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A tight race is on, good home form will be required

By Walter Broeckx

If there is one good thing about this midweek fixtures then it is the fact that they are the ideal way to get rid of the disappointing result from the weekend. We had a bad day and several key players were below par.

It can happen but it was rather painful to see it happen over there. But that is football and maybe we were a bit too high after our last fantastic home win against Aston Villa. Thinking it will work out again and then dropping off even 10% can be costly as we found out.

But the players have a good chance to make up for it. And we can only hope that in the future the players will be even more focussed on the job and most of all just play better.

The number of times we got possession and then gave the ball away deep in our own half was staggering to see. And even when not under pressure our passing was too many times off the mark. And this was the case for many players. Too many players.

But the weekend is over and we have seen some other amazing results. Manchester City only snatched a point at home against Hull a team in the bottom three. Only in extra time Man City could score against Hull and this shows that each and every opponent in the PL is difficult; so take note Arsenal players for the visit of Leicester!  We will have to be at our best and perform as we can.

Southampton also scored a late winner at QPR in extra time. QPR another team in the bottom 3. So again a good warning that it will not be easy unless we take our chances early on and perform at our best.  Leicester themselves only lost by one goal against Crystal Palace. A win that gives Crystal Palace a bit of breathing space in the battle to survive in the PL.

So playing teams from the bottom 3 is not as easy as it looks at first sight. A team battling for survival can cause upsets. So we will have to be sharp from the start and impose our game on them. And take our chances when they come.

After looking at the other results of the teams who are fighting for a place in the top 4 it is amazing to see that there are only 7 points difference between the team in place 2 (Manchester City) and the team in place 6 (Arsenal).  And if Liverpool can win against Tottenham at the same time we play Leicester they could also have 42 points and we would have 6 teams within that 7 points gap.

In the case of Liverpool winning or a draw we could jump up to 3rd place level with Southampton again. Southampton who have to play West Ham on Wednesday and West Ham also are a team that could still dream of getting in to a place for European football next year. West Ham United missing out on a win against Manchester United last Sunday after they conceded a goal in injury time.  Lots of injury time goals it seems that decided the outcome of the matches in the weekend.

The other teams in that little group don’t have the easiest of matches. Manchester City going to Stoke is not the place you want to go when your form is not the best. As mentioned before Liverpool – Tottenham is a match that when the home team doesn’t lose will be a good result for Arsenal. Southampton – West Ham is a match where you wouldn’t mind our ex-player Song being on song.

The only team apart from Arsenal who have a more easy match ON PAPER is Manchester United who play Burnley at home. But as I said about our own match: there are no easy matches. As Burnley is just above the relegation zone and so will also be battling for survival.

A good win with more than 3 goals could take us up to 3rd place if some results going our way. But to do that our players will have to improve on what they did last weekend. We could do ourselves a big favour and try to score some early goals and then do like we did against Aston Villa and outclass our opponents. But playing too casual like we did at times this weekend cannot be allowed.

We don’t know yet if Alexis could and will be involved. I wouldn’t play him if there was the slightest doubt about his fitness. I think we should have more than enough in our locker to beat Leicester even without Alexis. And there are plenty of games to come in the next weeks and as the CL is coming back at the end of this month we sure could do with an Alexis being top fit and if possible in top form.

And talking about injuries I think that if all goes well Jack Wilshere will be back in full training from this Monday. After his serious injury sustained against Manchester United it will be good to have him battling again for a starting place. I hope he will be on fire from the start and lets keep our fingers crossed that he doesn’t end up being kicked to pieces again.

And as the manager said we still have 8 matches to play at the Emirates. So it will be vital to make our place a fortress for the rest of the season. And only 6 away matches and it will also be vital to dig in and get as many points as possible from those fixtures. And as there are lots of teams in contention for a top 4 place there will be many twists and turns from now till the end of the season. Let the loss of last weekend be the final wake up call.

Players and managers: we are counting on you! COYG

 

18 comments to A tight race is on, good home form will be required

  • Tom

    Walter
    Good and honest assessment of our performance against the Spurs.

    Some posters said that if we had matched their intensity and physicality, we would’ve finished the match minus one or two players.
    I disagree, although this is always a possibility when Atkinson is in charge.

    I was happy to see Arsene complain about the referee after he had admitted our own subpar performance. A quick look around my News Now agregator,and it seems that my view on the subject has been vindicated.
    Not a single headline or article discribing Wenger’s comments as whining or being a sore looser.

