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Arsenal Hits a Home Run

As if in readiness for the rest of the month Gooners are given this weekend off. There`ll be no St. Valentine`s Day massacre headlines, good or bad, involving us this year. But Monday the 16th heralds a run of 4 home games this month, over 12 days, in 3 different competitions that could go a long way to determining much of our fate this season. At the very least players and fans alike will be spared the dubious delights of away travel, devoid of early morning starts - plus the food and drink bars at the Emirates may enjoy a mini-boost to their economies. It's got to be a good month for some.

It was in February of last year that a season that had looked tantalisingly like bringing some silverware started to come undone. We went into the FA Cup match against ManU last year, also on the 16th, in a very different frame of mind to that which we will take into the replay against Cardiff this time around. With our title prospects last season looking promising and a challenging CL tie against AC Milan in front of us, the FA Cup was a sacrifice we could afford to make back then. Our performance on that day suggests that was pretty much the mentality of the players too. An attitude which received it`s inevitable reward.

We had gone into the ManU game in good form with 4 straight wins. In contrast our contest against Cardiff is heralded without a win in the last 4 outings and our title challenge already beyond us in any realistic sense. This time the FA Cup matters. The first leg of our CL encounter against Roma is sandwiched between two home PL games against Sunderland and Fulham respectively. The cup defeat to ManU precipitated a sequence of just one win in the following seven matches, albeit the win was the hugely impressive victory over Milan at the San Siro. Say it quietly but the next few games could just take us into March this time around with a different mindset.

As if to complete the mirror symmetry with last season, Eduardo, whose season was cruelly cut short in the game away to Birmingham in February, could find himself returning to the team in the same month. A successful outing for Croatia last night, along with the absence of Adebayor through injury, adds encouragement to that thought. While Eduardo was taken away from the team this time last year we reverse that experience with the anticipated introduction of new signing Arshavin. He is ineligible for the Cardiff match and also the CL encounter but should feature in at least one of the PL games.

The need to qualify for the CL next season will keep us focussed on winning as many PL games as we can but our only chance of silverware is in the cup competitions knowing that the outcome of knockout cup competitions can be influenced by many factors outside our control. Fortune plays more than a passing role in these contests. Decisions, the run of the ball, the luck of the draw, penalty shootouts a myriad of things can go wrong or right on the night. But the one factor we can try to influence ourselves is our attitude in these games.

Coming through this month with a series of wins under our belt could have a direct impact on the attitude we take into March. Diametrically opposite to the collective state of mind with which we embraced March of last year. It should also allow the return of Cesc and Walcott both with something to go for over the remaining months of the season.

We`ll need to hit this February`s home run as hard as we can in order to give us the momentum we need to take as much as we can out of the season. Once again, whisper it softly, but I sense an opportunity here. Let`s hope the players sense it too.



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The Journalist

Writer: Amos Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday February 12 2009

