After Sundayâ€™s volcanic eruption at Wigan, the dust has finally started to settle. Itâ€™s time to concentrate on the next three games. An attitude the antithesis to the one we saw at Wigan is expected, and letâ€™s be honest, there are bags of reasons why Arsenal will come flying out the blocks. Here are just a few of them.
Motivation number one:
Now, everyone knows that against the top two teams this season we have come away with diddly squat, but thus far the same can also be said of the team currently lying in fifth, Man City, against whom we have lost twice, conceding seven goals in the process. Nobody in N5 wants a clean sweep for the Middle Eastlands moneybags.
Motivation number two:
The presence of a lanky, Football-Focus-interview-giving lackadaisical Togolese will certainly be all the motivation the fans need on Saturday to exercise their right to free speech, and Iâ€™m sure Robin van Persie will want to prove a thing or two having had his head stamped upon. Kolo Toure, once also of this parish, has suggested Adebayor needs to show â€œmore intelligenceâ€ but you canâ€™t switch the lights on if thereâ€™s no electricity.
Of course, the motivation goes both ways as we saw in our 4-2 defeat there in September. Adebayor was fired up to the nines and both Campbell and Silvestre will need to react accordingly.
Motivation number three:
Arsene Wenger himself. The â€˜Wigan episodeâ€™ (as I have now filed it in my head) has looked bad on some of our players but it has looked much worse on Wenger. This week, heâ€™s taken flak for Project Youth, for not spending, for not having the right squad balance, for being stubborn â€“ and a whole lot of things besides.
He was spitting blood post-match at Wigan, accusing his players of a lack of cohesion and discipline, and for Wenger that constitutes as much of a public denouncement as you will ever see. The players will have had it both barrels.
How many of the usual player soundbites have we heard this week? Thereâ€™s been something from Arshavin on the official site â€“ some sponsored thing in conjunction with Nike â€“ but other than that itâ€™s been as quiet as a churchyard.
Suffice to say Wenger will be desperate to put things right. Yes, I know that the bigger picture is not about putting it right just this once â€“ itâ€™s about making sure it wonâ€™t happen again â€“ but for the moment, it really is just about the next game.
Motivation number four:
Itâ€™s a mystery why the players seemed to think there was nothing to play for last week, but if they thought that then they will not think it now. As well as the obvious challenge from Man City themselves, and the in-form Spuds, we could still hit 80 points and that would be a decent achievement in its own right.
And in a World Cup year, the very last thing we need is to have to play a qualifying round in the Champions League in early August. Third would represent a season-on-season improvement but if our ill-timed late-season lull was to extend further and we were to end up fourth, it would leave a sour taste in the mouth over the summer.
No doubt thereâ€™ll be some injury news tomorrow â€“ with Arshavin a possible returnee â€“ and something more to be said from Le Boss.
Right, on we go.
Thereâ€™s everything – well something – to play for!