Howdy all, hope you’re all ok and feeling good?
On Saturday I basked in the glow of victory and tried to ignore all of the other results around us. Arsenal did their bit, played well despite some more atrocious refereeing decisions, which will have given us all confidence and hope that we can kick on over the next few weeks and months to the end of the season. It was very much an introspective perspective from me on Saturday. But yesterday was more about looking at others and I spent a bit of time thinking about all of the results over the weekend. And it actually made me a bit grumpy.
Sure, West Ham dropped points and that was useful to us; they are up there and any team dropping points every weekend other than us is good, but by and large every other team picked up points – with the Scum being the most unexpected and annoying – and that is frustrating because we haven’t been able to put any additional daylight between us and any other team this weekend.
It’s probably because last weekend we didn’t play and pretty much every team slipped up. That gave me comfort and delight that we were gaining the upper hand in this top four race, but this weekend has brought a dose of reality that we Arsenal fans need to be appreciative of: This race is not going to be easy, simple, or a linear progression and slow victory march to the end of the season. We are going to drop points, as is every other team, so consistency in those games you are expected to win is key.
Then you need to pick up points in big games. We haven’t really won many of those big games this season. Sure, we beat the Scum with an impressive performance, but losses to Liverpool, Man City twice, Chelski and also Man United (which still irritates because they were shoddy) mean that we haven’t quite picked up those ‘bonus points’ I guess you’d call them.
And despite two losses leading to us thinking to wheels might already be coming off for Conte and that horrible lot round the corner, they picked up three very big ‘bonus points’ this weekend just gone, which was probably one of the biggest frustrations. Man United go to Man City next weekend when we play Watford away and by then we now need to have also beaten Wolves at home on Thursday to get back in to this top four race in the driving seat. They have played three games more but if we draw or lose to Wolves on Thursday, then it means United are four points clear with two games to pla. It goes to show you how quickly the momentum can shift in this race.
It also serves to highlight just how big this game is on Thursday because Wolves are a good side. They have been picking up win after win of late and having dispatched Tottenham last weekend, they put Leicester away yesterday and will be having designs on revenge on Thursday night. We need to be ready for them and we need to be on it because the prize for victory is massive. If we win on Thursday that will be three wins on the bounce and yet another one of those ‘cup finals’ people have been talking about being won. But it won’t be easy and is another big game we need to see some big performances from.
The good news for Arteta will be that he has a full strength side to pick from. Martinelli will have served his suspension and you would have thought that Tomiyasu is in line to start. Cedric has had a decent enough couple of games but with the way Wolves play it feels like Tomi is ideally suited to their threat of those long diagonals. We’ll see what the noises are in the coming days but we at least have what appears to be a clean bill of health in the squad ahead of the game (touches wood on the table).
After that game we have another extended break too, as we won’t play Watford until 6th March due to our game against Liverpool being moved because of the Carabao Cup final, so we need to try to leave a good taste in the mouth before we play against next and that is making me feel like that Wolves game has even more importance. That’s because if we miss out a game week and every team picks up points next weekend, we’ll feel like the pressure is on despite the games in hand. It’s unlikely that we’ll get another fortunate weekend of all of our rivals dropping points and so come next Sunday night if we have dropped points against Wolves then we will almost certainly start to look up at a gap forming with some trepidation.
This race will have many twists and turns ahead and the latest one isn’t too far away, so let’s hope the team has a serene week ahead and can show us what it is made of later on this week.
Catch you wonderful people tomorrow. Have a good one.