcastle away. They’ll surely win all of those and even though they’re a fair few points away from us, we will very easily find that those ahead of us are slowly drifting clear if we don’t get a minimum of six points from Brighton away, Liverpool away and Fulham at home. You’d hope we’d have enough to beat Fulham but Brighton will be tough and if what happens as I predict on the fixtures above actually happens, even a draw at Brighton could see the Totts get about nine points clear of us.
Heck, even United could reduce their gap to us to four points if we, say, draw to Brighton, lose to Liverpool, then beat Fulham in the new year.
Slip ups will be massively costly at this time of year and with our team already creaking because of injuries, suspensions, etc, it feels like we’ve got a pivotal and defining point in Emery’s first season right here.
The hope is that we get some players back and fit. Emery needs the likes of Monreal to be better after coming off at the weekend. Koscielny will surely play one of the games over the period but he can’t play all, so Mustafi’s return is needed, quite swiftly too. Xhaka has been great but he’s not a centre half and we need him alongside Torreira.
I guess it’s why we can understand the gamble Emery took on Saturday with Guendouzi and Elneny in midfield. If you can rest a player like Torreira for the Christmas period then that’s all the better. But with him one yellow away from a suspension anyway he’s bound to get an enforced rest soon as it is, and we just know it’ll end up happening against Brighton, meaning the Liverpool game is where we’ll see him out.
There is some thinking to be done for El Boss I have to say. He’s got to try to work out who he can play in both games, who should be missing from one or the other, who needs to be patched up and who is an overstretched limb away from a twanging hammy. He’s done well with rotating to keep players feeling included so far, which hopefully will help him, but the injuries to the team have really dented his plans somewhat and I’m sure that the club are looking at options for January. With Welbeck and Holding out for the season some decisions need to be made and I hope those are efficient decisions that see some action in the early weeks of January. We can’t be doing the old Arsenal and needing some fresh blood, yet leaving it until the last week of January, when lots of games have already been played. Let’s hope the club are already hard at work and Sven and Raoul are doing a bit of evening shifts trying to sniff out a deal or two.
But for now we have to make do and mend with our side and hope they’re capable of picking up three points on the south coast in a couple of days.
Have a good Christmas and I’ll catch you guys on the other side of the turkey and booze-filled haze.