So often the fate of a season comes down to a run of three or four games, slip up during this period and you can undo months of hard work, look at last season for example – in all four competitions, doing well, a couple of bad results later we are left with bugger all.
We have six absolutely huge games coming up. Milan [CL] (a), Sunderland [FA Cup] (a), Spurs (h), Liverpool (a), Milan [CL] (h), Newcastle (h).
It is quite conceivable that two poor performances in the next week could land us on the brink of a Champions League exit and out of the only trophy we have a real chance of winning, the FA Cup. We just have to show up, there are no two ways about it. Our last two results have given us a good platform to build some momentum, contrasting wins that show this side can produce when it matters and can be ruthless when needed to be. We now sit 4th on goals scored, ten points behind Spurs, but only four points off 7th place. Two wins out of the three league games in that set of fixtures I wrote above would set us up very well. Anything less than that would have us staring at a massive uphill task once again.
We could have done with keeping Henry until the Spurs game in my opinion, the fact that he was picked over Chamakh and Park shows just what Wenger does think about his other attacking options – any hope that the African Cup of Nations would provide Chamakh with a bit of confidence has been well and truly buried, our options are about to be significantly reduced with Henry’s return to New York after the Milan game midweek.
His contribution has been noticeable, three goals, two of them winners towards the end of games – the winner against Sunderland on Saturday was a vital, vital goal, and the winner against Leeds equally vital in ending a run of very poor results. There is no doubt his return gave everyone a boost, we didn’t just need a player of quality, we needed the feel-good factor that having that guy around brings – a glimpse back to days of slightly more success. I’m gutted we won’t see him on the pitch against Spurs again – not this season anyway. Who knows what the future holds?
But first, AC Milan. A great club but a team which we should really be beating. The Milan of recent times is not a patch on previous teams, or a patch on the team we knocked out the Champions League a few years ago. Our best chances of getting a result will be utilizing the pace that we have on the flanks, Chamberlain and Walcott must start regardless of Theo’s somewhat erratic form. We need to take the game to them, scoring an away goal or two is vital – we need breathing space for the game at the Emirates, scoring an away goal piles pressure onto Milan – keeping it tight at the back goes without saying.
So, time to perform. Come on Arsenal, show us this season isn’t as much of a wreck as it seemed to be a few months ago.