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Where can we finish? Last try 2023. Arsenal 99 Liverpool(a) Man City(a) Newcastle (a) Brighton(h) Man City 94 Liverpool (h) Brighton (a) Arsenal (h) Man Utd 86 Brighton(a) Newcastle(a) Tottenham(a) Newcastle 83 Man Utd(h) Tottenham(h) Arsenal(h) Brighton 81 Man Utd(h) Tottenham(a) Man City(h) Arsenal(a) Tottenham 79 Brighton(h) Newcastle(a) Man Utd(h) Liverpool (a) Liverpool 78 Man City(a) Arsenal(h) Tottenham(h) The Ladder of doom Every week I will update the table from last week showing where teams can finish if they win all their matches. I will delete the ties above with the current top seven when they are played and I will delete teams when they can no longer catch us. Tottenham drew and are now just above Liverpool. My prediction that the Spuds can get Champions league is now looking rocky. Conte is surely sacked and it is hard to see what they can do now. Let's hope they keep him As always I take on the extraordinary task of predicting all our matches to the end of the season. 10 games against teams playing for something, winning the title, European football or relegation. We also have 2 more London derbies. Points may be hard to come by and a bad spell could happen. I am an optimist, though. This team seems to have learned how to win. They are well drilled and the additions of Jesus, Zinchenko and Jorginho incorporates players who know how to get over the finish line. We have a great chance and are deserved favourites, even though I am sure most football fans feel that City are a monster that can come back at anybody. We play who? Arsenal fixtures: Leeds (h) Liverpool (a) West Ham (a) Southampton (h) Man City (a) Chelsea (h) Newcastle (a) Brighton (h) Notts Forest (a) Wolves (h) Winning against the teams we are expected to beat – Leeds, West Ham, Southampton, Brighton, Forest and Wolves gives us 88 points and if I was right last week that City would get 87 then that would be enough. We absolutely need to beat these teams, send them home crying and get the points in the bag. But let’s take a look at what we have to do. Leads at home. I will be there and surely this is a must win for us. I have a good record at the Emirates and a comfortable 3-0 would make me happy. 72 points and some of the teams above are moving further away. A tough spell starts Liverpool away and they seem to up their games against the good teams. This could be tricky, so, but if we work hard, push them to the limit I can see at least a draw. 1-1 and 73 points. That gives us 97 max but Liverpool only 76. If they drop points at City the previous game they are effectively knocked out of catching us even if they have a barnstorming finish to the season. This is the face we need at the end of the game West Ham away and another London derby. But we seem to specialise in those at the moment so long may it continue. Sometimes we struggle against them but I am hopeful this time. Arteta knows all about David Moyes so I hope we are prepared. I see a 2-1 and 76 points. I suspect at this point up to 3 of the above won’t be able to catch us. Champions League is secured. Southampton at home and I have been at a few of those. We have always won when I was there and I wish that to continue. A nervy 3-1 but the belief is coming for us. 79 points and I reckon only the two Manchesters are left to hit us. The catch-up demons are upon us And next up Man City away. We have been superb away and City always give us chances. A big problem, though, even in this season, has been converting chances. If we do so we can win. I can’t bring myself to predict a win but a 2-2 draw is what I foresee. Assuming City have been perfect up to now they can now get 92 max and we would be on 80. Man Utd might well be out of sight by then so second could be guaranteed. This is the face we need at the end of the season Chelsea at home and I fancy this one. We seem united and they seem disjointed. Probably Graham Potter can make them work, if he gets the chance, but for now they are struggling to put together consistent performances and I feel we can outwork them. 83 points and I am sure Man Utd are gone by this stage. Second achieved. Nuke Hassle? Big Hassle Newcastle away and we all expect a tough game. Eddie Howe has done wonders with them but for certain some of the players are not really top drawer. They will buy in the summer and could challenge next season. I would love us to win but maybe a draw is what we will get. They defend against the big teams even at home and we struggle against defensive minded teams who have quick forwards. 