Morning folks. Happy Chinese New Year if you’re so inclined to celebrate it. Me personally, I’m half celebrating because my company is predominantly Asian based and so whilst I don’t get the day off like many of them do, I have to say it’s rather nice having a week where I can play catch up with all of my work.
Ahh, catch up, something Arsenal are certainly familiar with and something that Giles and I spoke about yesterday on the Arsenal Fans Show on LoveSport last night. The defeat to City May have been like chucking a bit of iodine on an already stinging wound, but what we have to hope is that Man City get a win against Everton tomorrow night so they can put Chelski to the sword this upcoming weekend.
Both Arsenal and Chelski have a reversal of opponents but whilst the Chavs have an away game after smashing Huddersfield 5-0, we have to travel away to Yorkshire in what will undoubtedly be a tougher fixture than they faced.
Last night we started looking at the upcoming fixtures and it’s fair to say – when you play the ol’ “on paper” game – we have what feels like a better run in. United still have to play City, Liverpool, Chelski and us in their run in; Chelski have to play United, City, Totts and Liverpool, whereas our tough ‘top six’ opponents are Tottenham away and United at home. The rest of the teams are what all the top six teams would count as ‘winnable’ but as I said last night our recent away form doesn’t exactly inspire with confidence.
In the league since Southampton broke the undefeated streak we’ve also lost to Liverpool and West Ham on top of the City defeat, as well as a draw away to Brighton, which means you have to go all the way back to November to find an away win for Arsenal. It’s a pretty shoddy record and something that needs to be addressed this weekend against the leagues bottom club.
Our next away fixtures – which I’m focusing on now because we’ve been pretty decent at home – are Huddersfield this weekend, then Tottenham, Wolves and Everton. With the indifferent form we’ve shown and the fact that the Totts probably are a better team than us, you’d probably expect us to lose that. Then you look at how Wolves have performed against the big teams and suddenly that trip looks like a very tough one. Everton is always a tough game for us despite how poorly they are from a form perspective, so if we got seven points out of the next four away games it wouldn’t surprise me. Part of me thinks that’s probably a likely scenario.
But is that enough?
I guess it depends how the team responds and potentially whether they take advantage of the rest days brought about by the lack of FA Cup and League cup games. Chelski play in both and have somewhat of a fixture schedule whereas United have a tough run of games which include the Champions League and the FA Cup away game to Chelsea. So for both teams there will need to be some juggling and perhaps the odd injury or two to contend with.
Unai has had that all season, to be fair to him, so perhaps there’s a bit of fortune coming his way with fewer players remaining in the team, to pick up any knocks.
It’s all permutations though and there are so many variables that will impact our run in. But Unai needs to find a settled team and he needs to start playing his match winners more regularly in my opinion. The transfer window has shut, he has his group of players between now and May, which means he needs to utilise all of those first teamers to get us close to that top four.
It all starts away to Huddersfield this weekend. The City win was always going to be one in which we take the “L” but now feels like the run in to the top four really starts to hot up.
We need to be on our game.
Catch you guys tomorrow.