With Wolves doing us a favour last night and Solskjaer saying they need five wins from six, inevitably the first thing I did this morning as I was brushing my teeth before work was to think “does that mean we only need four and a draw?”
If the United Boss is right it puts 76 points as a top four place secured and that would be 13 points for us. It means wins at home to Brighton and Palace are a must and that we need two victories and a draw against Watford, Leicester Everton and Burnley.
The hope is that Burnley are secure by then and perhaps the intensity isn’t there as much in their performance, but that game is the last in the season and ideally we don’t want to leave it that late, because I reckon it’ll be a feisty atmosphere up there and they’ll be sniffing blood with a few of the late decisions and goals that have been scored against them by us down the years.
But before that we have to navigate Everton and Watford before Easter, as well as a game at home against Palace for the Easter weekend and in my head I’m thinking seven points – two wins and a draw – would be massive in the context of our season. If we can somehow beat Everton away this coming weekend it would be more momentum and ensure that going in to the Napoli team this Arsenal side is looking good and pumped.
The hope is that Watford are on the beach by the time we ply them but that will depend on the FA Cup semi final against Wolves that they have coming up. I don’t really buy all of this ‘they’ll have their minds on the cup final’ nonsense I I have to say; we never say that about our guys when they get there and if we navigate past Napoli then who’s to say we won’t be able to be accused of the same thinking?
Yes, I get the argument “but they have nothing to play for in the league whereas we’re fighting for a Champions League spot” but in reality when I’ve watched teams against us away from home towards the end of the season I’ve rarely seen mid table sides just roll over and get their bellies tickled. It just doesn’t happen. Not to my untrained eyes anyway.
What also doesn’t happen is that we make things easy for ourselves and so I’m not expecting to get anything other than a rough ride in the league. What we do need is gameplans though and it feels like recently Unai has got a bit more of a handle of his team selection. He seems to be getting rotation right and as a result we’ve got performances that have seen much more like Arsenal of ten years ago rather than Arsenal of last year.
The proof will be in the away pudding though. We’ve been great at home this season and the month of March was chocked full of home games that the team passed with flying colours. Away performances require something different. They require quicker starts against teams in the middle of the division and lower because in those games you need to quieten down the crowd and make the game a ‘non-event’. Do that in the first half of a game and you go far.
So far away from home in this latter part of the season we’ve far from done that and the result has been performances like West Ham away; insipid and uninspiring team selections, a sluggish mentality and draw or like that game, defeat. In recent games we’ve scored earlier or at least in the first half and against Newcastle we had one chalked off quite early so it serves to show you why we’ve been better and been getting results. ‘Second half Arsenal’ May have been a funny meme or narrative that could be used when we were winning games whilst going on that unbeaten run, but as we found out, it’s hardly sustainable and I’m away games it does always feel like we need to take advantage early if we want to win away from home.
Let’s see what happens on Sunday.
In other news it seems that we’re linked with Zubizarreta as a possible Technical Director for the club. His links with Raoul Sanllehi makes it a possible story, but having been sacked at Barca and then going to Marseilles where I don’t really know if he’s pulled up trees or not, I’m not sure whether it’ll be a good thing or bad thing for Arsenal. Perhaps I’m becoming as weary over it as I am over Brexit. I’m at the stage where I don’t really care, we just need somebody in helping to sort out the mess that had been our transfer strategy in the last four or five years.
Here’s hoping the back room team at Arsenal sort themselves out sometime soon.
That’s all folks. Catch you tomorrow, hopefully after Palace have served up a hilarious opening evening at the Tiny Totts new stadium.