    Be honest about your own performance , and you will get away with criticizing referees. You might get fined by the league , but that’s just the cost of doing business and being the manager in the PL.
    Personally , I couldn’t care less if the fines levied against the managers who complain about referees go to some worthy charities, or are being used to pay for drugs and hookers for pleasure of league officials. You still do it. That’s the only way to protect your club and players, regardless what you may or may not do behind the closed doors through the legal channels.

    I also agree that we should have no problem finishing in the top four.
    Man U have been lucky on some occasions ( against us most notably) to get results and I’m not at all impressed by them.

    Southampton , I’m impressed with but I doubt they can last the course.
    Liverpool and Tottenham have been giving us problems with their high pressing , but they are less impressive against lesser opponents.

    Bring on Leicester City and God help them because Wenger is angry. We always play better when Wenger is angry.

  • Gord

    There is scarcely any news about referees on the weekend, most seems to be about the Colback incident. Halsey has taken exception to Wenger thinking there is a problem. However, I believe Halsey is one of the people who believe that a fair amount of physical play not of the shoulder to shoulder nature should be part of the game. This probably includes “he got the ball”. So, Wenger (and many of us) are seeing things, according to one with a warped sense of the laws.

    Do do hope this was just a 1 game blip.

    Reminder, the U21 (including Gnabry and Bielik) play at Newcastle tonight.

    In the writeup about the people out on loan, it was nice to see they are using a picture of Wellington not completely bundled up in a winter jacket.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Tom,
    I keep my conclusion about the ref for the ref review 😉

  • bjtgooner

    A nice article Walter and you are correct, we need a good home record for our remaining league games and we need to pick up away points – all despite the antics of the PGMO.

    Against Leicester earlier in the season my memory is that they indulged in a fairly brutal approach – under the “control” of Anthony Taylor – the result was that we only managed a draw. This time we need the three points.

    The performance and bias of the ref cannot be separated completely from how we play – but basically we need to play well enough to beat the PGMO and the opposition 11 players in nearly every match – not always easy. Regretfully, I expect more of the thug approach from Leicester and others.

  • Gord

    Something must have happened to Bielik, not on the starting X1 nor on the bench.

    Under-21s to play Newcastle United: Iliev, Smith, O’Connor, Dobson, Bola, Kamara, Maitland-Niles, Zelalem, Crowley, Gnabry, Iwobi

    Under-21s subs: Huddart, Wright, Chatzitheodoridis, Eyoma, Lipman. We’ll bring you all the updates from 6.55pm (UK time)

    The above is the twitter feed at

    https://twitter.com/arsenal

  • ThomB

    I did not expect the spuds to keep up that intensity for 90 mins and i dont think the players were prepared for it either. I think it was the sheer intensity that forced our players into errors and resulted in unforced errors. I still think we will finish a disappointing 3rd but with a bit of luck am optimistic about our chances in the champions league

  • Gord

    U21 news.

    Goal for @Arsenal Under-21s! Alex Iwobi cuts in from the right and smashes a low strike into the bottom corner (37) 1-0.

    That should be Lwobi’s 4th goal in all appearances (16) this year.

    Alex Iwobi 0 0 0 0 6 1 7 + 2 2 0 0 13 + 2 3

    Someone at Arsenal.com has goofed. There is a Dan Crowley, and a Daniel Crowley in the statistics. 🙂

    Oops, we also have: Jon Centeno, Jon Centento, Jonatas Centeno.
    Tolaji Bola, Tolanji Bola

  • Gord

    U21 news.

    Goal for Newcastle United. @Arsenal Under-21s fail to clear Armstrong’s cross and Barlaser volleys into the far corner (56) 1-1

    COYG!

  • Gord

    U21 news.

    Goal for @Arsenal Under-21s! Lipman rises highest to head in Eyoma’s cross (90) 2-1

    COYG!

  • Gord

    U21 news.

    Game over. Win for Arsenal.

  • Gord

    In reading the Arsenal report on the game

    http://www.arsenal.com/match/report/1415/post/under-21/under-21-newcastle-1-2-arsenal-report

    I ran across this:

    > With Chris Willock, Kaylen Hinds, Stephy Mavididi and Ben Sheaf representing Arsenal Under-17s at the Al Kass International Cup in Qatar

    Hmm, something to look up? Note, the tournament is still on. They are just out of the group stages, Arsenal play tomorrow against River Plate.

