Morning all. Still basking in the glow of a Saturday evening victory? I know I am. It felt good to get back to winning ways. It get good to beat a big team. It felt good to also close the gap on those above us.
But there is still much to do if we want to be back in the Champions League next season. Much like the victory over The Tiny Totts was followed by a patch of indifferent form caused by the onset of injuries amongst other things, this victory over Chelski needs to be followed up with a batch of wins that allow us to Lee the pressure on Chelski.
Chelski themselves have a similar run of games to us too so the next month could very much determine how the race for a Champions League spot goes. We play Cardiff at home, they play Bournemouth away. We then have to go to Man City whilst they host Huddersfield at Stamford Bridge. The following week we go to Huddersfield whilst they face Man City away.
I suspect for both teams the game at Man City will probably be chalked down as an ‘L’ which means if we want to claw back that three point gap we probably need Bournemouth to do us a favour, because the chances of a free-falling Huddersfield getting anything at Stamford Bridge are remote.
We still need to then pick up three points the following week if we’ve lost to City because I fully expect the gap to return to six points, but the week after that Chelski are at home to Brighton whilst we play Southampton at home. You’d hope we can get revenge for the defeat at St Mary’s but again I’d be surprised if Chelski drop points at home to Brighton. By then you’re talking 28 games in to a 38 game season and that leaves very little wiggle room if we’re still trailing by three points.
The gap isn’t insurmountable but it does go to show that Unai and his team have their work cut out for them this season I think. As always I’ll be crossing everything for us to find some form but we need to do it now really, because we’re running out of time and we’ve had enough slip ups already this season.
What we could do with is more defensive displays like the second half on Saturday. I said it in yesterday’s blog but I think it’s worth reiterating again this morning: I thought we were VERY good defensively in that second half. We ceded possession to Chelski but bodies were put in front of shots, we negated Hazard to the point in which you never really noticed him throughout, plus the whole back four stepped up and made timely tackles/interceptions/blocks when needed. It felt like we kept Chelski at arms length and if this team performed like that second half on a more regular basis then we’d have a solid foundation with which to be seriously talking about chasing down Tottenham rather than just Chelski.
The challenge is there for the players and they have to prove they’re up for it. They have to show consistency and if we get more of the same against United in the cup, then Cardiff in the league, I think more of us will start to believe that perhaps top for is actually ‘on’.
There’s plenty of football still to play, but Arsenal need to build momentum, and build it quickly.
Catch you all tomorrow.