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.