Recently ArsenalArsenal ran a terrific article, but one which for us fans, was a dire read that underscored where Arsenal were standing with respect to the equivalent fixtures last season. The bottom line: the Gunners were -6 points adrift. From where can they gain those points back?
After the publication of that article, Arsenal kept pace with the next two 2013-14 victories, QPR home and WHU away. Particularly challenging this year was the match against West Ham, who were ahead of Arsenal in the table. How did Corporal Jenks feel, prior to that match, to be above his beloved Gunners? Conflicted happiness? Bittersweet elation? Whatever the case, Jenkinson did not need to play against his mother club, and Arsenal repeated last season’s win, which rearranged the ranking. (If this stays the same to the end, the Corporal should save some therapy money.)
Having registered two consecutive wins, Arsenal had an opportunity to reduce the equivalent-fixtures point deficit: Southampton away, which was a draw last season. This was a match where Arsenal could put themselves back into Champions League contention and build confidence for the remainder of the season. Unfortunately, the team lost further ground.
Now the deficit is -7 points, and there is less than half a season left. Here are the upcoming fixtures, with the corresponding 2013-14 results. (* denotes away games.)
|Queens Park Rangers*||W|
|West Ham United||W|
|West Bromwich Albion||W|
Six opportunities remain for Arsenal to gain points.
Man City away (Loss): Facing the champion in a mid January match, will Arsenal have enough players back and functioning fluently to improve over last season’s result?
Aston Villa home (Loss): The disastrous first fixture of 2013-14. Surely Arsenal will do better, especially after the long break at the end of January.
Everton home (Draw): Everton has not been the force it was last year. Can this be another match for Arsenal to gain back points?
Chelsea home (Draw): I have heard suggestions that Chelsea play for away draw. Is that true? This fixture is scheduled for late April, when the BPL race will be heading toward its final month. By this time, will Chelsea and Man City still be one-two? And will Arsenal have enough to spoil Chelsea chances? My heart says, “Yes,” and my head says, “Would be about time!”
Swansea home (Draw): Arsenal have not had it easy against Swansea lately. Can Arsenal break that trend?
Man United away (Loss): Last season ManU was not a serious contender, yet Arsenal did not manage to get more than 1 point out of 6 against the former champion. So far this season Arsenal have not managed to do better. Do the recent Arsenal teams have a mental block when facing ManU?
Of course Arsenal could also lose points from these six fixtures, but because half of them were already losses, the worst would be -3 points. I’m guessing Arsenal will be +5 points from these six. What do you think?
The remaining twelve fixtures were wins last season. However, there is no guarantee the results will be the same. In fact, Arsenal most likely will do worse in a few. Here are some challenging fixtures:
Stoke home: At home, Arsenal should overcome the rough tactics of their visitors. However, after the disappointment at Southampton, one might wonder. With hope, ten days separation between these two matches (plus a good third round FA Cup performance) gives the team enough recovery time.
Spurs away: Rosicky scored a beauty in the second minute, and Arsenal kept a clean sheet for a 0-1 away win. That most likely will not happen this time around. Will the result be the same anyway?
Liverpool home or in fact any one of those six 2013-14 victorious fixtures: The 2013-14 results arranged in the 2014-15 sequence require Arsenal to win at least six matches in a row. This season, Arsenal have yet managed to win more than two consecutive matches. Even with the notoriously unbalanced schedule of 2013-14, Arsenal longest winning streak was only five. Can this (so far) inconsistent Arsenal team do it?
Pessimistically I believe Arsenal will be -6 points from the twelve remaining wins of last season. How about you?
Of course each season is different, as the surprising Saints demonstrate. Last season Arsenal were only seven points from first place, yet they finished fourth. How will it end this season?