Lunch time today sees us kick-off the first of nine games that will more than likely determine the direction in which the club moves in the near future.
Nine games which in a normal season we would expect to comfortably win eight of.
But this is not a normal season by any means. This is the season where any team can beat any other team and every club must expect the unexpected.
A maximum of twenty-seven points on offer, we need to win a minimum of twenty of them for the season to be judged average. That is a reasonable run in the FA Cup, last sixteen in the Champions League and third or fourth place in the Premiership with European qualification our usual “trophy”. Even winning all twenty-seven points wont guarantee the Premiership title which is the only thing that can lift the season to above average.
Failure to Qualify for the Champions League will lead to even louder calls for the heads of both the board members and the manager. More importantly, it could lead to a downward spiral where it becomes difficult to retain our best players and recruit top quality reinforcements which will almost inevitably lead to a slide down the league.
We start the final nine away to Everton, a team that we beat 2 – 1 at home in October, one of those “expected” results.
Without in any way disrespecting The Toffees, they are seen as a second tier team in the Premiership, perhaps slightly underachieving but working under a good young manager and with brighter prospects following the arrival of new majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri.
Everton have a good mix of players with a solid looking back four some good experienced midfielders and a striker in Lukaku who can be deadly on his day.
It will not be an easy game.
Our manager has a job on his hands to lift the squad following a disastrous few weeks culminating in being dumped out of the Champions League by Barcelona on Wednesday night.
The players have to put all of that out of their minds and concentrate on playing well, doing their best and sticking to the plan.
For Arsenal there are a number of question marks over the choice of starters, the one certainty is David Ospina in goal. Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal should fill the fullback slots and despite two glaring mistakes by Koscielny on Wednesday I expect him to be paired with Gabriel in the centre of the defence. With Flamini apparently injured, there should be no fear that he will be chosen ahead of either Coquelin and Elneny in central midfield.
With Ozil to pull the strings behind Alexis, Welbeck and Iwobi. I’m sure Ozil will provide the ammunition, we must just hope that the front trio can bury a few of those chances he provides.
Win today and we give ourselves a chance of saving our season, lose and…………..
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