The Run In – Top Four

The following table shows the remaining fixtures of the current top four in the Premier League. Man City are currently scheduled to play the most games, while Leicester are out of every cup competition and only have the league to focus on.

Leicester City v Arsenal - Premier League

Date Arsenal Leicester Tottenham Man City
14 Feb Leicester (H) Arsenal (A) Man City (A) Tottenham (H)
18 Feb N/A N/A Fiorentina (A) N/A
20/21 Feb Hull (H) N/A Crystal Palace (A) Chelsea (A)
23/24/25 Feb Barcelona (H) N/A Fiorentina (H) Dynamo Kiev (A)
27/28 Feb Man United (A) Norwich (H) Swansea (H) Liverpool (N)
1/2 Mar Swansea (H) West Brom (H) West Ham (A) Liverpool (A)
5 Mar Tottenham (A) Watford (A) Arsenal (H) Aston Villa (H)
12/14 Mar West Brom (H) Newcastle (H) Aston Villa (A) Norwich (A)
15/16 Mar Barcelona (A) N/A N/A Dynamo Kiev (H)
19/20 Mar Everton (A) Crystal Palace (A) Bournemouth (H) Man United (H)
2 Apr Watford (H) Southampton (H) Liverpool (A) Bournemouth (A)
9 Apr West Ham (A) Sunderland (A) Man United (H) West Brom (H)
16 Apr Crystal Palace (H) West Ham (H) Stoke (A) Chelsea (A)
23 Apr Sunderland (A) Swansea (H) West Brom (H) Stoke City (H)
30 Apr Norwich (H) Man United (A) Chelsea (A) Southampton (A)
7 May Man City (A) Everton (H) Southampton (H) Arsenal (H)
15 May Aston Villa (H) Chelsea (A) Newcastle (A) Swansea (A)

Arsenal, Tottenham and Man City are still in the FA Cup and should they qualify for the later rounds, these will be played on the following dates:

  • Quarter Final – 12/13 Mar
  • Semi Final – 23/24 Apr
  • Final – 21 May

Arsenal and Man City remain in the Champions League, and qualification to the next round will result in fixtures on these dates:

  • Quarter Final -1st Leg – 5/6 Apr, 2nd Leg – 12/13 Apr
  • Semi Final – 1st Leg – 26/27 Apr, 2nd Leg 3/4 May
  • Final – 28 May

Similarly Tottenham in the Europa League:

  • Round of 16 – 1st Leg – 10 Mar, 2nd Leg – 17 Mar
  • Quarter Final – 1st Leg – 7 Apr, 2nd Leg – 14 Apr
  • Semi Final – 1st Leg – 28 Apr, 2nd Leg -5 May
  • Final – 18 May

Fixture clashes will result in Premier League ties being moved to an available date later in the season; most likely on a weekday between games where possible.

How to beat Bayern Munich – by Arsene Wenger

STEP 1: Sign a world-class goalkeeper, capable of stopping Robert Lewandowski one-on-one. AKA Petr Cech.

Check.

STEP 2: Rally up the team with a “nothing to lose” attitude, by losing first two group games meaning we have to win this one or we’re effectively out. (Circa away legs in Munich in 2013&14 where we won 2-0 and drew 1-1 after poor first legs).

Check.

STEP 3: Tell the press you’re going to come flying out the blocks from the start to get an early goal. Do the opposite. Leave Bayern and Guardiola surprised by deep-lying defensive tactics.

Check.

STEP 4: Play only the counter attack. Surrender possession. Defend as a team.

Check.

STEP 5: Turn Coquelin to fully passionate and determined. Allow for big challenges, shouting at team-mates, keeping everyone organised, and celebrating like a fan.

Check.

STEP 6: Make religious 70th minute substitution where Walcott and Giroud swap places.

Check.

STEP 7: Put all the big guys in the box and sneak a cheeky winner.

STEP 8: Score. With any part of the body. Doesn’t matter how they come. I always rated Giroud.

STEP 9: Keep a clean sheet.

STEP 10: Remind Bellerin he is faster than Douglas Costa. And Alaba. And everyone else on the pitch for that matter.

STEP 11: Get Ozil another goal in another big game.

STEP 12: Be the first manager to have beaten both Pep Guaridola’s Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

Check. Check. Check. Check. Check.

 

Can Arsenal Really Win The Premier League?

Arsenal mustered up a performance that will live long in the memory against Manchester United last weekend, winning 3-0 in style with a dominating performance, both offensively and defensively. But does this win make a statement that they truly are title contenders?

