With 27 points from a possible 30 since New Year’s Day, we have been the best team in England since 2015 began.
Our opponents this weekend haven’t been far behind us, dropping just five points in the same period. Their form has left them on the edge of the Champions League places, while we have muscled ourselves into a very strong position just behind Manchester City.
This game, between third and fifth, truly is a six-pointer. Liverpool are now five points from fourth, and can’t afford to drop any more points. A win for Arsenal more or less clinches Champions League football for next season and puts us into second for the first time this season. Arsène Wenger called the game “an opportunity for us to continue our run”, and it is one we have to take.
Something we aren’t all that used to. Mathieu Debuchy, Mikel Arteta, Abou DIaby, and Jack Wilshere all completed at least a half in a friendly against a Brentford XI at London Colney on Tuesday, with Wenger “quite surprised” at how fit they were.
He is still yet to decide whether or not any of them will be included on Saturday afternoon.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is training again but this game comes too early for him. Danny Welbeck’s MOTM performance for England last week came with a slight knee injury – he has a “little chance” for this weekend.
Possible XI: Ospina; Bellerín, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin; Alexis, Ramsey, Cazorla, Özil; Giroud.
I’ve looked at Liverpool in much more depth in a breakdown of this week’s opposition, but here’s some of that in brevity anyway.
Since December Brendan Rodgers tweaked the formation and has since managed to get the best from his key players, who are finally stepping up after the summer loss of Luis Suárez.
Raheem Sterling will only get better, while Philippe Coutinho and Jordan Henderson in particularly have stepped up lately.
As mentioned, their form has been excellent, and they have rarely looked vulnerable. They did, however, in their last outing – a 2-1 defeat at home against Manchester United.
Liverpool’s vulnerabilities can certainly be exploited to a greater extent than usual, with Martin Skrtel banned. Steven Gerrard is also banned, but fellow Englishmen Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge are set to take injections to play through the pain of their respective toe and hip injuries.
Possible XI: Mignolet; Can, Touré, Lovren; Marković, Allen, Henderson, Moreno; Sterling, Coutinho; Sturridge.
Right now there isn’t a title race.
We are seven points behind Chelsea having played a game more. But we can keep winning to put them under as much pressure as possible.
Arsène Wenger said on Thursday that we “can only master our own performances”, and that’s exactly what we have to do.
“What is mathematically possible, you have to try to achieve.”
It is still mathematically possible.
Let’s beat Liverpool and see where that leaves us.