As we enter Monday, we sit in 3rd position in the Premier League, with Chelsea 1 point behind us and Tottenham 2 points behind, although they both have a game in hand. And they still have to play each other, so Champions League football next season is firmly in our hands.
I think the best way to put Saturday’s performance was that “we battled” for the 3 points, and at this stage of the season that is the most important thing. Although Fulham went down to 10 men early on, we found it difficult to break them down and it took a set-piece for us to open the scoring. Even then, we found it hard to add to that slender lead and Fulhm, to their credit, probably deserved something from the game.
But we left with 3 points, a clean sheet and put pressure on Chelsea and Tottenham going into their Sunday games.
Unfortunately, Manchester City showed why they are well adrift of Manchester United in the race for the title in a 90 minutes that summed up their season. They were good for the majority of the first half, playing some really excellent attacking football (most of it through Carlos Tevez) but in the second half it was clear they weren’t bothered and allowed Tottenham back into the game. The frustrating thing was that if they were more clinical they could have been out of sight in the first half an hour but the comeback probably means Tottenham now have the “mental strength” and “confidence” to kick on for the remainder of the season.
And at Anfield, Luis Suarez gave us a life line. Wanting to live up to his reputation as a biter and hand ball expert, we duly did both, attacking Ivanovic and conceding a needless penalty. However, despite being possibly the most annoying footballer since Ruud van Nistelrooy, he still managed to score a dramatic goal with the last touch of the game. Whatever you say about him, this guy is never boring.
So that leaves us with Champions League qualification in our own hands.
And even though we would have loved for Tottenham to have lost yesterday, the flipside of their win is that Manchester United, barring a miracle from Villa, will win the Premier League title tonight. Going into our game with them on Sunday, that isn’t the worst thing. Of course, they are a professional club but you would think that they won’t be playing with the same intensity as they would be if they needed to win at The Emirates to seal the title.
Hopefully, they’ll still be celebrating and have their eye off the ball, so to speak.
Just a final word on Arsenal – Giroud got sent off for a needless challenge in the final minutes, meaning he will miss some vital games for us going into the run in. For me however, that isn’t a bad thing. With Giroud as the main attacker he has been isolated and found it hard to score goals. Playing a game or two with him out of the side, and trying find other players to fill that void will help us in my opinion. We over-rely on him sometimes and forget to try and find other solutions. If we had Giroud available for United, I feel it would be playing into their hands.
Anyway, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter.