As February comes to an end and March begins, tomorrow marks the start of another massive round of games this month. Tomorrow we have Stoke City away which is always a tough game, then Everton, Bayern Munich, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and finally Manchester City.
If you wanted a tougher month of football matches in a single month, you would find it hard to every find a month as difficult as that.
So a positive result tomorrow is massive. It gives us confidence going into what I like to call, “the month of death”. The experts will come out and say that this month will define our season, and to a big extent it’s hard to disagree. With the Bayern game aside, the others are ones we have to win. For me, if we didn’t progress in the Champions League then it wouldn’t be the end of the world – overturning a 2 goal deficit against the World Champions is a monumental ask at the best of times, so you can’t have a go at Arsenal if we don’t make it. We’ll give it one hell of a go I’m certain, but in terms of realistic trophies we can win this season, our priorities should be the Premier League and FA Cup.
We are only a single point off Chelsea and we need to make sure that gap doesn’t increase in March. Again, that’s a massive ask given the fixtures we have coming up, but not impossible. The must-win games for me this month are Stoke, Everton and Tottenham – draws against Chelsea and Manchester City would not be a disaster.
So do we have what it takes tomorrow?
Stoke City have always been awkward opponents for us and tomorrow will be no different. Mark Hughes has a different style to Tony Pulis, but the side pretty much has the same physical approach. They have players like Peter Crouch, Robert Huth, Charlie Adam, Jonathan Walters and Cunty McCunterson (previous name Ryan Shawcross). And since Mark Hughes has taken over, they’ve had the most cards issued in the league and given away the most fouls.
So don’t think they’ve turned over a new leaf.
Tomorrow will be decided on which Arsenal turn up. To win all 3 points Arsenal need to be aggressive, decisive and give 110%. This is not a game we can play badly and nick all 3 points. Stoke never let you settle and if too many Arsenal players are off their game, we will lose.
Arsene unusually gave the players 2 days off so I think he knows the players need to be both mentally and physically ready for the challenge that faces us tomorrow.
It is one of the most toughest away days the Premier League can offer, so Arsenal need to make sure they’re fully prepared for the battle that awaits.