What should Arsenal prioritise?

Arsenal have been juggling three different competitions over the past month, and made it difficult for themselves by requiring a replay to get past Hull in the FA Cup. Is it time to prioritise which competitions full attention should be given to?

At the present moment, Arsenal’s best chance of silverware this season is undoubtedly the FA Cup. With a home win versus Watford, Arsenal will return to Wembley for the semi-final for the third consecutive year.

As such, it would make sense to prioritise the Watford game this weekend, over the Champions League tie with Barcelona just three days later, where the Gunners need to overturn a 2-0 deficit, winning by 2 to stand a chance of going through.

Clearly such a fate is hugely unlikely, but will Arsenal fans be happy with resting players during the Barcelona game, similar to Tottenham’s tactics against Dortmund (although they weren’t even 2-0 down at that point).

Clearly the trophy all Arsenal fans want to win is the Premier League, a trophy that has eluded us for 12 years and we are all well aware this is our best chance to win it. But so are Tottenham are Leicester. (See remaining fixtures for all four sides here).

Realistically we must focus on beating Watford at home at all costs, and pursue the historic achievement of three consecutive FA Cup wins. When, perhaps rather than if, we are eliminated from the Champions League, we will only have one game left outside of Premier League games to deal with before the season ends (FA Cup final would be at least a week after final PL game).

We will have a clear run at the Premier League, and be able to chase down as many points as possible in our final 9 games. There’s still a long way to go, and Leicester and Spurs have also shown signs of dropping points. No doubt we all will do again, it just depends how many.

Dropping out of the Champions League this early will surely benefit our league campaign, whereas I expect City to continue to struggle for league form by progressing to the quarter-finals.

The question is, should Arsenal field the strongest possible side against Barcelona and go for it? Inducing fatigue, risking further injuries to key players, and so on. Or should a more rational and long-term approach be taken.

 

Arsenal must beat Tottenham

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With the title race hanging in the balance and Tottenham sitting just three points above Arsenal, the Gunners have no option but to win the North London Derby this weekend. 

Both teams come into the game off the back of disappointing midweek results which saw Arsenal lose their third consecutive game. A 2-1 loss at home to Swansea, who are fighting relegation, has really caused a stir of frustration amongst the fans who know this is the best chance they have had to win the league in the past 12 years.

A lot always rests on the fiercest derby in English football where pride and bragging rights are always on the line, but this is perhaps the most significant of them all so far in the Premier League era.

Tottenham are undoubtedly in better form, and looking as good as they probably ever have. Yet a derby is the one game where the form book can be thrown out of the window.

It comes down to desire and passion, and hopefully the Arsenal players can use the high intensity atmosphere and amazing away support to immerse themselves in the importance of the occasion, and show that they are serious about playing for this team AND about winning. Although these should go hand-in-hand, without saying.

Arsenal have lost just once to Spurs in the last 7 meetings. That was a 2-1 defeat at White Hart Lane in the corresponding fixture last year. However Arsenal did manage to win there 2-1 themselves earlier this season in the Capital One Cup against a fairly strong Tottenham team, with two stunners from Flamini no less.

A win will take the Gunners back to level on points with Tottenham (54), and hopefully propel the team into finishing above them for the 21st consecutive season. Regardless of who wins the league.

As Ian Wright says, “If we can rule North London, we can rule the country.”