1-1 and 84 points. Eddie Howe will make it difficult Brighton at home and this could be difficult. Our nerves will be jangling as City could well be very close to us at this point. But we need to win this. I would take a lucky 1-0 all day long. 87 points and we have hit what I said last week will be Man City’s final total. There is even a chance that a win here could seal the title. This match is maybe the earliest we can do it in any sort of reality. I would love us to have won it by now That leaves Forest away and if we have won the title then I think the superman effect will be enough to put them away back to Sherwood Forest hiding in the trees. 3-0 in that scenario but if we need this one then the stress might get to us and a 2-1 defeat may leave us needing to beat Wolves at home in the last game. Please attend our last game, Arsene That will be pressure. Can our young guns do it? At home, with Mr Wenger attending, I hope, we take all of the season into our hearts, the good wins, the bad defeats, the scandalous VAR decisions, the draws, the chances missed, Gary Neville and the negative media, and we suddenly find our feet, the football becomes glorious, the movement and the interplay becomes wondrous, and 4-0 sends Man City down into the depths of bleak despair. We need Arteta to be at his best Yes, I am being optimistic, but I believe that this team believes. Players such as Jorginho and Trossard have come in seamlessly. Holding, if he gets an extended chance through injury, should get better every time he plays. The last time he had a long run before he got injured against Man Utd at Old Trafford, he was one of our best players. I hope the same happens again if we need him. Players generally need a run of games to find their form. Those eyes say you believe, Mikel One thing we have going for us is that City have to play lots more matches than us and some very difficult ones if they progress in the Champions League and FA cup. Even Man Utd have the pressure of Europe and the FA cup looming. I think, If we put away the smaller teams we have a great chance. Our biggest danger is a bad spell now. We can afford up to 3 defeats and probably still win the title. We need to be able to bounce back from even a couple of losses and find our game again. I believe, I feel the team believe, and this last ten games could be when we need Arteta the most. He must never stop believing. Listen to me, Mikel, we are Arsenal. We always come back. We can do it. And I will be there at Wolves to celebrate. I believe you won’t let me down.
Any Arsenal superstars out there? Can we match these boys? Ramsdale, Turner Tierney, Tomiyasu, White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko Partey, Xhaka, Lokonga, Vieira, Odegaard, Saka, Jesus, Martinelli, Smith Rowe, Nketiah, Pepe, Balogun Arsenal are the greatest football team Can any of our players become world superstars of the calibre of great names such as Messi, Ronaldo, Cruyf, Beckenbauer, Pele or Maradona? Or eclipse our own great heroes such as Brady, Jennings, Bergkamp, Henry, Vieira, Campbell or Adams? Today I will take a look at the possible candidates (above) and see where we are, at the moment, in such aspirations. I am going to choose from the list above and I reckon there are some surprises there. I will list those you probably will jump on first, Turner, Pepe, Balogun, Nketiah, Lokonga, Vieira, and maybe even Jesus and Zinchenko. Our Best Chance? A world superstar is a player universally recognised as a supreme exponent in their position, someone, who, if any fan were compiling a list of the world’s best team at the moment, would definitely include them in their deliberations. They have to have built up a body of work to achieve that position, titles, international achievements, etc. None…Yet Now, I don’t want to rain on any Arsenal fans parades but none of our players are currently in that position. Some may be heading that way, though. One big change over the past two seasons has been that we can no longer easily say who our most important player is. Saka has been our best, for sure, over the past few seasons, but now? Is Jesus, Odegaard, Partey, Xhaka, Ramsdale, Saliba or Martinelli more crucial to our success? This is the great thing about this emerging team, I can talk seriously about the notion that some could move into the realm of the huge names mentioned above. Surely Saliba is Dynamite? Ok, let’s look at the players. Ramsdale and Turner in goal. Ramsdale needs to grab the England position and keep it for a long time to even dream of being a great in the line of Zoff, Banks or Buffon. He also needs to win titles and global awards. I am not sure where he is in Gareth Southgate’s mind but certainly not number one. This does not apply to Turner, who seems to have cemented his place as US keeper with 20 appearances, and he has got impressive awards such as goalkeeper of the tournament Concacaf 2021, winner of that cup as well, and MLS keeper of the year 2021 among others. This boy might surprise us, I believe he knew the risk coming to Arsenal and challenging Ramsdale, so do not write him off. Nor Ramsdale, if we become a major title winning team over the next few seasons and he grabs that England place. Beasts at the back? Kieran Tierney has all the talent in the world but seems injury prone. 