    AC Milan
    Aspire International
    Aspire Qatar
    Paris St. Germain
    Juventus
    Arsenal
    Read Madrid
    Sao Paulo
    Athletico Madrid
    River Plate
    Vissel Kobe
    Schalke 04

    Four groups of 3
    A
    Arsenal
    Aspie Academy
    Vissel Kobe

    B
    Aspire Intl
    Real Madrid
    Schalke 04

    C
    AC Milan
    River Plate
    Juventus

    D
    Sao Paulo
    PSG
    Athletico Madrid

    Date
    No Teams
    THURSDAY 05 FEB 2015
    1 Arsenal vs Vissel Kobe Score 3-2
    2 Schalke 04 vs Aspire intl Score 0-2
    3 AC Milan vs River Plate Score 4-3
    FRIDAY 06 FEB 2015
    4 PSG vs Atletico Madrid Score 3-1
    5 Vissel Kobe vs Aspire Academy Score 1-6
    6 Real Madrid vs Schalke 04 Score 4-1
    SATURDAY 07 FEB 2015
    7 Juventus vs River Plate Score 0-2
    8 Atletico Madrid vs Sao Paulo Score 1-2
    9 Aspire Intl vs Real Madrid Score 1-0
    SUNDAY 08 FEB 2015
    10 Sao Paulo vs PSG Score 5-0
    11 Aspire Academy vs Arsenal Score 0-3
    12 Juventus vs A.C. Milan Score 2-2

    End of group stage

    A
    Arsenal 2 2 0 0 6 6 2 +4
    Aspire Acad 2 1 0 1 3 6 4 +2
    Vissel Kobe 2 0 0 2 0 3 9 -6

    B
    Aspire Intl 2 2 0 0 6 3 0 +3
    Real Madrid 2 1 0 1 3 4 2 +2
    Schalke 04 2 0 0 2 0 1 6 -5

    C
    AC Milan 2 1 1 1 4 6 5 +1
    River Plate 2 1 0 1 3 5 4 +1
    Juventus 2 0 1 1 1 2 4 -2

    D
    Sao Paulo 2 2 0 0 6 7 1 +6
    PSG 2 1 0 1 3 3 6 -3
    Ath Madrid 2 0 0 2 0 2 5 -3

  • Mandy Dodd

    ThomB, third may disappoint some, but with the injuries , decisions and considering the finances of some with whom we compete, third would not be the worst, at all. The two who will most likely finish above us have survived on others money for many years, and have owners who absolutely demand success. We have survived on our own means, and rightly…or wrongly……and here I can at least both views even if I don’t agree with some aspects of them, for whatever reason, Stan Kronke is not the demanding instant success type in terms of trophies at least. Not in the way RA and city’s owners are. And we still do not know the full story of financial restrictions that have been placed on wenger at least in previous years, and maybe even now, and perhaps with this man of class , loyalty, and discretion, we never will.
    I agree on the Champions league, cannot see us winning it, but think we will at least beat Monaco, and then, take down a giant, or a seriously moneyed team, perhaps a Brit team. That takes to…..semis? Anything can then happen ……..on a level playing field of course, should we be given one.

  • Gord

    According to the Daily Mail, Bielik was called to train with the first team today. Which is why he did not play at Newcastle.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    I do hope that whatever ailed the team over the weekend has been dealt with and that they start fresh and ready . We have to restart our earlier form and start picking up the points again.
    If we play as well as we can ,we should be okay . A clean sheet would be a bonus .
    A 3-0 win for the Arsenal , would cheer me up no end ! Come on guys , make us proud !
    Up the Gunners !

  • Saint

    Mandy
    Dont think kronke demands any sort of success apart from finishing in the top 4 .Which in turn makes him money.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Maybe Saint, if you are right, that is a bit of a shame. Pressure and demands can bring out the best of an organisation, as long as it is not unrealistic compared to resources. But I know Wenger has higher ambitions than fourth these days, the CEO is at pains to constantly state he does, and so are the players. So even if you are right about Mr Kronke, we should have enough to out flank him.

  • ob1977

    @Saint, makes him and the club money, in order for us to pay off debt and keep us competitive, or unless we don’t use money, the stadium is paid off with sand, and players accept sweets generously donated by the tooth fairy, and we just give all the money to Kronke…

  • Saint

    ob1977
    If he didn’t take money out of the club we would be more competetive and surely have a higher chance of challenging for major honours and not just chasing 4th place year after year.Surely that is what we all want unless you are happy with mediocrity.