At this moment, I feel that breaking into the TISWAS theme is highly appropriate. This Is Saturday and frankly whatever WAS you were planning on doing, forget it although if you WAS planning on listening to this morning’s playlist, Keep On Shining, you can do so on Dad’s Jukebox on the right sidebar or here.
God, that was contrived and grammatically poor. Still, at least you are prepared for what is about to follow.
A match which resonates with history, has proven decisive in the past and despite the reduced circumstances of the combatants, has the same potential today.
|ARSENAL||MAN CITY||MAN UTD||LIVERPOOL|
|LIVERPOOL||H||Crystal Palace||A||ASTON VILLA||H||Arsenal||A|
|Burnley||A||Man Utd||A||MAN CITY||H||Newcastle||H|
|WEST HAM||H||Chelsea||A||Hull City||A|
|SWANSEA CITY||H||QPR||H||Crystal Palace||A||CHELSEA||H|
|Man Utd||A||Swansea City||A||ARSENAL||H||CRYSTAL PALACE||H|
|WBA||H||SOUTHAMPTON||H||Hull City||A||Stoke City||A|
Yes, I look at it several times and managed to come up with a points total that had Arsenal, City and United finishing second which is a scary prospect. The mundanity of Van Gaal’s tactics might get rewarded and usher in another dank and dim period in English football. You can tell that wasn’t a prospect I chose to dwell on for long.
The importance of that table is to show there’s no point in looking ahead. The regularity of fixtures between the top five is unusual for this stage of the season but underlines that it is most definitely one match at a time. A victory today for Arsenal almost certainly rules Liverpool out of contention for the top four but even then successive wins coupled with United losing to the current top two and Liverpool are back in contention for the top four. It’s that close.
It’s that mad.
Consistency has been a problem for everyone bar Chelsea to the extent that when they stumbled recently it was third placed Arsenal who were deemed the worthy challengers, not Manchester City. That notion made little sense at the time and makes even less now. The run of fixtures above underline that the blue Mancunians have the most straightforward run-in of the top four challengers. It’s just as well football isn’t played on paper otherwise the predictability of a season would be numbing.
Arsenal have been consistent in the Premier League, the travails of Europe were successfully compartmentalised, if not convincingly at the time. The international break could not have come at a worse time from that perspective. Not for the first time, we’re left hoping that Arsenal will get back into the groove straight away.
Do we worry about the performance today if a win is achieved? Under those circumstances, probably not. If marks were given for artistic merit in football, Arsenal would probably have champions half-a-dozen time in the past ten years. Performances matter when a team is trying to establish form but when the run is put together, when the results are coming and especially this late in the season, no; results are more important. Winning ugly beautiful.
For once, the internationals appear to have been kind to Arsène. OK, not so unkind is perhaps a better description. Danny Welbeck is the only doubt with fears over Aaron Ramsey seemingly misplaced. Encouraging as the returns of Arteta, Debuchy and Wilshere were, I don’t think any will start. Whilst Debuchy’s experience is welcomed, is it the right choice against a pacey Liverpool attack that will look to exploit any ring-rustiness with relish?
It means that it will be pretty much as you were in terms of the XI,
I’m no different to most fans in that today has been focussed on knocking Liverpool out of the Champions League race. It’s almost looking at it Arsenal about face; Chelsea are the next visitors to The Emirates with a trip to relegation-threatened Burnley in between. As much as it is about gaining an almost unassailable advantage over your opponents, a win today eases the pressure on the visit of the Champions-elect. Lose and we face a potential three out of nine points, an extremely harmful total at this late stage of the season.
From The Vaults
Forty-five years after its’ formation, Arsenal Football Club were crowned Champions for the first time. This 3 – 1 victory over Liverpool left Arsenal five points clear of Aston Villa with two games left, an irretrievable lead.
As well as being the first triumph for the club, it was the first for a London club. Little did the northern teams realise that this signalled a power-shift for the rest of the 1930s to The Arsenal. That achievement warranted an effusive Leader article in The Times, reproduced below.
At this point, Arsenal had scored 119 goals in the league, a phenomenal achievement with 40 games played. Aston Villa in second place topped that with 124. By the season’s end, Villa were in the middle of a slump in goalscoring form with the final totals being 127 and 128 respectively.
Arsenal’s purple patch for goals came in winter with seven put past Blackpool and Leicester City (at Filbert Street), six past Derby at Highbury whilst the hapless Grimsby Town were trounced 9 – 1. They were not averse to conceding goals either; they only managed four clean sheets all season, the first of which arrived in a goalless draw with Huddersfield Town on 7th March 1931. Meetings between the top two were no less entertaining; Arsenal won 5 – 2 at Highbury whilst Villa triumphed 5 – 1 in the return.
The decisive factor at the time was Goal Average. Arsenal’s was 2.15, the highest in six seasons since Huddersfield Town’s 2.46 in 1924/25. Goal difference if it had been needed, would have made no difference with Arsenal’s ending at 68 to Villa’s 50.
click to enlarge