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  • Our destiny is the Double?

     

    And so we have 12 games to destiny. If my prediction of 86 points is correct for the title then we can lose 2 games there and still come out champions. Strangely, the same can be said of the Champions League. We can potentially lose one of the ties in the QF’s and the semi’s and still go through.

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    A win over Unai Emery's Villa will be crucial to winning the mindgames

    That leaves us 8 games to destiny. We then must win our other five games in the league and the other three in the Champions League. We can have no draws although in the Champions League there can be extra time and penalties. The only true statement that can be made is that if we win all 12 matches we will have completed a double that no Arsenal manager ever really came close to. It will be an astonishing turnaround for an Arsenal side regarded as too soft and struggling for money against richer sides which meant the quality of our players since the Invincibles has steadily declined. We have had to punch above our weight to get this far. It will be a great achievement for a young manager and still a young team.

    Are we stronger this season?

    What has made the difference this season to last? Last season was a strange one. Most of the top teams struggled and there were three new teams ending up in the top four from the previous year, ourselves, Newcastle and Man Utd. Only really Arsenal and City were truly competing for the title and we all know what happened. The soft underbelly of Arsenal was exposed. We fell apart. The fact that the other teams struggled gave us that second spot.

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    Is Declan Rice the single biggest improvement this season?

    This year is totally different. Now the competition is intense. The five teams at the top are collecting points as easily as you get your courtesy points filling up at your local petrol station. Both Tottenham and Villa could get 70 points or more and all three at the top 80 or more. This will be a record. So I need to answer the question I posed at the start of the previous paragraph.

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    Havertz has answered all the questions

    I believe two factors have come into play. It is difficult to say what the most critical is. One is the advance in years of the players, the new maturity of Odegaard, Saka and the rest. The second are the new players Rice, Havertz, Raya and Timber plus Jorginho and Kiwior who came in January 2023. Rice has become key, making Partey a bit player, but crucially helping a strong defence to become the best so far in the league. Jorginho and Havertz have added guile, the ability to create space, find a crucial pass and set up the conditions for goals which Declan Rice also contributes to. Goals are coming from everywhere which makes Arsenal a difficult team to mark or control.

    Has Raya made a difference?

    Raya is a difficult one to assess. If Ramsdale and Raya were outfield players Ramsdale would get on the pitch regularly the same as, for example, Trossard does, and we could make a comparison. The only thing we can say is that Raya has secured his position. Arteta trusts him to fit into his pattern more than Ramsdale. I have to accept that.

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    Arteta believes in Raya

    Kiwior seems to get better with every game and I feel he will secure that position. He makes the defence better. Timber looked incredible at the start and he could be a superstar of the future. He will probably get some game time now that he is back training. He surely fits exactly to the template that Arteta wants. He has ball ability, he seems to fit into a team structure, and being Dutch, is used to playing to the pattern of the team. If fit, I believe he will cause strong competition next season.

    The toughest year ever?

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    These two sitting in the Emirates? Incredible!

    So, last year was weak competition, except for Man City, and this year is much tougher. We are in the world’s premier club competition as well, the Champions League. I would be, strangely maybe, happier with the Champions League as we have never won it. I would still go crazy if we win the league. And the double? Well, that would be whoopy de doo, whoopy de doo and the best year for me since we won another double without expecting it in 1971. Arteta and the players have given us this dream in April. Thank you very much. But I’ll thank you a lot more if you give it to us in reality in May. Lots of my dreams have been fulfilled since I became an Arsenal fan but for masses of you out there this will be the most magical ever if it happens. It will be for me.

     

    Update to the Table of Doom

    Table of Doom

    Fixtures

     

    Current

    Max

    Arsenal

    Villa (h)

    Spurs (a)

    71

    92

    Liverpool

    Spurs (h)

    Villa (a)

    71

    92

    Man City

    Villa (h)

    Spurs (a)

    70

    91

     

    And so it switches again as the mighty Arsenal are back on top. We are still the bookie’s third favourite as City are serial winners and Klopp has pushed them hard for many seasons. We do have the metric of goal difference in our favour but not much else, probably. Next up is Villa at home, one of our tricky ones, whereas City have Luton away and Liverpool Palace at home. Anything short of a win sees the Table of Doom switching again, of that I am certain.

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    Jorginho could be crucial over the next games

    However, I feel that points will be dropped over the next seven games so even a defeat doesn’t kick us out. I still reckon that my prediction a long time ago of around 86 points is still valid but the consistency shown over the past while by the top three is almost frightening. Our most important players are Saka, Odegaard, Rice, Gabriel, Saliba and White, in my opinion, and an injury to any could just drop us enough points to give the others the chance to win. But this week, with the other two almost guaranteed wins, means we frighten them by winning when they are hoping we drop points. Let’s send Villa home crying and render the Pool and City wins unimportant. We can do it.

     

     

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