The Run-In: Arsenal’s Title Push

On the eve (morning?) of the resumption of Premier League play, Arsenal’s looking at a 5 point deficit behind United after dropping vital points to West Brom before the international break. With Arsenal’s confidence waning in recent weeks, Chelsea revitalized and charging up the table, and a game against United waiting, there’s both concern and excitement amongst the Arsenal supporters. These last nine games will truly test the merits of the team that Wenger has poured belief on as well as the faith of the fans, who have had some severe ups and downs this campaign. Can Arsenal win the title? Let’s take a look at the numbers.

The part of the table that matters currently looks like this:
1. Manchester United, 30 games played, 63 points, +34 goal difference.
2. Arsenal, 29G, 58 points, +30.
3. Chelsea, 29G, 54 points, +29.
4. Manchester City, 30G, 53 points, +18.

The schedule of Arsenal looks like:
Blackburn (H), Blackpool (A), Liverpool (H), Sp*rs (A), Bolton (A), Man Utd (H), Stoke (H), Aston Villa (H), Fulham (A).

Mathematically speaking, if Arsenal wins every game remaining, they win the Barclays Premier League.

If the Arsenal is going to bring home its first PL title since the Invincibles, the team needs to make a big statement tomorrow. The Emirates needs to become a fortress like it once was, before Hull City shattered its mythical status. Taking full advantage of our home support – which requires those at the Emirates to be aboslutely as loud, proud and faithful as possible – will be the most significant factor in determining if Arsenal has a real shot at the title in the run-in. A confident win against Blackburn would encourage the team for the remaining games; a win against Liverpool would be a significant lift heading into one of the most meaningful derby’s in recent memory; 3 points against United obviously is the most important game left on the fixture list.

So, as you’ve gathered, I feel that Arsenal’s responsiblity is to take maximum points from their home fixtures in the coming weeks if they want to win the title. But there is another point that could benefit us further.

Manchester United vs Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League. This is a dream tie for the Gunners. For those of you fortunate enough to watch the great match on March 1st, you no doubt witnessed that there is no love between these two clubs, and after their bruising league game both teams will be eager to win the CL tie. The 120 minutes (hopefully more) should certainly do well to tire out both squad’s players, maybe cause an injury or two, and hurt both’s competitive ability in the league. It should be some great football on display, but perhaps the real winner is the Gunners… at least in terms of English title aspirations.

Will Arsenal be able to do it? I believe they could, but that’s a cautious confidence. The back five (keeper included) is extremely volatile and it will take some resilient defending in the back with a lot of heart and character – something our players have been lacking at times, truthfully. As well, we need greater lethality in front of net and will require some magic in particular from Arshavin, Nasri and Walcott. Everyone has a significant role to play in our title hopes, and I hope the players realize that and play to their full potential. With a little luck and a lot of commitment, the title’s not out of our grasp… but it’s still far from in our hands.

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