The pessimist’s guide to Arsenal’s away run-in

Anyone who knows me, or has read this blog over the years – an admittedly dwindling band – will know that I’m not one of life’s natural optimists when it comes to Arsenal. It would be fair to say that breezy positivity does not drip from my every pore. Mine deep enough and you will find some glistening nuggets, but if there was a new goldrush, and boundless confidence was the lucrative prize, folk would not hop onto their horses and head west to me.

It’s a defence mechanism of course. Expect something less, then when it happens you’re OK with it, because you’d steeled yourself already. Should something good happen, the high is that much better. It’s a lose-win or win double-win situation [needs more work – Ed].

That’s why, now that we’re at the business end of the season and for the first time in a few years we’ve got something to play for in league terms, a certain pragmatic pessimism kicks in. I know there are plenty of you out there who beam confidence about our away run-in, and I admire you, I really do. But I also know there’s a hefty percentage of anxious types who – even if they’re confident-ish – don’t want to jinx our run-in with needless chest-puffing.

This is for you.

Everton

I know we’ve beaten them a fair few times away over the years, and hit five past them last season at Goodison Park, but Wayne Rooney was really annoying when he was about 12 and scored against us and who’s to say something like that won’t happen again with the latest Everton wonderkid *checks Everton squad just in case*? We also lost there two years ago when Ashley Williams handed us nul points with an 86th minute header. They’ve only lost one from five.

Banana skin rating: 🍌🍌🍌

Watford

Watford used to be our bogey team, and I still haven’t forgiven them or John Barnes for beating us at Highbury in the FA Cup quarter-final in 1987. I’m not a bitter man, you understand, and nor do I hold grudges, but I’m still sour about that all these years later.

Oh, and we lost there last year with another heartbreaking late cave-in.

Banana skin rating: 🍌🍌🍌

Wolves

Have you seen Wolves! They’re a bit ropey away from home but they’ve literally nearly beaten practically everyone at home. They’d put four past Real Madrid if they were in the Premier League, probably. They’ve beaten Utd twice, Liverpool, Chelsea and we were lucky to get a 1-1 at the Emirates. Plus, I remember completing Wolves in my Panini ‘79 sticker book, and I’ve had great respect for them ever since. I’m concerned that Steve Bull might put us to the sword.

Banana skin rating: 🍌🍌🍌🍌

Leicester

Even I’d have been positive about this one earlier in the season, but since Brendan’s taken over there’s a regrettable air of confidence around Leicester, and they’ve now won four league games in a row. We can’t rely on Bergkamp to magic up the perfect hat-trick, which is a blow. It’s entirely possible that they’ve never forgiven us for robbing Alan Smith off them too.

Banana skin rating: 🍌🍌🍌🍌

Burnley

Another side that’s, somewhat frustratingly, reversed its run of poor form. I could wheel out some stereotypes about it being a tough northern outpost, if that helps? In my mind we’ve lost there every season but a cursory google tells me that in fact Sanchez (remember him?) slotted a penalty winner last season in the nine billionth minute. They should be safe by then which will either mean they’ll have one eye on Magaluf, or it’ll mean they’ll be demob happy and playing with all the freedom required. Either way we must avoid a Sean Dyche-shaped revenge job at all costs.

Banana skin rating: 🍌🍌🍌

So  there you go, fellow pessimists. Forewarned is forearmed.