I was unable to catch today’s game on TV, but I did manage to tune in to Arsenal Player in time to listen to the last half hour. From the commentator’s voice, it seemed as if Arsenal were unable to break through Newcastle’s defense. Fortunately, Olivier Giroud came through for us once again with a header to make it 1-0 at the 65-minute mark. Newcastle poured on the pressure (and physicality) but Arsenal withstood it to gain a crucial 3 points.
We’re now at the midway point of the season, and Arsenal’s record is: 13W – 3D – 3L (42 pts). If we were to project that over the second half, their record would be: 26W – 6D – 6L (84 pts). Judging from the previous two seasons, 84 points will not be enough to secure the league title. It seems like 89 points would be the magic number:
Manchester City (2011-12) 28W – 5D – 5L (89 pts) +65 GD
Manchester Utd (2012-13) 28W – 5D – 5L (89 pts) +43 GD
So our second-half record would have to be something like: 15W – 2D – 2L (47 pts) and our goal-difference in the second half would have to be in the region of +24 minimum (in any case, we would lose that tie-breaker to Man City).
Only 2 losses the rest of the way? Let’s say Chelsea at Stamford Bridge (Mar 22) and Manchester City at the Emirates (Mar 29). We would need to eke out a result against Man Utd and Sp**s (at WHL). The rest of the matches would have to be wins.
Since we’re missing Aaron Ramsey (thigh strain) for the foreseeable future, Arsene Wenger will have to carefully rotate Wilshere-Arteta-Flamini in the holding mid roles. That leaves Özil-Cazorla-Rosicky further up to support Podolski-Walcott-Giroud. It would seem that we desperately need a backup forward for Giroud, but who knows what Wenger will do. Since we have Champions League and FA Cup fixtures in the mix, injuries and fatigue could become a factor if we don’t bring in some reinforcements next month.
It’s difficult to predict what the other clubs will do in the January transfer window. All things remaining equal, I can see Everton and Liverpool fading while both Manchester clubs will gain momentum. And you can’t discount Chelsea even though they seem to be struggling to score goals at the moment.
The good news is, Arsenal are in control of their own destiny. We must win against the likes of Cardiff, Villa, Fulham and Southampton. Then we have Crystal Palace on Feb 2, followed by Liverpool and Man U. I get the feeling that Wenger will put out a ‘B’ team for the FA Cup match (Jan 4) against Sp**s.
I remain cautiously optimistic, but it’s still too early to tell. One thing’s for sure: next season, Özil will be a beast.