By Walter Broeckx
One could say that some of the results went our way last weekend. Of course the best result we have seen looking at the league table was Manchester United losing at home to WBA. We will play WBA at the final day of the season so let us not underestimate them. The good thing is that WBA now seems safe and can relax a bit till the end of the season with having secured their place in the PL for next season.
But that result now means that Manchester United are 2 points behind us and we have two matches in hand. Of course 2 matches in hand does not automatically mean that you have 6 points on the table as you still have to win your matches yourself but it sure is more comfortable this way than being in the position of Manchester United.
If we win our match at Hull today then it would mean that we are 5 points in front of Manchester United. If we then win our next home match against Swansea we would go to United and supposing United win their next match with 5 points advantage and 1 match in hand. We could then secure at least 3rd place at Old Trafford. A draw would take us out of their reach then.
But Manchester United have to travel to Crystal Palace and they are not that easy to beat at home since Pardew took over halfway the season. So with the form Manchester United is showing they could make it even easier for ourselves and we might be out of sight even before we go to Old Trafford.
And I think since the win in the FA cup and our win at Manchester City the believe that we can win in Manchester is back.
Talking about Manchester City. Yesterday they won at the old home of that former Middlesex club. A result that was greeted with mixed feelings to be honest. I don’t want Tottenham to win any match but I didn’t want to see them lose this match. One could say of course that St. Totteringhams Day has now virtually arrived but theoretically they could still overtake us if we would lose all our 5 remaining matches and they win their last 3 matches. And then we still would have to lose with high scores and they would need to win all their matches with scores also.
But to end this debate the best thing we can do is just to win our match at Hull today. Even one point would be enough to see St. Totteringhams Day celebrated today but given the PL table it would be better to take all 3 points of course.
But today might be a difficult match. Maybe one of the most difficult of the remaining fixtures. Hull is a team fighting for survival and as they have shown in the last weeks they are not that easy to beat. So we have to be alert and ready to play at our highest level. In the first match against Hull this season at home in the league we were cruising till the ref decided to be blind and allow Hull to score from a clear foul on Flamini. That bad decision has cost us two points at the end.
But that was in the days we had lost players like Özil, Giroud, Koscielny… a complete backbone in the central axis of the team. We do seem better on that front compared to those days now. In the days of ‘the worst Arsenal start since the Dinosaurs lived on the planet’ that now has been turned around in to we didn’t have so many points at this stage of the season since 2010.
What is a bit worrying is that if Hull reverts to a “we will kick you no matter what to survive” approach we might see a few players ending up with injuries. Lee Mason is a typical home referee who allows a lot of kicking and it would be terrible to lose a player now as it would mean that he would be out probably for the rest of the season. So we can only hope that we can avoid that happening but if they really want to kick us I expect no help from the ref. He might prove me wrong and I would be very happy if he did. But not counting on it to be honest.
For good order I will give the fixtures we still have in the PL as I write this article.
- Hull away
- Swansea Home
- Manchester United away
- Sunderland Home
- WBA Home
What I like a lot of this fixture list is that we have the chance to settle things in our home matches. I think if we win those matches at home, we are at least 3rd in the league.
Now of course I would want us to finish second in the league and stay unbeaten for the rest of the league season +1 match. That one extra match being the FA cup final of course. But as results in the last weeks have shown, not one match can be taken for granted in the PL. So lets hope our players are ready for this match and continue the fine run they are having since a few months.
As Wenger said, a strong finish will reinforce the belief in the team for the start of next season. Even with the PL title being decided we still have a lot to play for and I hope that our players realise that now is not the time to relax.
From the Anniversary Files… Arsenal on this day
4 May 1935: Despite losing 0-1 at home to Derby on the last day of the season George Allison made it three in a row for Arsenal under three different managers. The defeat meant Arsenal equalled the club’s all-time goal difference record of 69 set in 1904. A draw and they would have beaten it.
4 May 1976: Bertie Mee left his post as manager. He managed 539 league games – the largest number of any manager until Arsene Wenger came along, and won three major trophies, as did Chapman and Allison. But his win percentage of 44.71% was only 10th best, and worse than them but also Howe and Neill