However, this time last year, the Gunners were actually 5 points off the top-four this time last season, after 23 games played and in a bizarre fixture conundrum that sees them face a run of games against very similar, if not the same, opposition.
Arsenal’s last league game against West Ham showed some promise of a late revival of manager Arsene Wenger’s minimum objective of making the top four this term. They beat the Hammers 5-1 at the Emirates last Wednesday in a strangely similar fashion as they beat Blackburn there last season.
The Gunners beat Rovers 7-1, ahead of fixtures with Sunderland, Tottenham, Liverpool, Newcastle United, Everton, and Aston Villa.
Their next 6 fixtures this season as we come to the end of January are against Liverpool, Stoke, Sunderland, Aston Vllla, Tottenham, and Everton. The only difference is Stoke for Newcastle United.
Last term Arsenal won all 6 fixtures and, as Spurs fell away, Arsenal clinched the third spot, which all season long had looked out of reach.
However, whilst Gunners’ fans will feel there are reasons to be optimistic going into their next 6 games in what will likely be a season-defining phase of the season for them, they can no longer rely on the sensational form and quality of Robin van Persie and, under Andre Villas-Boas’ management it’s hard to imagine Spurs will perform as poorly in the latter stages of this season.
De-ja vu and spooky co-incidences aside, these next six games will certainly be their most crucial point in the season. They beat the Hammers on the back of two very poor performances and disappointing defeats to Manchester City and Chelsea.
They host Liverpool at the Emirates this Wednesday and it’s crucial for the manager to put out his best team and steer them to take all three points off the Reds – should they fail, the consequences could be disastrous for the manager who is still yet to bring in anyone this transfer window.
If Liverpool win, they will be level on points with Arsenal and certainly feel, now that they’re out of all the domestic cups, they have to go or top-four all guns blazing.
Wednesday night’s fixture is possibly the most important game in Arsenal’s season so far – they have, simultaneously, a fantastic opportunity to build momentum and belief but, should they fail, they could be in for a very disappointing spell through February and into March.
Can Arsenal go on a winning streak and overhaul Spurs?
image: © wonker