34 games for Scotland and first choice if fit but it is at Arsenal or another top team that he will need to make the transition to world great as Scotland are not a world power. He would need to stay fit and improve. A maybe? Maybe. Super Tom kept Salah in his pocket Tomiyasu – again Japan are not a world power but this guy is good. He is first choice for Japan with 29 appearances and he is one who could do it. He put Mo Salah in his pocket recently. At only 23 this guy could make it. White – the argument against Ramsdale is the same, he needs to force his way into Southgate’s squad and win big trophies for Arsenal. Just about young enough at 25 to do it as some players careers blossom late but becoming a true world great doesn’t seem likely, I’m afraid. But he may still turn out to be top class and just below the level I am talking about and that would do me. Saliba – now here is a player who could do it. 7 appearances for France and I feel they will never let him go. He could be the rock on which both teams rely. Yes, this guy could do it. Gabriel – At 24 still young enough if he can get into Brazil’s team and eliminate his mistakes, sometimes partnerships make centrebacks and Saliba may propel him into the super league but at the moment the level I am talking about seems questionable. Zinchenko – 25 years old and 52 caps for Ukraine but unlikely to win a tournament with them. Let go by City when he should have been in his prime. Probably never to be a world great but very useful and top class. Monsters in midfield? Partey – at 29 is not going to make it into the pantheon. Prized by Ghana although surprisingly only 40 caps. Has won titles with Athletico Madrid and hopefully with us but below world class unless he suddenly turns out to be a true demon. Xhaka – at 30 almost the exact same applies to Xhaka but an astonishing 106 caps and counting for Switzerland. Maybe this attacking role could finally propel him into superstar mode but it is a maybe. Lokonga – too early in his career to say. Needs to force his way into the Belgian and Arsenal teams and stay there. Some of the things he does show possibilities. Vieira - same applies. Odegaard-On his way to the top? Odegaard – would be helped if Norway can play well in big tournaments. But this boy could do it if he wins big at Arsenal. One of our strongest possibilities for this prize. Animals in attack? Saka – our star boy really could do it. Huge competition at England but I believe he will nail down his place. Big chance. Jesus – Body of work for Brazil at 56 caps and 19 goals plus being let go by City in his prime seems to indicate that he is not the next Pele. Needs to become a beast. It’s possible. Maybe he could become the next Pele? Martinelli – Still only 21, he is starting to push his way into the Brazil side. This boy really could do it. I hope it is at Arsenal. Any ogres among the others? Pepe, Smith Rowe, Nketiah and Balogun are imponderables. Time is running out for Pepe but I believe he has tremendous ability. If he got in the right side that suited him he could yet blossom. The other three all have great ability. Goals will make them. They have all shown an eye for goals especially Smith Rowe in a Lampard role, if he could equal Lampard’s goal scoring record, then the sky’s the limit. To me he is the best of that bunch. And of course, young players such as Patino could come through as well. So, I would say our best possibilities are Saliba, Odegaard, Saka and Martinelli. If they go on to do it and stay with Arsenal, of course, I would say Man City and others would need to buy big to stay with us. 4 true world class players like the players named at the start, and the rest almost so, would make us the best team in the world, I feel. Am I right? I hope so but I would take them being the equal of Wenger’s best when we felt we had a great chance in every tournament we entered. C’mon the world class Arsenal.
