Happy Tuesday folks. Just over 48 hours to go until the next edition of The Arsenal is out, with the gents travelling to Rennes for the first of our two legged knockout against the French side. After three games in a week it feels like a bit of a no mans land right now but we shouldn’t complain, because at this time of year there are teams out of all competitions so their fans have little to concern themselves with except the next league game.
But if we focus on what’s to be done in the league it does bring in to sharp focus just how much of a challenge we have to get in to the top four this season. It also shows just how important a win on Sunday against Man United might be.
Not only does a win put us two clear of them and bring our destiny back in to our own hands but it would deal a useful psychological blow to an opponent who has been on a very tidy run of form since Solskjaer took over. They’ll be buoyed by a late minute winner against Southampton and it’ll be a tough game for us, but it isn’t the only tough game and despite what people are saying about our favourable run after United at home, there could still be points to drop.
We haven’t been very good away from home of late. The win against Huddersfield masked a poor performance against a team who will surely be relegated. Before that saw a defeat to Man City, defeat to West Ham, defeat to Liverpool, draw with Brighton and defeat to Southampton. We’ve not been doing the business away from home and it’s been our home form that has given us hope for the top four. If we’re going to get that top four spot then we need victories away from home.
Those away games include an impressive Wolves side, Leicester City who will no doubt see improvement under Brendan Rodgers, Everton away which always feels like a tough game for us (despite how poor they’ve been at times this season), as well as Burnley away in which we’ve relied on some fortune as well as a little bit of steel to beat them in the last few seasons.
Whilst there are no ‘top six’ teams in that list, these are all teams who we’ve had problems with in the past and our form this season away from home suggests that there will be little different when we play those teams this season. So bringing all of this in to context of the top four spot, we need to change our away form and do it quickly.
We also need our world class strikers to finish their chances. Nobody is doubting their quality amongst the Arsenal fan base I don’t think, but we’ve seen a fair few chances that feel ‘guilt edged’ from both Laca and Auba this season that have been missed and at this stage in the season their accuracy need to be spot on, especially given the fact that we are not a team that play the percentages with regards to the volume of shots we take. So those two need to not miss opportunities like Laca’s slice on Saturday and Aruba’s penalty miss.
This weekend will be massive but we need to remember that it is just one step we need to take. If we overcome the sizeable obstacle that is United then we look towards Newcastle at home and Everton away as the next hurdle. And we need to see Arsenal maintain the momentum we’ve had of the last week. It’s a bit of a pain that after Rennes at home in just over a week’s time we have a couple of weeks before we play again but the fixture list is what it is. We need to ensure that we can pick up where we left off – if we are still on a winning run that is – and get more points on the board by winning those two games after the international break.
It’s getting to the ‘business end’ and we’re still in the hunt. Hopefully in a week’s time we’re still smiling.
Catch you all tomorrow.