At present, we are lying 6th in the Premier League table with 45 points, 8 points behind Chelsea and 12 points behind Tottenham in 4th.
We are a remarkable 30 points behind league leaders Manchester City, who put us to the sword for the second time in a week at the Emirates last night, having convincingly drubbed us by the same margin (3-0) in the League Cup Final on Sunday. City became the 3rd team to beat us at home this season (joining United and Östersunds). There is more than a quarter of the season left to play.
The top four teams in the league are also topping the current form table, so it seems likely that the Champions League spots will be shared among them once the season draws to a close.
Looking at that form table, I don’t see any hope of Arsenal achieving Top 4.
Even if Spurs has their annual end-of-season implosion, I don’t believe they will blow a 12-point gap. Liverpool are scoring for fun and are a joy to watch. They do slip up occasionally, however Klopp’s team always seems to bounce back quickly. Mourinho’s United would win a bus-parking race any day of the week – the Portuguese manager knows how to eke out victories with the smallest of margins. How these teams finish at the end of the day is anyone’s guess – but they are certain to occupy the top four spots.
Chelsea, on the other hand, are going through a bit of a rough patch. There is plenty of talk of Conte leaving at the end of the season; some are calling for his head right now. Sources close to the club say, however, that Chelsea would rather have a mutually-agreed summer parting of ways with the embattled Italian than a mid-season dismissal. Sound familiar?
In any case – Chelsea’s current form and the mood at their club are almost as toxic as ours. If we were showing any kind of consistency or urgency, I’d posit that there was a chance of catching them for the coveted Europa League spot – but I’m not even sure we can do that. In all likelihood we will be finishing in 6th, and qualifying for Europa (with City having won the League Cup, and depending if one of the Top 4 wins the FA Cup, which seems likely.)
ARSENAL REMAINING FIXTURES
Let’s have a quick look at our remaining fixtures. (In brackets, the result of the opposite 2017/18 fixture.)
Watford (1-2); Stoke (0-1); Southampton (1-1); West Ham (0-0); Burnley (1-0)
- Arsenal lost 1-2 to Watford in this season’s away fixture, with Cleverly snatching an injury-time goal. We lost by the same margin in the home fixture last season, and were knocked out of the 2016 FA Cup – again by the same margin! – at the Emirates. I don’t 1-2 admit it – but they are a bogey team of ours.
- Stoke have proved tricky opposition for us on the road: they beat us 1-0 at the Orc Arena back in August – but we have beaten them convincingly at home in the last six clashes.
- We drew against Southampton in the corresponding Away game, with super-sub Giroud rescuing a point in the 86th minute from an Alexis cross. We scraped a 2-1 win against Southampton last season, with one Santiago Cazorla converting a penalty in the 93rd minute; we drew the season before that. (And the season before that Southampton knocked us out of the League Cup on our home ground). Southampton’s form on the road has been pretty decent. (Better than ours, though that isn’t saying much).
- In December, Monreal’s off-the-line clearance against West Ham saved us a point in a game that saw the Hammers having an offside-goal disallowed. We knocked them out of the League Cup a week later at the Emirates, where we have been strong against West Ham of late – beating them 3-0 in the corresponding fixture last May.
- Of the remaining home fixtures, Arsenal only beat Burnley in the opposite fixture, with Alexis converting a controversial 92’ penalty for a push on Aaron Ramsey by Tarkowski as a cross came into the box. In last season’s home game Alexis scored a 97th minute penalty to seal a 2-1 win.
It’s fair to say that these fixtures are going to be tricky, however our home form this season has pretty solid, considering the turmoil the club is going through.
13 from 15 points wouldn’t be a terrible return.
Arsenal Home Form:
W 10 D 2 L 2 GF 36 GA 17 GD 19 Pts 32
We’ve scored at least twice in every game (except Newcastle, Man Utd and City) and kept 6 clean sheets. However, in Top 6 clashes we beat Spurs, drew with Liverpool and Chelsea, and lost to City and United – predictably average results by Arsenal’s traditionally shoddy Top 6 standards.
