It could have been a great weekend.
At halftime Villa was losing and Man United and Chelsea were tied. Then Stoke took the lead and in an instant visions of Arsenal vaulting ever closer to the top started churning in my mind. Villa’s comeback was annoying, but I found myself cheering on Bolton, the team I’d hated so intensely last week. As time ticked by it all seemed too good to be true, Man United and Chelsea dropping points, and then it all came to an end. A defensive error by Bolton and Tevez found Berbatov.
I felt like kicking the poor dog lying by my fireplace. And then … word came of Chelsea’ s miracle comeback. Bloody Hell. All my hopes and dreams came to naught. Well, at least Everton came back and forced a draw on Liverpool. There was a little consolation.
What this does mean is that the Gunners are six points out of first place (nine if Man United wins their game in hand)? Several weeks ago they were ten points back, so they’ve managed to slide back into contention.
However, the big game for the Gunners is next week’s clash with Everton at Goodison Park. Everton have managed to hang around on the edge of the title race, much like Arsenal, and probably have visions of finishing in the top four. A loss and all the good work the Gunner’s have done over the past weeks could come to naught. A win against Everton would boost their confidence and perhaps take them ever closer to the top. Following Everton the Gunners have a long stretch of games with teams they should beat, teams who are almost all vulnerable to relegation. Looking over the fixture list for the next two and a half months one can see that Arsenal could challenge for the title if they play consistently and if their players really lift their games.
What is encouraging is that several players appear to be finding their form. Van Persie and Nasri are playing well, Bendtner is suddenly producing, Sagna is looking like he did a year ago, Eboue is reproducing his form of a year ago where he only gave the ball away outside the opponents box rather than giving it away in his own half as he did a month ago … Eduardo could even be on the bench this weekend, the Arsenal defence never panicked against Hull as they have in recent months, Andrei Arshavin could even be a Gooner soon (maybe … hopefully …), Djourou has helped the Arsenal defence deal with high balls, Rosicky and Walcott could even be in training soon. In other words there are some encouraging signs.
We’re almost through two-thirds of the transfer window and Arsenal have yet to purchase anyone. They’ve sent two of our youngsters out on loan, there are rumours that they may purchase a Hungarian youngster (Arsene Wenger can never resist buying a teenage prospect), and there are constant rumours of the impending purchase of Andrei Arshavin. We also now hear that Man City may turn to Arshavin if the Kaka offer falls through. In other words they need to finish the purchase as soon as possible if they are serious about buying him. We’ve yet to hear any solid rumours about Arsenal buying a defensive midfielder, a purchase I feel is necessary.
One can only hope that they start concluding deals as time is starting to run out. They are only six points back right now with a string of winnable games approaching. It’s more than possible that this motley group that struggled in October and November could challenge for the title. They just need to keep winning.