At this crunch time in the season, anything that feels even slightly out of the ordinary or doesn’t go the way you’d hoped, feels like a hammer blow. So even Tottenham skanking their way to a point, leaving them one point behind us, felt like a bit of punch in the gut. Liverpool we’re supposed to do their job and win, not stutter their way to a draw.

But enough about the Scum, because we have to focus on our game against Leeds today and the worry is that this Arsenal team may feel the heat against an opponent battling for its life in Leeds United. They currently sit 17th on 34 points, two clear of Everton, who have a game in hand. They have 11 points from their last six and they are looking like a side that will put everything on the line today, so Arsenal won’t get an easy ride.

We have to win at all costs at home. We cannot let psychological pressure kick in.

The prize for victory today is massive. Winning today means Arsenal have it in their hands and can secure top four by beating the Scum. A draw means that we remain two clear of them, but will heal more pressure on that North London Derby, probably effectively making it a ‘winner takes all’ match on Thursday. North London Derby’s are painful at the worst of times, but I’m not sure how I’ll handle Thursday if there is everything riding on it!

In order for that to be less of a case though, those Arsenal players need to step up today. They need to be focused. The passing needs to be crisp, not sloppy, we need to chase and harry our opponents and we need to not be hit on the counter. Leeds will want space to do that. They will know if Arsenal leave them space then they have the likes of Rodrigo, Dan James, Raphinha, as well as that young chap Gelhart, all with the pace and trickery to cause us problems. So we have to make sure we do not give them licence and space to punish us.

We need Tomiyasu to be back to his best and at times when we are in possession you’d hope that we flick back in to that back three with – fingers crossed he’s back fit – Ben White alongside Gabriel. No offence to Rob Holding, but this isn’t the day for him and the idea of him further up the pitch in a foot race with any of Leeds’ attackers, does fill me with trepidation I have to say. So if we can have that three of Gabriel, White and Tomiyasu starting, it will feel a lot better.

Then it is incumbent on the attacking players to deliver and I wonder what options Arteta will go for today? Does he opt for the direct running off the ball of a Gabriel Martinelli who played excellently against Leeds earlier in the season? Or does he look for the direct running with the ball at his feet of Emile Smith Rowe, to use his trickery to beat a Leeds side who will fight for every ball?

Personally, I think I might be tempted to go Smith Rowe from the start and then unleash Gabi with 20-30 minutes to go if we need a goal, which hopefully is not the case. But regardless of who plays, the intensity needs to be there. The players need to start fast and impose themselves on this match. If that happens the crowd will do it’s bit but if we start tentatively, if we look withdrawn, then you fear that pressure might have got the better of this young team and that they might wilt knowing how close they are to winning a very big and important prize for next season.

So we need to see quick movement of the ball, intense pressure in the key areas and more than anything, get that first goal early to settle the nerves because the nerves of the situation will quickly start to creep in to the crowd if we don’t start in the right way.

It is funny what a week will do in football. After we beat West Ham last weekend my mind was racing with the possibility of not having so much pressure on Arsenal if we keep this momentum up. But momentum can be sucked from you with one bad patch of football in one game and with this Leeds game edging closer every day I’ve gone from “come on, we could do this” to “please god, can we do this?”. If I’m feeling the pressure, what of those players?

Maybe the new contract will also give them all a bit of a mini boost. I hope so. I hope some of those players have been a little bit more excited about the longer term nature of this ‘project’ that we are all on. I hope that it gives them a little more energy in their running today – even if only by the tiniest, most minute, margin – that helps us get over the line. I’m hoping we see an Arsenal side quick out of the blocks and determined to stamp an authority on a game of football today.

If we get that, if we start early, then I think we have enough to do it. Ødegaard, Saka, Smith Rowe and Martinelli are all the boys that we need to see good games from, but Nketiah, Xhaka and Elneny all need to play a part and my hope is that we see them all stepping up today to secure the three points.

If you are going, sing up for The Arsenal, and let’s hope we can all be happy come dinner time tonight.

Catch you all tomorrow.