Match preview: Margin for error = practically zero

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I was listening to the Guardian’s Football Weekly Extra podcast the other day, and Rob Smyth stuck his neck out by stating he’d be “astonished” if Arsenal didn’t win the league this season. A pretty bold prediction if you ask me. You won’t catch me sticking my neck out on such matters – in fact, if there’s a way of sticking your neck in I’ll be doing that instead.

We’re at that stage of the season where if you make the foolish error of looking at the top three’s run-ins – as I did yesterday – you can get a bit giddy.

But the bottom line is there’s still nearly 20% of the season to go and given this group of players’ relative lack of recent experience of title run-ins, we remain third favourites for a good reason.

Besides, if you ask me it’s a myth to think that our run-in is necessarily easier just because we don’t have to play Man Utd, Chelsea or Liverpool again. Looking at the nine teams we have to play, in their current league positions, five of them are looking over their shoulders at relegation and two are vying for fourth. Only Fulham and Birmingham are mid-table, but even the latter might fancy a sniff at the Zooropa League.

The first of the five is tonight at Hull, second bottom and still nursing sore behinds from a 5-1 mauling at Everton.

However, for all their dismality away from home – feel free to use that word again, if you ever need to – their home record is pretty decent. Their two most recent games were a win against Man City and a draw against Chelsea. There’s also an element of previous between the clubs, and who knows what might surface there.

We’re probably without Fabregas and Song is suspended, but the other doubts should make it, and if we can line up anything like this then it’s a side with huge attacking potency. Any sort of voodoo we can perform to ensure Big Sol is fit would also be welcome.

It’s going to be a tough one, I suspect, assuming Hull have focussed their minds since two of their players had a scrap by the Humber Bridge in front of a Women’s Institute rally. I thought I was hallucinating when I read that. Too weird on too many levels.

That’s it for now – come on you reds!


Arsenal since about 1979. Thick, thin and all that.

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Merse-10

    Totally Agree. Playing teams battling to avoid the drop is usually harder than those lanquishing in mid-table.

    Spurs away is always tough, Brum will be tough and Hull certainly will not be as easy as some people are making out.
    Also Wigan away will not be an easy match as Chelsea can testify!

    There are certainly banana skins out there and we need to remain 100% focussed in each and every one of our final games.

    Any sort of win today will do.

  2. 433

    I heard that podcast too. I think Smyth is a non-gooner, so it’s not a case of getting his hopes up only to be crushed.

    If we win the rest of our matches, even if we don’t win the league, I’ll be lovin’ it.

    I like that Guardian line-up. Some more players are coming into form. Let’s smash ’em.

  3. joe malta

    i totally agree with u. it is a tricky one today and unlike the stoke game we had a game in midweek. however wenger knows that we need to stay focussed. if we don’t get the 3 points from this then we can kiss goodbye to the title…. i don’t see man utd dropping more than six points in the remainder of their games. Hull are now desperate and need points. We have to tighten the defence and go for the counters. COME ON GUNNERS.

  4. PD

    433, if we win the rest of our matches we will be Champions.
    I don’t think there’s any doubt about it at all.

    Doing it however…..come on u Reds ! Let’s stuff that orange twat & his bunch of thugs !!

  5. goonergerry

    Rob Smyth was talking nonsense-there are not too many mid table teams with nothing to play for left. We have several key players out-and draws are a real possibility in each game. We will have to win every game and that is a big ask.

  6. RotorGoat

    Good lord, how big was that goal from Bendtner, in the grand scheme of things?

    Huge, huge win.

  7. PD

    Massive,massive,massive win. Didn’t play well too well but who gives a rat’s ass.
    Looking at the fixtures over the next couple of weekends..wins against West Ham/Brum & by the time we play Wolves we could very well be in pole position…..

  8. Sajit

    One game at a time

  9. Stevie G

    Can Sol manage another decade.
    Having watched his performances this season the aura of solidity he provides is very reassuring.His reading of the game is exemplary and his desire as seen post match at Stoke is heartwarming.
    Could be interesting if Gallas is still injured around the time of our visit to the lane..
    Best transfer window signing out there without a doubt.

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