Morning Gooners – y’all alreet?
I didn’t watch the Champions League Semi Final between Liverpool and Emery’s Villareal, but it seems as though even Mr European Cup Competition himself – Unai Emery – could overcome this Liverpool team, who are juggernaughting their way to trophies at the moment, it seems. They better bloody do the same this coming weekend against The Scum, because you just know that they will end up suddenly being able to skank their way to victory through counter attack, if Liverpool aren’t careful.
But if they are, if they do their jobs and beat The Scum, then it creates a massive – huge, even – opportunity for Arsenal to build even a chink of daylight between us and them as we head in to the final fortnight in the season. But what it doesn’t do – or it certainly shouldn’t do – is to allow the mindset for the team, or us as fans, to shift on that North London Derby game. That is a huge game no matter which way the chips fall and if they fall in our favour – still something that could easily not happen (think about how we were against Brighton at home, when they had not a lot to play for, or how the Scum skanked Man City at the Etihad by hitting them on the counter) – then I still feel like we need to get something in that NLD. And the reason I say this?
The goal difference issue.
The Scum have had a few wobbles in terms of performances, but when they’ve won, they’ve won big and I have previously said on Twitter that goal difference at this stage in the season feels like it equates to a point in itself. It is certainly looming over me when I start to do that classic football fan thing of projecting out scenarios in our heads. Take this scenario for example; we somehow manage to get that five point lead over them going in to the North London Derby. The pressure is on them because they have to win to stand a chance of top four. They get that win on their own ground, not unfeasible given our record there (our last win there in the Premier League was eight years ago in 2014 and we have five losses and two draws in that time), which then brings the points tally back to two points. They play Burnley and Norwich – both of who they will more than likely beat – whilst we go to a Newcastle who before last weekend’s defeat to Liverpool had won four on the bounce and were one of the form teams in 2022. It isn’t beyond the realms of possibility that we get a draw there, which means that even if we open up a five point lead by the time this upcoming weekend is done, we could still find ourselves level on points and with a vastly inferior goal difference for the final game of the season.
So whilst I’m appreciative that we are in the position that it is ‘in our own hands’, what we don’t want to happen is that we take our eyes and the focus off the prize here.
Of course, anything other than a win against Leeds renders a lot of what I’m talking about obsolete. As would a Scum win at Liverpool. By the time we all wake up on Sunday morning we’ll all know exactly what we need to do to and where we are at in terms of whether this five point gap exists, but what we need to have in our minds more than anything else is that this season feels like it could swing at any moment and what many expect as foregone conclusions (us to beat Brighton, Tottenham to beat Brighton, us to lose to Chelski, Tottenham to beat Man City), often swing the opposite way. The narrative of the season suggests that there might be another time in which we are feeling like it is out of our hands. Let’s just hope that isn’t the case on the final day of the season.
I just hope that uncomfortable twist is just one in which by the end of it, everything still remains in our hands.
The rest of the guff going on around Arsenal right now is related to transfers and not of it isn’t really that interesting if I’m honest. Gabreial Jesus is either ‘on’ or ‘off’ depending on who you read/listen to, but when we have something to play for in the league as we do at the moment, that feels a little pointless to go in to speculation right now. It’s nice to see a player who should be in contention for the side next season – William Saliba – be given the accolade of nomination for Ligue 1’s Young player of the Year award. It shows what a solid decision it was for him to go there this season and the only question mark we should all have is how Arsenal get him to sign a contract extension. If Arteta welcomes him with open arms, tells him he’s going to play a lot of footbal at The Arsenal next season, then we can get him to sign up over the summer (he has two year’s left on his current deal), then I have a feeling we could really reap the benefits of him next season. But if he’s not convinced he will play he might just want to hold off signing that deal and that means he has one year left this time next season. Lots of ‘if’s and ‘but’s in that I know, but as I’ve just demonstrated with my mental gymnastics getting worried about the permutations of the rest of the Premier League, I’m more than capable of getting overly wound up over a potential future contract of a player who still has yet to make a first team debut in an Arsenal shirt.
And so I think I shall call time on today’s ramblings. Enjoy your Wednesday and I’ll be back tomorrow with more thoughts on all things Arsenal.
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