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On our way to being Champions? Newcastle A Burnley H Brentford A Wolves H Luton A Villa A Brighton H Liverpool A West Ham H Fulham A And so here we are again, trying to figure out where we will be after the next range of matches without knowing what players we will have available, what traumas can happen, and the same for our opponents. One thing we will know is that the transfer season won’t reopen until after our match against Fulham away as that is on December 31st. So, unless something happens to our fixture list and games get postponed, we don’t have to worry about Liverpool or maybe Villa buying Kane, Bellingham and Mbappe and giving us all the jitters. Now, as regular readers know, I generally get to within three points of our final tally and this time was no different. See here for the last one. The good news was I was three points less this time so we gathered 3 extra points courtesy of Man City which I did not predict. Thank you Pep. So we are still on target for the League with 24 points and the nerves I had about Champions league have not resulted in defeats for us. Long may that continue. Tough away matches could be key Of course, looking at the list is always intimidating. The strange thing about the prediction game is that if we lost or drew any of these games individually, even Luton or Burnley, we would not be too shocked as bad results happen every season. We would be shocked if we lost or drew all, though. But Newcastle, Brentford, Villa and Liverpool away are a big challenge. Even our super confident predictors among ASCB would find it hard to put down 4 wins there. But this time, in a change to my usual format I have drawn on my great colleague and editor of this blog, Dani Georgiev, to give his parallel predictions and we will see how we get on. Neither of us saw the others forecast first so we went in blind. The last time I opined that 86 points is the minimum needed to have a chance at winning, being Man Citys lowest winning total. I reckoned that this season could be more competitive with teams taking points off each other bringing down the total points needed. Of course I could be very wrong. But let’s take a look at what we need over the rest of the matches. We have 24 so that leaves 62 over 28 matches, meaning an average of a little more than 2.2 points per game. Frightening, yes? That is the reality and 86 may not be enough. To break that down over these ten matches it means we need almost 23 points to keep us on target. 47 points has to be the aim. Bash the little guys Now, I always emphasise that you must put away the lower teams. That means for sure Burnley, Wolves, Luton, West Ham, and Fulham. That gives us 15 points. Brentford and Brighton? Always tough but I think we need to beat them. It gives us 21 points and that means only 2 needed from the 3 away stinkers. Experience tells us that we will drop points. Experience also tells us that many of them cannot be against the 7 mentioned as lower teams. Put them away crying to the home patches is the safest answer. So can we beat Newcastle away? Only an idiot would feel so but I think we can, on the basis that Eddie Howe’s team have been a bit unpredictable but are certainly playing a more attacking style than last year. That will give us openings. We don’t like a team parking the bus. Newcastle won’t do that at home. Martinelli and Saka will need to be at their best but I fancy an 0-2 for us. 27 points for us. Dani Georgiev has gone for 1-1 and certainly that would be a good result but 25 points. No thumbs up, Eddie Burnley at home? They have had a stinker but such matches can be good for struggling teams. Arsenal away is a relief from pressure. Keep us quiet and sneak something is what they will hope for. They are not expected to win and every team drops some points against the lower ones. But I feel we won’t this time. Arteta and Kompany may be mates but I am going for a nervy 2-1 and 30 points. Dani goes for 4-0 and 28 points. Brentford away? This could be a very difficult match. They don’t get beaten at home and I feel that they won’t here either. 1-1 and 31 points. Dani goes 2-1 to us so we are now equal on 31 points. Why are you so difficult, Thomas? Wolves at home? If they turn up with their fangs bared and we are stuttery this could all go wrong. They have a habit of winning games they are not expected to and this year it is our turn. 1-0 to the Wolves see us drop our heads, lose our unbeaten record and are still on 31 points. Dani cannot see the stutter and he goes 3-1 for us and 34 points as he pulls away from me. Oh, no, eaten by Wolves Luton away? By this time Luton have garnered some points, are playing a bit better but their home advantage works against them as they give us an early goal by trying to win the match. These games are always dangerous because bottom teams are expected to lose. We play rubbish and that early goal is all we manage and it is one nil to the Arsenal. 34 points. Dani sees an easy win 3-0 and 37 points. Villa away and the second stinker. Newcastle was kind but this one is not to be. Unai Emery gives us a headache and they win 3-2. We are still on 34 points. Dani does not see Villa get that extra goal and he sees 2-2 so he pulls away again at 38 points. Unai Emery is a happy man Brighton at home and Robert de Zerbi’s teams are always tough for us. We have not played well for the past 3 games and this one is no exception. We go behind 2-0 and we are looking on in frustration as time ticks away. Until the 80th minute and Havertz the sub scores a lucky one, only his second so far. It lights up our team as Nketiah zips in another. We are rocketing the ball about like crazy and in the 99th minute, yes, it’s true, Havertz scores again. 3-2 and 37 points. Dani predicts 1-1 and drops back a little to me at 39. Havertz has two goals Liverpool away and the previous result helps our confidence as stinker number 3 comes up. Klopp’s boys looking to put us in our place at home over Christmas Their season has been pretty good and they are winning most although not always playing well. Anfield is not a place teams go to win but we have our best performance of the season, playing fast, sharp football and Jurgen wishes he had Martinelli and Saka. They play like demons and he is shellshocked by our two nil to the Arsenal in a repeat of 1989. 40 points. Dani speculates on one nil to the Arsenal and 42 points. Yes, that's the right face, Jurgen West Ham at home over Christmas and they can be a tricky side for us but our boys belief has skyrocketed. Declan Rice runs the show and we end up 1-0 to the Arsenal in a game we dominate. 43 points. Dani sees lots of goals and 3-2 to us. But now 45 points. Finally, Fulham away on the last day of the year. We owe them for the indignity of the draw earlier in the season at home by giving them a nice beating of 4-1. We get 46 points. A little less than we need but puts us in with a chance. Dani sees us winning but a much tougher match and again he loves that one nil to the Arsenal. He finishes up with 48 points which is a little more than we need. Dani, being an optimist, sees the unbeaten run continuing. No, no smiling after your team get hammered, Marco And so I have gone for 2 losses, a draw and the rest wins. 3 out of the 4 really tough away matches yield 7 points and we haven’t done badly despite losing form in the middle. But we now need to pick up an extra point at least in our remaining matches. We can do it, you know? Up the Arse!
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.