It’s no secret that our Away Form this season has been abhorrent:
Arsenal Away Form:
W 3 D 4 L 7 GF 15 GA 22 GD -7 Pts: 13
That’s only 13 points on the road from 14 games. We failed to score in 5 of those games, and only kept a clean sheet in 3 of them. More than half of our goal tally came in the wins at Everton (5-2) and Palace (3-2). We let in 2 or more goals in 7 of those 14 away goals.
Considering we have historically been strong away from home (perhaps due to the frequently hostile atmosphere at the Emirates?) – this season’s shocking results on the road are particularly troubling.
Here’s a look at our upcoming Away fixtures:
Brighton (2-0); Leicester (4-3); Newcastle (1-0); Man Utd (1-3); Huddersfield (5-0)
- We beat league newcomers Brighton fairly easily (2-0) at home last October, however their home results are pretty impressive. They have only lost at home to City, Liverpool and Chelsea, winning 5 and drawing 6. We have knocked them out of the FA Cup twice previously at their home ground – in 2015 (3-2) and 2013 (also 3-2). Brighton’s final 5 home games include Arsenal, Tottenham, United and Leicester – so they are going to be digging in their heels. (They are above us in the form table: P6 W2 D2 L2 GF9 GA10 GD-1 Pts8).
- We were the only team to beat Leicester twice in their miracle season, and we have beaten them in both home games since then. 1-0 in April last year, and 4-3 back in August, in one of the most thrilling games of this season – Lacazette scoring on his debut with a 2′ header. Last season’s fixture ended in a well-contested 0-0 draw. Leicester have been decent at home – I’m expecting a tough match.
- We haven’t lost to Newcastle since November 2010- and have beaten them in the last 6 games. The last time we played them on Tyneside in 2015, we won 1-0 through a Coloccini own goal. Great on the road, but their home form has been dismal.
- Man Utd beat us at home (3-1) in December. Super-sub Giroud rescued a draw for us (in the 89th minute, assisted by the Ox) last time we played at Old Trafford. They’ve lost their two last home games (Newcastle!, Spurs) – but they don’t tend to lose to Arsenal in Manchester. Oh… and Mourinho.
- We thrashed Huddersfield 5-0 in November, with Giroud (2), Alexis, Ozil and Lacazette on the scoresheet. Their home form has been pretty dire, after a great start to the season. I believe we have the quality to beat the recently-promoted side.
Two wins, two draws and a loss. 7 from a possible 15. Which means that, combined with the 13 points I predict us getting in the home fixtures, we will add 20 points to our current tally, leaving us on 65 points for the season. That would be our lowest ever under Wenger, and only the 4th time we have scored below 70 points in a season.
Arsenal League Position and Points under Wenger*Projected
Manchester City had 65 points after 24 games. They would have beaten us with 14 games in hand!
If you think things are bad at the Club right now – I predict a meltdown of sorts when the season’s curtain drops.
The numbness that fans are feeling right now will wear off, and I think the anger will return, unbridled and vociferous. If Wenger won’t resign, then he will have to be sacked, and the implications of that are tremendous: no sending-off parade, no statue, and how will he ever be welcomed back to the Club to which he has dedicated half of his adult life?
Arsenal is in crisis, and how it deals with it lies squarely in the hands of its embattled Manager.
Only Wenger has the power to put us out of his misery, by doing the right thing this summer: falling on his sword, and hoping that there is enough goodwill left in a fractured fanbase to ensure that he can still visit the Club he loves after he has abdicated his throne.
Paul Hepker (aka invinciblog/batmandela) recently returned to South Africa after a 16-year stint in Hollywood, where he plied his trade as a film and TV composer. He adopted Arsenal in the mid-80′s, and if it doesn’t start behaving soon he’s going to send it to boarding school.
As an ardent Gunner propagandist – he has contributed a number of tongue-in-cheeky images to the Goonerverse – one of which is bound to get him into trouble at some point.