Writer: Brice Coffer
Date:Sunday February 1 2009
This summer, when we all got a first look at the new schedule for the 08/09 campaign, we saw the extremely tough run of fixtures we had received near the end of the season. Now after a frustrating season, to say the least, a quick look at those said games would seemingly be even more daunting. But I think for three reasons we will thrive in the difficult circumstances and go on to secure Champions League footy next season.
First, an in-depth look at the schedule for all the top five teams is needed. Today Liverpool pulled ahead of Chelsea with a controversial 2-0 win, and this makes them a more likely contender for Manchester United, though I doubt they will put up much of a fight. The next fixture between two of the top five teams is on February 21 when Chelsea go to Villa Park. After that the next game is between Liverpool and Manchester United at Old Trafford in the middle of March, and the next weekend Aston Villa go to Anfield. Arsenal do not have to face another top 5 team until the 18th of April. So this is how the rest of the schedule works out
Aston Villa v. Chelsea 21/2
Manchester v. Liverpool 14/3
Liverpool v. Aston Villa 22/3
Manchester v. Aston Villa 4/4
Liverpool v. Arsenal 18/4
Arsenal v. Chelsea 9/5
Manchester v. Arsenal 16/5
I see this as an advantage to Arsenal because they will surely take points off each other and then we have the chance to put our destiny in our own hands by beating our rivals. We must, though, keep in touching distance until that time. This leads me to my second point; If we can stay close to the teams above us until the point when we have the chance to take points off of them, then this Arsenal team will do something it has done all season, step up when our backs have been against the wall. Arsenal's best performances this season have come when we needed to beat the best teams. For example, we dominated Manchester United and made their defense look silly at times. Since our two minutes of consecutive possession that climaxed with Nasri's wonderful second goal, the Mancs have yet to concede. This shows us that we can play with the top teams, and I have faith we will do it again.
My last, and most important point in my opinion, is that by the end of the season we will most likely have our very best players back to compete with these brilliant teams. Arsene said that Eduardo is two to three weeks away from first team action, Cesc is out six to eight more weeks, Theo another five weeks, and Rosicky eight more weeks. If all goes well, these four players will be back in time for the first of three matches against the Sky 4 on April 18th. Now knowing Arsenal's medical staff this might be a pipe dream to have them all back, but even just having three of the four would do wonders to the teams quality as well as the sides confidence.
Hopefully this all indeed works out in Arsenal's favour, but as I said earlier, the team must stay in the race with good performances against middle table and bottom half teams for any of this to matter. With the imminent arrival of a certain Russian, I believe we can indeed do it. COMMON ARSENAL!!
Date:Sunday February 1 2009
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