Arsenal Current 74 Max 95 Man City(a) Newcastle (a) Brighton(h) 7 games left
Man City Max 94 Brighton (a) Arsenal (h) 8 games left
Man Utd Max 83 Brighton(a) Tottenham(a) 8 games left
Newcastle Max 80 Tottenham(h) Arsenal(h) 8 games left
Brighton Max 76 Man Utd(h)Man City (h) Arsenal(a) 9 games left
Tottenham Max 74 Newcastle(a) Man Utd(h) 7 games left
And so it was a mixed time in the Table of Doom. Man City are surely a live danger and we most likely cannot afford any slip-ups. Newcastle and Tottenham lost and now the Spuds have virtually no chance of catching us. Brighton won but even our point made it harder for them. A win at Southampton on Friday means both will be gone from the table leaving only four left and guaranteed CL spot, the first team to do so this season. I just hope that reaching that goal, probably our real target at the start, will not cause the players to relax. Newcastle and Man Utd will be next in our targets. That 77 may well be enough for second as it stands, particularly if the Spuds teach the two of them a lesson. Go the Spuds!
The Spark was kindled by Manchester City
This week my focus is on what it takes now to be champions. Three of our group understand this, the imports from Man City. You can throw in Jorginho as well. The arrival of Jesus and Zinchenko seemingly ignited this belief that we could do it. We need them to reinject that spark. It is there to be won, still.
This is our template
Ice cold water in their veins?
What if I told you Arsenal showed the grit of champions in the last 2 matches against West Ham and Liverpool? Coming back with a dominant display in the last 30 minutes to score 2 goals and rescue a point from being 2 goals down? Playing extraordinary football the likes of which any team would be proud of? Yes, I have to turn the matches on their head to come to this conclusion but if we do, we say Arsenal are fighters to the end and that is what will make us champions. We would be disappointed with the result but far less with the display.
Jesus: A Brazilian warrior has come to us
One thing is certain, we have struggled for consistency. We rarely play strongly for 90 minutes and we have got a lot of goals and wins late on. Scoring early for us seems to make us fall asleep. Young teams always struggle for consistency, it is well known. If I was to pick out one in particular it would be Martinelli, who looks electrifying at times then drifts out of the match. I also question Jesus’s positioning, playing way too deep to make an impact on the scoring. He seemed to be having difficulties with getting bashed about as well against West Ham and was taken off, but I for sure would have taken him off earlier. I suspect he has picked up a knock.
Zinchenko: the guy who said we could win it
A Frenchman out and we are out?
Saliba out has been our biggest loss of the season. Holding has mistakes in him. He needs to improve to make the defence a wall again. Maybe he can but if not we will leak goals, I feel. If Saliba comes back soon, say against City, he might steady the ship and bring stability to the team.
A Spanish demon who knows how to win
There is no doubt in my mind about one thing, serial winners learn to move on from setbacks, and that is the true hallmark of champions. 2 away draws at tough grounds are not so bad really. We just need to start winning again and City will know they are in a fight.
City also know how to drop points
But can they also drop points? Well, let’s take a look at their PL wins over the past years. Last season they had this: over the last ten matches they had 3 draws at Palace and West Ham away plus Liverpool at home. The previous season: lost at home to Chelsea and Leeds plus Brighton away. 2019 they won all. 2018 drew to Huddersfield at home and lost to Man Utd at home. 2014 they drew with Sunderland at home, lost to Liverpool away and drew with Arsenal away. 2012 lost to Swansea away, and drew with Stoke away and Sunderland at home. They rarely manage a clean sweep.
The mentality monsters were very fragile in the run-in to the league
And what about Liverpool, the mentality monsters? In 2020 they lost to Arsenal, Man City, and Watford away plus drew with Burnley away and Everton at home. The last ten games are generally nervy for all teams. These statistics show that. Squeaky bum time as Fergie used to say.
Inject ice into our veins
The only certain thing is that if either us or City win all their matches they will win the league. Arteta will be aware that he must keep the players positive, try to introduce an icy steeliness into their veins that when you have a team on the ropes, you knock them out. You show no mercy. None should have been shown to Liverpool or West Ham. Stand on their throats when they are down. Arteta knows what happened at City in 2019 when they won all 10 of their last matches. He helped them do that. He has to replicate that ruthlessness at Arsenal. He has to pick the players up and crucially, get them to keep their form for longer in matches. We seem to get into pretty but ineffective keepball when in front instead of killing them with attacks.
Will the Saints guarantee us Champions League?
And so we are looking at Southampton. It, like I suspect all our matches from now on, are must wins. Getting to 77 points may mean some of the nervousness dissipates as CL is assured. Or it could mean the opposite as I have suggested above, and we relax. We all need to believe, the fans, particularly those at the ground to push the players on, the staff, and above all the players. A team that can make Liverpool look like donkeys can win this league, and that is the team we need. Let nervousness be banished. We are Arsenal.