Eight games remain and the majority of diehard Arsenal fans gave up hope long before the international break but, there’s still a chance.
Eleven points, a game in hand, but there is still an opportunity available.
If the away performance against Everton is anything to go by, the players know the fate of this season rests on the upcoming month-and-a-half. So can we do it? Or are we forced to settle for mediocrity once again?
Players tell the story
Mesut Özil, one of our shining lights this season, admits that we only have ourselves to blame. Inconsistency at the most inconvenient times, has all but gifted title rivals an opportunity to open up space between ourselves in the race for the coveted Premier League title, which looks increasingly distant now.
Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris has refused to rule us out because, in football, anything can happen. The 29-year-old is right and although it would’ve pained him to say so, there’s still a chance.
But with a highly-charged Watford side ready to pounce, are we up for the fight?
Petr Čech (calf) is a doubt for tomorrow’s fixture, meaning David Ospina could and probably will continue to start in goal – a reward for his impressive form in the Czech’s absence.
Arsène Wenger provided updates on a number of first-team players who’ve been ruled out of action with respective injuries, confirming that the midfield duo of Aaron Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini will both not be available for selection this weekend, but hopefully the following week.
Santi Cazorla, who has been sidelined since November, has started running outside again. In terms of an expected timescale, the experienced Spaniard should be “three or four weeks” away from a full return.
Jack Wilshere, who is still a doubt for this summer’s European Championships, might feature in next week’s u21 fixture against Newcastle, while Tomas Rosicky is also back in full training.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is the only other absentee, and he’s “progressing well”, currently in the rehabilitation process as he recovers from a double blow: knee ligament and ankle damage.
Possible XI: Ospina; Bellerín, Koscielny, Gabriel, Monreal; Coquelin, Elneny; Iwobi, Özil, Alexis; Welbeck.
Ah, Watford again. Following our unceremonious exit from the FA Cup at the quarter-final stage, the Hornets will be eager to sting us once again at the Emirates. With the dynamic duo of Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo leading the line, Quique Sánchez Flores’ side still ultimately have points to play for.
A late European qualification charge seems unlikely, but they’ll be eager to push into the top 10 and cement an excellent season’s work with a semi-final at Wembley in a few weeks’ time. They love the ‘underdog’ tag and will be keen to embrace it once more, but this time, you’d naturally expect a wearier but less tentative Arsenal side in battle on Saturday.
As Deeney warned earlier this week, they’re hungry to bounce back from a forgettable defeat of their own prior to the international break and another victory over a top side would certainly do that.
Possible XI: Gomes; Nyom, Britos, Cathcart, Aké; Capoue, Suárez, Abdi, Watson; Deeney, Ighalo.
A fixture of great significance
With Tottenham taking a trip to Anfield on Saturday, and Leicester in action against an unpredictable Southampton the following afternoon, every point is vital.
A win against Watford could be the start of a much-needed run of momentum, especially after an excellent display against the Toffees: a side that has given us plenty of trouble away from home in previous fixtures.
Anything less, and the atmosphere will continue to intensify negatively, not only surrounding Wenger but also his players, something that is the last thing we need in a title charge.
Watford are a credible side with plenty of positives, but if we can’t beat them, how do we expect to win the league? A must-win fixture, this.