It is widely known and regularly reported that Arsenal have not won the Premier League for 10 years, since that famous invincible season. What’s more though, is that they haven’t really competed for it in so long either, despite never finishing outside of the top four. However, on the back of 2 successive FA Cup victories, are Arsenal finally ready to mount a proper challenge for the biggest prize in domestic football?

Arsenal are a sleeping giant

Arsenal are a “sleeping giant” according to Graeme Souness, who believes that Arsenal should be on the same level as Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Manchester United and Real Madrid, as one of the biggest forces in European football. I am sure that many fans would agree, and simultaneously love to see Arsenal reaching such heights, but before they compete for the Champions League, they must surely be able to compete for the Premier League.

In the words of legend, Thierry Henry, Arsenal “must win it this year”, as the Frenchman doesn’t think they will have a better opportunity than they do now. Chelsea’s atrocious start to the season sees them lying around the bottom of the table with just two wins from eight. While Liverpool and Tottenham have the same struggles as usual, Manchester City look like the only team who will pose a real threat to our dreams, having seen off the only other real contenders, Manchester United, with relative ease at the weekend. However I am wiser than to completely write United off at this early stage.

They must win the Premier League this season

The form of the Premier League teams in Europe goes a long to show how poorly our home nation teams are playing this year, compared with the biggest in Europe. We play in the most competitive league, but it appears not the best. And with that, it shows how none of the teams in England have really taken the initiative in the league. Even Man City have struggled at times without captain Vincent Kompany, or other members of their spine, resulting in us sticking fairly close to them for now. No doubt they will be favourites for the league, though.

Yet it is this struggling from which all teams are currently suffering that makes this our best opportunity to win. As Thierry said, “They must win the Premier League this season”, because you know that next year, these other teams will expend a huge amount of resources in order to comeback. Something Arsenal won’t do in the same way.

We can all agree that Arsenal have the basis for a great team, but time and time again they have fallen just short. They have been a nearly-team, a near miss. For years now, pundits and fans alike have cited certain positions in need of improvement. Today though we are finally starting to see things lining up. Theo Walcott and Francis Coquelin appear to have come to our saviour in those pivotal central roles, however a lack of cover for them could prove a big problem should injury strike.

With so many games to be played, rotation will be key to our success. We remain in every competition, for now, but face a huge uphill battle to stay in the Champions League as we reside bottom of the group after embarrassing defeats to Dinamo Zagreb and Olympiacos, with two games against Bayern Munich to come next.

Yet could our failures in the Champions League, work out positively? We saw Liverpool come close to winning the League two season ago, when they did not have to play in Europe at all. Similarly Arsenal finish the season strong regularly, once they have been knocked out of the Champions League, in the Round of 16.

Perhaps exiting the Champions League at the group stage for once, would allow the team to push on for the Premier League, without having to worry about resting players, rotation, or fatigue, as much as normal.

While this would be a positive out of a shambolic Champions League campaign, I do not condone us going out with ease, and I believe we should push for the maximum points we can to try and qualify for the next round, because this is the Champions League we are talking about after all.

To win in a big game is always a statement, we are in it, we are two points off the leaders. I hope the result today will give us belief, and ambition to fight for it.

-Arsene Wenger

To take an impartial outlook on the situation, I believe Arsenal can win the League, but Manchester City have to be considered favourites for it. They have the experience and mentality for it, whereas thus far this season Arsenal have lacked the consistency needed. They would need Man City to show similar inconsistencies.

Arsenal’s chances of winning it would be greatly improved were they to be knocked out of the Champions League, but that is not something I want nor hope to see; especially with this coefficient problem, and all the English teams looking fragile at best. Plus those Champions League nights at the Emirates against some of the world’s greatest are some of the best nights of the year.

The final variable will come down to Arsenal’s biggest enemy. Injuries. Keeping the likes of Sanchez, Ozil, Coquelin, Walcott, Cech, fit. We will need our star players to play and deliver week in week out.

Who could Arsenal face in the Champions League?

The Champions League group stage draw is set to take place tomorrow, Thursday 27th August, at 4:45pm (UK time), in Monaco, where Arsenal find themselves in Pot 2 with the potential to be drawn in one of their toughest groups to date. 

So now you know all the details, but where can you watch it? Sky Sports News of course. OR you could just read your twitter feed and the endless people tweeting updates in real-time.