Arsenal vs Watford No Cojones at all? We can't hear you, Troy Yes, it’s a derby. Yes, we are far ahead in terms of trophies. And so yes, we are far ahead in terms of wins? Well, not really, they have 12 wins to our 19 and we never seem to draw. Only 2. Lots of colour It is difficult for teams around the capital to register wins because there are so many derbies but Watford have shown that they have little reason to be fearful of us. And of course, they have that 2 famous wins in a row in 2017 which proved their undoing. Troy Deeney famously said we have No Cojones thinking they had found the magic formula to defeat Arsenal. Sorry, but no team has ever found that formula. He must have regretted that as we thought them a lesson ever since then with only one draw in 2019 to show. Don’t make fun of the Arse, Mr Deeney. We will bite you on the bum. We couldn’t find our balls But still, 12 wins, despite rarely being higher than us in the league is a good achievement. They spent a long time away from the top flight, you see, only managing their breakthrough in 1982, so the only way we could see them was in the cups, but they rarely got drawn against us. 3 FA cups was all that happened up to that point and all went our way. 3-0 in 1906, 3-0 in 1910 and 2-1 just when they were starting to come good under Graham Taylor and Elton John in 1980. So we taught them early lessons. Take those 3 away though and you can see a bit of a different picture, now, since they came up to the top it is 12 wins to our 16 and the 2 draws. They have been a tough competitor for us forcing us time and again to show that we actually do have Cojones. They are not a major heavyweight team like Arsenal but make us fight for our wins despite their status. Were we really as bad as this? The Hornets and the gay superstar I want to admit something at this point. There is something likable, for me, about Watford. I loved when they appeared on the scene under Elton John. No major star like him had owned a football club and football when I was young was extraordinarily macho. A gay man, with the maximum paraphernalia of such men, was in charge in the homophobic football world of England. And they were colourful, using to maximum impact their yellow, black and red colours. They played at Vicarage Road which seemed oddly appropriate for Elton John. They were flamboyant, and they were good. I love the tie, Elton And I didn’t really like that because they did the double over us in that first year. 4-2 and 2-1 on their way to being runners up and leaving us behind in a trail of dust. They nearly won the league despite there being 3 teams who had recently won the European Cup, Liverpool, who were on their incredible run of dominance, Notts Forest and Aston Villa. They appeared like a colourful rocket, blazing through the sky and making light of their tiny ground and humble origins. And they also sent us home crying to teach us a lesson that they had arrived, they were in London and ready to take us on. Maybe Troy Deeney was right, even though he wasn’t even born then. Beating Watford requires Cojones. And they showed us we hadn’t got them. Tactics Graham had his testes removed And we didn’t. They came up and kept teaching us lessons but we never seemed to learn. The old first division was their stomping ground and they just kept beating us like an old whipped dog. They played us 12 times – they won 9 times and drew once! OMG, who are these Hornets? We even played them in the FA cup in 1987 with the magical George Graham in charge. Made no difference. 3-1 to them at Highbury. I mean, we are the Arsenal, we have trophies, we have marble halls, we are the kings of London and you are telling us we have no Cojones? And worse, proving it? Watford almost removed his testes Even when they got relegated in 1988, they did the double over us. And we didn’t see them again until the Premier league was in full swing in 1999. We were fully Wengerball by then. We must have grown a set of balls or maybe they lost theirs because we did the double over them and sent them back down. We got them in the Fa Cup in 2002 at Vicarage Road and destroyed them 4-2. They came back up in 2006 and again we sent them back down with a double 3-0 and 2-1. Can Bull Serum help? And so 2015 and their current incarnation as a Premier league team. This time when they came up they had recovered some of their Cojones and sting. We squeezed their balls with 3-0 and 4-0 but they bit ours in the FA cup 2-1. We beat them 3-1 in the next season but then they had their little run which foolishly prompted Troy Deeney to declare we had No Cojones. They won the next 2-1 at the Emirates and then won again 2-1 in the next season. So, in around a year and a half, they beat us 2-1 three times. They thought they had rediscovered the magic formula of their first division years. Is it true we needed this? Eh no, we are Arsenal. We are the boys with the big balls. And so, Mr Deeney, all you have to show is one draw in 2019 since then. Go home crying and try to find your Cojones. I have heard rumours that Arteta, as a student of the game, has been feeding our players Taurine to improve the size of our balls based on what you did to us in the 80’s. He doesn’t want a repeat by any upstart team trying to break our balls. You need balls to score penalties like Arteta Watford have never managed a win against him – long may that continue! And yet I hope you stay up and beat our rivals. The Premier League is poorer without you, your colourful fans, your family orientated ground and your bigmouth strikers!