Two points off the top with 12 games to go, or eight points off the top with 12 games to go?
It’s a little difficult to see Sunday’s visit of Leicester City ending in a draw, so the two options above are what lie ahead of us. With huge away games to come, Arsenal just can’t afford to be eight points back.
One of only two teams to beat the Foxes so far this season, a repeat of the 5-2 win in September would be huge for out part in the title race. Sunday is massive.
According to Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger, such a big game is being relished in the camp. In the past, Arsenal have been criticised for not delivering in the big matches, but since the start of 2015 the Gunners have beaten both Manchester clubs at home and away.
The win at Leicester in September may have been a huge one, though nobody knew it at the time, and another would send a real message ahead of a crucial few weeks.
“It is a very important game, maybe not a decisive one for the Premier League but it is not far away from that,” the boss told the media. “The pressure is on us as well, of course. I don’t deny that but I take that in a very positive way and as an opportunity to show how strong we are.
“This is the kind of game we want – the kind of game we relish. When you play at Arsenal Football Club, that’s what you want.”
There isn’t any. Some reports have suggested Wenger will shock everyone and include Danny Welbeck in the squad, but that seems unlikely – he’s lacking match fitness and we should expect him to be with the u21s again on Monday night.
Everyone who played against Bournemouth is available; Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky all remain out.
Possible XI: Čech; Bellerín, Gabriel, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin, Ramsey; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Özil, Alexis; Giroud.
Well, where do we start? Leicester City are still going. We ended their unbeaten run, they kept going. They struggled through the busy festive period, then they started winning again. Top of the league, five points clear, and fresh from beating previous title favourites Manchester City.
Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez are the driving force behind their title challenge, but the sensible defensive approach shown at the Etihad Stadium is what Arsenal need to overcome. A compact defence applying pressure to the ball carrier, they look to steal possession and launch a high-paced counter-attack in the blink of an eye.
To make matters worse, manager Claudio Ranieri claims there still isn’t any pressure on his side!
Possible XI: Schmeichel; Simpson, Morgan, Huth,Fuchs; Mahrez, Drinkwater, Kanté, Albrighton; Okazaki, Vardy.
Arsène Wenger believes his team is up for this game, for the challenge that lies ahead. He also wonders if Leicester City, now favourites for the title and doubted by nobody, will start to get nervous.
And that’s the key really, isn’t it? If Leicester continue the way they’ve played all season, with a five point lead, it’s going to become very difficult to catch them. If the pressure of expectation, the nerves of being top affects the Foxes then Arsenal must be able to cope with the pressure to take advantage.
Sunday won’t decide the title race outright, but it could have a huge bearing on who is celebrating come May.