Unfortunately due to the changes made by UEFA, Arsenal will be in Pot 2 this year for the first time in a while. As will fellow English sides, Manchester City and Manchester United (should they beat Club Brugge tonight). This comes down to the regulation changes that have been made to the draw to benefit each association’s “Champions”.

The new regulations take into consideration the clubs domestic form instead of European, as it used to be, much to the annoyance of Wenger, who has consistency of getting to the knockout stages (and then knocked out) down to a t. He will certainly be moaning about this new structure, if he isn’t right this second, especially if it results in our downfall.

Regardless of Wenger or anyone else’s opinion though, it is formatted in this way.

Pot 1 will consist of the Champions from the seven top leagues around Europe. These are considered to be the English, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Portuguese and Russian leagues. With the eighth spot being given to Holland. (It may be that this eighth country is up for change on a yearly basis).

As usual, teams from the same country cannot face each other in this round.

So Arsenal will be drawn against one of the Champions, which they are mostly used to having the benefit of avoiding. The Manchester clubs would have all of the same options for the draw as Arsenal too. While Chelsea could still be presented with a difficult team from Pot 2, with both Madrid’s amongst other top sides in there.

Who will they face?

In POT 1 there is, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Paris-Saint Germain, Benfica, Zenit St. Petersburg, Chelsea and PSV Eindhoven

In POT 2 with Arsenal, we have Manchester City, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, FC Porto, Valencia and two of Manchester United, Shaktar Donetsk, Bayer Leverkusen and Sevilla.

In POT 3: Olympiakos, Galatasaray, Lyon, Dynamo Kiev, Roma, and 3 from Shakhtar Donetsk, Sevilla, Sporting Lisbon, CSKA Moscow, Lazio, Bruges, APOEL, BATE.

And finally in POT 4: Borussia Monchengladbach, Wolfsburg, Dinamo Zagreb, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Gent, Malmo and 2 from APOEL, BATE, Partizan, Astana.

The exact pots will be confirmed after tonights qualifiers, once we know who is through, it will also enable the teams to be ranked based on their UEFA Coefficient. This is why Shaktar Donetsk could be in pot 2 or 3 for example, despite having already qualified.

4:45pm – Thursday 27th August

Kroos wants focus, while Martinez anticipates “crazy game”

Heading in to the second-leg of the Round of 16 tie between Arsenal and Bayern, the Gunners must overcome a 3-1 deficit at the Allianz Arena, Bayern Munich’s fortress.

To qualify for the quarter-finals Arsenal would have to complete one of the most heroic comebacks in Champions League history, a fate the almost achieved at the same stage last year after losing 4-0 in the first leg, before winning the second 3-0.

Although this task borders impossible against a formidable Bayern side who are one of the competitions favourites, not to mention that it has to be Arsenal’s weakest side under Wenger, the Bayern Munich players have insisted that Arsenal are not to be underestimated.

Toni Kroos who scored the first goal at the Emirates has said that: “We should not be talking about the draw for the quarter-finals yet. We have the return against Arsenal first. We will have to secure progress before we can think about the outcome of the draw.

“We have to be focused and cannot afford to underestimate Arsenal. They are a top team, as we all saw in the first leg. We have to put in another sovereign performance.

“So far strong teams such as Borussia Dortmund, Real Madrid and Juventus have qualified [for the quarter-finals], so we will face a difficult opponent either way.”

Manuel Neuer has backed up Kroos, insisting that Bayern will approach the match with the right attitude.

“We continue to give our all, also in the Champions League match versus Arsenal. We will approach the game with the right attitude again and want to emerge victorious. I hope we can keep a clean sheet this time.”

One of their midfield maestro’s will be missing through suspension, Bastian Schweinsteiger no less. But they have another in the form of Damien Martinez who they payed a fee of £35m for, twice Arsenal’s record transfer.

Martinez told the Daily Star: “I think it will be an open match. Arsenal need a crazy game to create spaces on the pitch and score goals. We need to keep our heads and rely on our system.

“We cannot think about what happened in the first match.

“This Bayern squad has a winning mentality and our rivals fear us because we are serious contenders for the Champions League.

“Bayern dream of reaching another final and I consider that we have a good chance of getting there. We have to make sure we don’t fail.”

“We need to concentrate for the full 90 minutes because to go out after leading 3-1 would be a huge blow for us.

“Nobody is thinking in this way but we all know Arsenal will arrive in Germany playing for pride and looking for revenge.”

“People have criticised their performance – but we totally ran rings around them.”