After being knocked out of the Carabao Cup in last night’s dismal display against League Cup bullies, Manchester City, Arteta and his bruised Arsenal team will have to pick themselves and dust themselves off for a brutal festive season and a tough start to 2021.
Londoners find themselves in strict lockdown for the foreseeable future, and with foreign travel severely curtailed, will have to explore virtual alternatives such as those offered on this site to satisfy their getaway urges. For the players calling the red part of North London ‘home’, however, there is no “Get Out Of Jail Free” option. They will have to hunker down and face the music – which is starting to sound more and more like a Christopher Young soundtrack.
Here’s a look at the upcoming fixtures – and it isn’t reassuring for a side that seems to be falling apart at the seams as it slides down the table into new, unexplored territories .
ARSENAL v CHELSEA
Saturday 26 December 2020
First up – a Boxing Day derby against Chelsea, whose 3-0 triumph in their big London derby corrected recent losses to Wolves and Everton. Second only to Liverpool in the Goals For department, the Gunners may struggle to keep the Blues in check – especially at home, where results have been disappointing to say the least.
Shell-shocked Gooners, fresh from watching Theo Walcott celebrate at the Emirates, may well have to brace themselves for a Giroud goal-fest, as 2020 continues to deliver its despicably predictable sucker-punches.
BRIGHTON v ARSENAL
Tuesday 29 December 2020
Three days later, and Arteta’s men make the short trip south to Brighton – a coastal fortress where Arsenal is concerned.
You would have to travel back in time to the 4th October 1981 – yes, Nineteen-Eighty-One! – to watch Arsenal beat Brighton on their home turf (at that time, the old Goldstone Ground) in the top division.
On that day, Arsenal’s John Hollins supplied the winning goal. Arsenal and B&H Albion’s last five encounters have produced the depressingly Welsh LLDDL…Draws to Fulham and Sheffield have given Brighton a couple of much-needed points as they fight relegation. Losses to Leicester and Southampton were not entirely unexpected. Drawing at home to Liverpool, however – a game which they could have won, if they had converted their chances – shows that they are unlikely to simply roll over to a team only 2 points and 2 places above them in the Premier League table.
Four banana skins for this fixture. Feel free to add an extra skin if Arsenal lose to Chelsea.
WEST BROM v ARSENAL
Saturday 2 January 2021
With 2021 barely underway, Arsenal travels north to face their second Albion in 4 days: West Brom have their backs against the wall, and that doesn’t bode well for the Gunners. Trounced at home by Villa in their last match -their first under new gaffer Sam Allardyce – it’s easy to forget that West Brom managed to walk away with a well-deserved point at the Etihad a few days before.
West Brom’s new manager bounce combined with Arsenal’s new manager doldrums could see the Gunners ringing in the New Year with a loss. The January transfer window is an opportunity for the Gunners to add some creativity to their impotent arsenal – but relief is unlikely to come soon enough, and if they slip up against Chelsea and Brighton in 2020’s dying days, this might be a bridge too far for Arsenal’s powers-that-be, and Mikel Arteta could find his brief and volatile managerial career swiftly curtailed as KSE cut their losses.
I’m giving this game a 3-skin rating for now. Add an extra skin each for losses against Chelsea and Brighton.
There are no easy games in the Premier League – that’s a well-worn cliché – but Arteta is facing a very slippery slope as he battles to carry Arsenal to higher ground. If he loses these next three games that would mean that the young Spaniard will have lost 11 of the 17 premier League matches he has overseen this season and surely even his most ardent supporters would have to accept that his appointment was a dismal failure.
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