Flight of February: Arsenal's Crucial Fixtures
Arsenal FC faces a flight of February fixtures that any manager would find daunting, a decisive stretch of the season that will dictate the success or failure of their current campaign.
Upcoming February fixtures are as follows: Liverpool (away – BPL), Manchester United (home – BPL), Liverpool (home – FA Cup), Bayern Munich (home – UEFA Champions League) and Sunderland (home – BPL).
Arsene Wenger has stated the obvious by alluding to the team’s form at home being ‘crucial.’
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And If Wenger is to end the trophy drought that has plagued the club for eight long years he must consider the FA Cup the priority – he must consider the home tie against Liverpool ‘crucial.’
The depth of both Manchester City and Chelsea FC:
The Citizens are bursting with world-class players. Take for example Steven Jovetic, the Montenegran player Arsenal pursued for months. The lad can hardly get a game in Manchester. City has experienced quality at nearly every position and especially when considering their attack. Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure, Alvaro Negredo, and Edin Dzeko have scored a combined 43 goals in the BPL. Arsenal’s entire team have scored 47.
Chelsea is in a similarly strong position to weather injuries to their players ,and thanks to Jose Mourinho’s Winnebago counter-attacking style, they have conceded the least amount of goals in the league. Although many believe they lack the striker to bring them the title, their defeat of City at the Etihad proves that they are fully capable of winning the league this season (this despite their manager’s coy remarks stating that Chelsea are not ‘candidates’ to win the title).
The oil-rich squads enjoy a serious depth advantage – an advantage sure to expose itself as Arsenal plod through a February fixture list from hell.
Pep Guardiola will find a way to beat Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny:
It’s hard to avoid thinking that the depth at Pep’s disposal will be too much even for Arsenal’s fantastic centre back duo. Bayern Munich’s team of incredibles have one-upped themselves and gotten even better under Guardiola. Bayern are the unquestionable cream of the crop in Europe. Their distinct advantage of a home second-leg at the Allianz Arena spells big trouble for the Gunners - this despite the admirable display and near heroic comeback in Bavaria last year.
The other big FA Cup tie:
Manchester City host Chelsea the day before Arsenal face Liverpool. That means the two victorious sides from those matches will only have each other and either Southampton or Everton, or perhaps Swansea City, standing in the way of lifting the trophy at Wembley Stadium. No Man United, no Tottenham, only two traditionally mid-table teams and City/Chelsea. The mid-table sides are certainly no pushovers but Arsenal would be clear favorites against them and could look to be as close as can recently be remembered to that elusive silverware the team and its supporters crave.
The Gunners defied many of the odds makers by surviving their November nightmare when they defeated the likes of Liverpool, Borussia Dortmund, Southampton, and Marseille – but surviving their February flight of matches may yet prove to be too many fronts for this quad to legitimately compete on.
Focus on the FA Cup Arsene – end the drought.