What a rough month.
It all started on the 23rd February, and we haven’t really got back on track. And in retrospect Eduardo’s horrifc injury has cost us so much more than one of our main strikers.
We lost 2 points in that match, because without that incident to Eduardo we would have won the game. Because of what happened we were lost in the first half and by the time the boys got their act together it was half time. The team did exceptionally well to claw the game back but we conceded to THAT last minute penalty.
If we won that match I’m sure we’d still be top of the league.
But what followed was 3 more draws in the league – to Aston Villa, Wigan Athletic and Middlesbrough – all teams we should be getting 3 points against.
And now we stand level on points with Manchester United, who have a game in hand. The hardest thing for most Arsenal fans to except is that only a few weeks ago we were 5 points clear.
But let’s put things in perspective.
Apart from the early part of the December, we haven’t really suffered a rough patch in the league.
And to be leading the Premier League for as long as we have has been nothing short of exceptional. We are currently unbeaten against the Top 4, who we still have to play before the season is over. And despite being in second place in the league, the destination of the Premier League Title is still in our own hands.
Wouldn’t you have dreamt of that before the season started?
It’s better to have a dip in form now rather in April and May. Manchester United and Chelsea suffered a loss in form earlier in the season but now look to be back to winning ways. So I suppose the question is when can Arsenal get back on track?
We face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, and in one game we can dent their title hopes and re-ignite ours with a win. And a win at a place where Chelsea haven’t lost since we played them there in the 2003/2004 campaign would provide us with the catalyst to push on with our season.
We’ll find out on Grand Slam Sunday.
As things stand, the title race is tightly poised.
Arsenal and Manchester United currently sit on 67 points, with the current Champions having a game in hand. Chelsea, who have quietly but impressively won 8 of their last 10 league games now have 64 points, with a game in hand on us. So Sunday is a massive game because if Chelsea win (by 3 goals) they will be above us in the table on goal difference – and if that happens the boost they would get from that would be very damaging.
But we’re still very much in the race.
Even with our bad form, even with some seemingly shocking refereeing decisions, even with some really sh*te football pitches and even with some terrible injuries to the squad.
What Arsene Wenger has done so far is nothing short of amazing.
I do worry about the state of the squad though at the moment.
Clichy, Sagna and Fabregas are simply irreplaceable. If one of those men gets injured we are in serious trouble. Who is the cover for our fullbacks? Emmanuel Eboue and Armand Traore? God help us if those two have to fill in at important times of the season.
And Adebayor has become undroppable. There’s no doubt that playing as a lone striker is one of the hardest jobs in football, and he has done it well earlier on in the season – but right now he is playing badly. Against Wigan, or even against Middlesbrough, it wouldn’t have been a terrible idea to start with Walcott or Bendtner so the striker could have a rest. Playing Adebayor when he is clearly not on form is not the answer. Besides, Walcott and Bendtner have been scoring recently when they’re been playing so deserve a shot.
But despite all this, it would be safe to assume United and Chelsea will drop points before the season ends. After all, they’ve still got some of the Top 4 to play yet. And as we’ve learnt recently, 3 points in this league isn’t something you can take for granted – especially as the teams lower in the league will be fighting for their lives. Every point for them could help them survive in the Premier League so expect United and Chelsea to have some really tough games ahead.
So is there anyone left out there who thinks we can still do it?
Because I do.