WTTGT Writer: Vivek Arulnathan
Arsenal have clearly put the disappointing start to the season behind them and produced some battling displays to climb to seventh in the table. All the doom and gloom surrounding the club seems to have vanished in the wake of a much needed run of victories that culminated in a 5-3 demolition of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
And even the 0-0 draw against Marseille at home has been looked at positively by the fans and there is certainly an air of hope and expectation around the Emirates as we head into November. Though there are concerns that a defeat now might put the team off again, Arsenal fans should be delighted that the next fifteen games are all winnable games, at least on paper!
Before Arsenal take on Manchester United at home on January 22, Arsenal will play 11 league games, 2 Champions League games and 2 domestic cup games. No game in the top flight is an easy one that can be taken lightly but Arsenal have a huge opportunity to climb up the table in this period while some of their top four opponents have difficult games to cope with. Let us take a look.
Arsenal play West Brom (H) this weekend and that is a game Arsenal should be winning. After the international break, Arsenal face Norwich (A) and Fulham (H) on either side of the crucial Champions League encounter against Dortmund at the Emirates. Norwich have played pretty well but Arsenal will see them off if they stay focussed and Dortmund and Fulham at home are important games Arsenal cannot afford to lose.
Then comes the Carling Cup tie against Man City. If Arsenal go into this game on a good run of results, we can fancy our chances at home. Beating Man City at home will show that we are truly back and will also take us one step closer to that elusive silverware.
The congested December stretch will see Arsenal take on Wigan (A), Olympiakos (A), Everton (H), Man City (A), Aston Villa (A), Wolves (H) and QPR (H). Among these seven games, only Man City at Eastlands is an unrealistic hope of getting three points.
Wolves and Wigan look doomed for relegation and QPR are unlikely to challenge the Gunners at Emirates. The matches against Everton and Olympiakos (CL) are not easy fixtures but if the squad remains fit and Wenger rotates his players carefully, Arsenal will be able to take 15 points from these six league games. The New Year will see us travel to Fulham and Swansea before we play United at home and we’ll also have the FA Cup third round in between to cope with.
Arsenal’s opponents for the top four will face off against each other quite a lot during this period. Newcastle are yet to face Man City, United, Liverpool and Chelsea and are quite likely to drop out of the top four. The Spurs will take on Man City, Chelsea and Stoke away from home while Liverpool face Man City (twice) and Chelsea in the same period. So points will clearly be dropped and it is up to Arsenal to take advantage.
Arsenal have been solid at home but their away form has left a lot to be desired. Hopefully, the win at Stamford Bridge will act as a catalyst to discover last season’s away form. Expecting our players to win eleven league games on the trot is pretty stupid but Arsenal should be aiming to pick up a minimum of around 25-28 points from the 33 available in this period while also securing their qualification to the knockout stages of the Champions League.
With a fit RVP, injury-free defence and a couple of summer signings, Arsenal will surely be into the top four by the time they face off against Man United on January 22. But Arsenal shouldn’t be looking at the fixtures on paper. No game will be a walk in the park and Arsenal will have to get their heads down, keep their feet firmly in the ground and work their socks off if they aim of finishing in the top four.
Believe me, these fifteen games will decide our season. UP GUNNERS!
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