Morning Gooners, how we all doing this Monday morn? Good?

Last night I did the Sane Old Arsenal podcast and we talked about the emotions of last week, as well as the importance of the win. Then this morning, as I was brushing my teeth and scrolling through Twitter, I saw a tweet saying we had eight home games and seven away games to be Champions of England once again. For the first time in 19 years. The tweet also listed out all of those games and it has really got me thinking this morning:

What is it actually going to take for us to win the league?”

Ponder it yourself for a second. What do you think is needed for us to actually deliver that trophy for which we’ve – if we’re being realistic here – never really come close to competing for probably since 2007/8, in which by the end we never really were catching United after five games without a win in that February and March period? I know we came second in 2015/16 but we were never really close to catching Leicester that year after going five games without a win in January, losing back-to-backs against United and Swansea, then picking up too many draws in that run in towards the end (West Ham, Palace, Sunderland and Man City). So this time around could, if we can maintain a winning run, give us a chance of at least coming close to competing right until the death, which hasn’t really happened at all since 2005 if you ask me.

We are reaching crunch period here folks and the next few weeks are absolutely pivotal on whether we really take this title fight until the end of the season. And fine margins make every bit of difference. On Saturday our last minute goals followed by City’s draw away to Nottingham Forest, meant that we go two points clear. If we’d have only picked up a draw then in hindsight it wouldn’t be as bad this morning as we’d still be level on points, but that six-odd minutes of injury time has had a massive bearing on how the table is looking and also could have a massive bearing on the season. Next weekend we travel to Leicester, who I thought up until they went one behind yesterday against United, looked very impressive indeed. They will pose a serious threat to us and unless we get a win there you can see City picking up and getting those points back on us when they play Bournemouth in the evening kick off. But we can put pressure on by playing first and getting the result. We can make it harder for City by doing our business earlier in the day. We just have to get over the line in terms of three points.

We have 15 games to win the title. Win all 15 and we’re champions. But we all know it ain’t that easy and when you look at the fixtures, it is going to be really tough for us to get over the line. If we play like we did for the first half of the season then you’d hope we’d have enough. City at home aside, we’ve had a very impressive home record and if we can win the eight remaining home games, that knocks us up to 78 points in total. That isn’t going to be enough to win the league. So I think winning a decent chunk of those away games is going to be a big part of any potential title win.

But when you look at those away games….sheesh….that is going to be a tough challenge.

Leicester – have a good side, despite what people think, and have just battered the Scum at home, so it’s an unpredictable team who have hurt us in the past and I can see will cause us potential problems on Saturday next weekend.

Fulham – very impressive this season, have been good at the Emirates and we needed a late winner to secure the points. They will pose us another problem.

Liverpool – we haven’t won there in donkey’s years, they have plenty of players returning, I think that’s somewhere that we should probably look at as an outside bet for picking up anyway.

West Ham – down there, fighting for their lives, that might – depending on whether they pull themselves out of the relegation zone by the time we play them – be one of the games we earmark as one of the few we need to win.

Man City – I don’t see us getting anything there, if I’m honest.

Newcastle – that will be tough. The hope is that they’ve run out of steam and don’t have as much to play for, although that was their situation when they beat us at home last season, so again that one might be a tough one for us to win.

Forest – ok, City battered them and should have won, but they’ve not lost at home since September. The City ground is a tough place to go and if that form continues, then it might be a challenge for us. The up side is that if that form continues, they’ll probably be safe by the time that game comes around and then it becomes about whether Arsenal can do the business against a team with little to play for.

So if we can win all home games, then it comes down to how many away games it might take to win the Premier League. Looking at those fixtures, that feels to me like we need to win all eight home games and then win at least four away games, minimum. Four away wins added to eight home gives you 90 points. This season I think that does it. Man City have 14 games to play; seven at home and seven away. I am thinking they probably win all seven. That means they probably need to be looking at winning at least five of their seven away games which include Bournemouth, Palace, Southampton, Brighton, Fulham, Everton, Brentford. Maybe Brentford give them a tough game on the final day, but I suspect not as they’ll be safely tucked in mid table. Everton are terrible against anyone but us. Brighton will be tough for them but Southampton are rubbish. Palace might put up a fight but I don’t think so and I expect them to beat Bournemouth this weekend coming. So I think they are perfectly capable of winning five of that seven. That gives 36 points and means they get closer to 88. They are more than capable of bettering that. The maximum they can get to is 94 but I think they will drop some points at some stage, as will we. But if we can get those four away wins that I am talking about, then I think we might just do it.

That’s why Leicester next weekend suddenly becomes massive. It’s why Fulham, West Ham and Forest away are all also massive. It’s all very well talking about having to win one of the ‘big’ games against the better sides (in terms of league table and form) in that run in (Liverpool, City, Newcastle), but if we do the business in those other away games – whilst making sure we do the business at home (and let’s not forget we could still drop points at home) – then we might have a shot at this.

There are still too many ‘ifs’ at the moment for me to start saying things like ‘I’m on the train’ as I’ve heard some Arsenal fans say. I’ve always said I’d wait to see where we’re at on match day 25. That will be after Leicester at home and Everton away. If we can somehow pick up six points from our next two games, then maybe….MAYBE….it’ll start to feel a little realer for me. But until then, I’m trying to keep my hopes in check.

Catch you all tomorrow. Have a good one.