Time: 4:40PM

Your Comments

Good article Amos, I have a feeling if we can take 12 out of the next 12 people might just start worrying about the gunners as a force again. As long as Eboue jumps off a building!
Chipo
The flip side is that Villa have a run of 6 tough games now. We then get our own tough run-in towards the business end of the season. I say Villa but our focus should actually be on Chelsea now. Nigel Winterburn said the other day that the team needs to win something to find it's identity, something we all agree with. Without Cesc, Roma will be a tough proposition for us I feel.
Gooner_Vin
Gooner_Vin has said what I was going to say! If Villa come through February unscathed, we're done for. If they don't, we have to be there to pounce. But we've dropped a lot of silly points this season and that has to stop now. The greater myriad of attacking options at our disposal enthuses me, particularly as our defence looks much better. But ultimately, we've put ourselves in a position where it's not in our own hands.
Little Dutch
I still think we are chasing Chelsea now rather than Villa.
gunnerkid107
GK, i don't think we're chasing anyone. We're chasing 4th.
ArsenalRob
do not forget the return of Rosicky, he'll be our main player in the final two months..
luckys_10
My assessment is that we have to win in all these games, with players (specifically Arsh, Eddie, and Theo) coming back and hitting form. With momentum and a healthy squad, I'd fancy our chances against any other team.
TPowell
Villa is far from unreachable. Especially when you look at their coming games one might hope the situation will be very different in a month.
Fabby69
i think you guys could catch either us, liverpool or chelsea. but i wouldn't say that any of our next 6 games are un-winnable by any means. in fact, old trafford is the only one that makes me nervous. there's a lot of confidence in our side, right now. i just hope it stays there. best of luck!
benji_starsky_avfc
the good news is liverpool always tend to buckle at the final hurdle, chelsea are far from on form and villa? well, how long does a good run last? lets just hope their bubble pops sooner rather than later. with all that, i would say that wenger is still eyeing 2nd rather than 4th. and its well acheivable too.
lifeisagooner
I think the Chelsea game will be a big decider for us...But agreed, things will look different at the end of February. If we can get 2 wins against Chelsea and Stoke I think it's ours to lose.
los_angeles_villan
great article amos. i think we can usurp any team in the top four with the exception of utd. realistically any of the top four spots would have me contented for this season. but the FA cup is surely our main trophy target this year. champs lge might still be beyond us this season.
supersof
I'd be quite happy for Arsenal to end up in the top four but at Chelsea's expense rather than Villa. Unfortunately for both Villa and Arsenal, the overpaid hasbeens in West London will now probably get a bounce from new manager syndrome. I hear he's getting a million quid a month. That, if true, sums up much of what is wrong with Chelsea and their malign influence on English football.
BBJ
LD has it right - if Villa come through Feb dropping less points than us, then we're quite screwed. Chelsea will have a few good results with Guus in charge, and their players are also taking a good look at themselves. I'm optimistic about the FA Cup and I think thats our most realistic chance, so I do agree with Amos who raises good points in the article. I'm not so optimistic about the CL, coz Roma is the in-form team in the Serie A at the moment (I know its a Cup competition and anything could happen, but current form does count, to an extent) and our new signing, Arshavin cannot feature. So I do wonder where the mid field creativity is going to come with Song, Denilson & Diaby. However, its now time for us also to look at the positives, as there is some good news coming through the club in recent times. I'm most looking forward to watching Dudu back in action, even more so than the debut of Arshavin.
prits
I just have this bad feeling that Hiddink will do extremely well for Chelsea, he'll turn their malaise around and they may well get back to seriously challenging for the title. And Villa's running on pure self-belief and hunger right now, difficult to see them drop too many points. I'm trying to keep the hope alive but I am finding it hard. I just hope for the best in the FA cup. The CL? Like someone already said, Roma are superb right now.
jaelle
Villa just need someone to take the stuffing out of them
shewore
Hopefully we can raise our game and make these home games, winning games for us starting with a goal feast on Monday against Cardiff. Fingers and everything else crossed!
hackneyval
Oh, another thing with Chelski having a part-time manager, maybe we can outdo Chelski?!
hackneyval
On the face of it, Villa are in better form than Arsenal and we just have to hope that their good luck run stops at some point but it might not. I like Hiddink, he is a smart and efficient who knows how to get the best from his players so I feel Chelsea will be fine. I don't see Liverpool crashing spectacularly to finish outside the top 4. In any case, It's up to us to be in a shape to pounce if any of these 3 teams slack off. This could take us into a final deciding match on day 38. The Arsenal at the moment look like a terribly unbalanced side. I am just so disappointed by this season. I was looking for a small improvement on last season and we have actually regressed. People will say it's due to players leaving (Hleb, flamini etc..) and injuries. I disagree. This is football. Every club loses players thru departures and injuries. The job of the manager is to plan for these situations and respond adequately. Wenger has failed in that sense. Noone can expecte while building a successful team that no player will leave and no player will get injured.
Gael-Force
I hope Wenger reads gooner blogs... He's done a magnificent job over the past 12 years but he's becoming complacent. Maybe he has no money to field a strong squad and therefore relies on cheap youngsters. If that's the case I'd like the club to be honest about it saying 'we are being prudent while the flats are unsold or while the stadium is being repaid' rather the usual assertions that 'we have monet but there is no player out there Arsene judges good enough to improve ur squad'. Well we'll see if they are happy to miss out on the CL golden goose. How much more was Flamini asking? They should have paid the boy.. he is not a great player but he was integral to our dynamic and allowed our great players to play better. And we let him go on a free...
Gael-Force
if any of you arsenal fans live in USA, where you watch the arsenal games other than FSC, they don't show enough arsenal games.
collow
Setanta Sports shows the most Arsenal Games by far.We get a HOME GAME against Sheffld untd for the quarter finals. We just have to win these winable games against Sh!tfield untds and burnley.
Youngest in Charge
..as they showed today Villa are very much a beatable side....not at all like an ominous werewolf some men are trying to make them out to be.....
Tambling
To be honest, I've the feeling Villa wilfully dropped the Cup and won't be too bothered about defeat today. I'd rather they'd have won personally, plus even if Villa drop points, we hardlylook like winning enough points to capitalise. What we definitely have to dois look at the cup draw and look upon the competition as a massive, massive chance now.
Little Dutch
Dont forget, our bad run last season kind of started with our willful dropping of the FA Cup to ManU. Lets hope the same happens to Villa this season. I didnt watch the game, so I dont know if their defeat was as comprehensive, although the scoreline doesnt seem to suggest that. Lets beat Cardiff first, but I believe that the FA Cup represents our most realistic chance for a trophy.
prits
 

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