How many points will Arsenal get from the remaining games?

To presume that Arsenal will now qualify for the Champions League this season is a very dangerous mentality. To presume that the FA Cup and the Champions League are the only genuinely important games remaining is a very dangerous mentality.

Image courtesy of dyobmit

Arsenal may well sit six points ahead of Aston Villa in the race for 4th spot, but there are some tough games remaining for the Gunners. Aston Villa are bound to pick up their form in the remaining few games as well, so the Premier League is still very much a priority for Arsenal.

With this in mind, I thought that it would be appropriate to take a look at the remaining league games for Arsenal and to reveal my football predictions as to how many points will be achieved. Will the unbeaten run keep going? Will the loss of Clichy and Gallas be crucial in the coming weeks? A little speculation never hurt anyone, so let’s take a look.

Saturday 11th April

Wigan v Arsenal: Forgive me for my pessimistic attitude on this one, but I think it is going to be a draw. The combination of being tired from Europe and the injuries will affect Arsenal.1 – 1.

Tuesday 21st April

Liverpool v Arsenal: Liverpool’s home form has let them down this season at crucial times. This will be a must win for them, but Arsenal have been good against the ‘big four’ this campaign. Another draw for me. 2 – 2.

Sunday 26th April

Arsenal v Middlesbrough: This should be a home banker. Middlesbrough will be fighting for their Premier League lives at this stage, but Arsenal should have more than enough. Arshavin, Van Persie, Adebayor and Walcott up against Chris Riggott and co? 3 – 0.

Saturday 2nd May

Portsmouth v Arsenal: This is a very difficult game. Pompey will need the win to steer clear of the relegation zone. For some reason, I see the unbeaten run coming to an end here. 2 – 1.

Sunday 10th May

Arsenal v Chelsea: In response to the Pompey defeat, Arsenal will start this game at an electric pace. The crowd will be loud, the players will be determined and the luck will be on Wenger’s side. 2 – 1.

Saturday 16th May

Man United v Arsenal: I think it is fair to say that Arsenal will have their say on where the title goes this year. In the penultimate game of the season, Manchester United will still need as many points as possible. However, they will drop two on this occasion. 0 – 0.

Sunday 24th May

Arsenal v Stoke: A nice home win to finish the season? I think so. After this hammering of Stoke, optimism for next season will be extremely high. 5 – 0.

Should these results come true (remember they are just predictions that you may disagree with), Arsenal will gain another 12 points to leave them on 70 for the season. This means that Aston Villa would need 19 points from their last seven games to overtake them. Quite a big ask, I’m sure you’ll agree.

However, Arsenal are by no means guaranteed the points I gave them. The games against Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United could go either way.

Overall, my message is that 4th place is by no means guaranteed. The Premier League is still my number one priority and I just hope the players are aware of this. A win at Wigan tomorrow would do no harm at all.

End of Season Update:

Not bad – We finished on 72 pts and took 4th place!

By Thomas Rooney

Arsenal 2-0 Man City, a sign of things to come?

Cesc Fabregas and Adebayor returned triumphantly against Man City, Cesc set Adebayor up for both his goals – and it showed how much we have missed his incisive passing.

Image courtesy of mcaparrotta

The 4-2-3-1 formation really plays to our strengths and allows all of our more attacking midfield players to get forward – yesterday Arshavin, Walcott and Fabregas were all over Man City, whilst Song and and Denilson provide cover.

Another clean sheet was a good step in the right direction – Almunia made some good saves, and the defence looks a lot more alert compared to earlier this season!

The only thing that could worry me is that all of our victories have come against lower teams – but that is good, as these are the teams we dropped points against at the beginning of the season, and we know we can beat the other top 3.

This means that the team has started to raise their game against smaller teams and understand the value of every game. A few months ago we sometimes played like we had won the match before it began – and that cost us points!

So a great result, and with our captain back from injury things are looking up!

Internationals throw up three more injuries + Rocky7 Anniversary

As expected the first round of international matches have provided us with an extended injury list. It doesn’t make for good reading:

  • Robin Van Persie – Groin
  • Abou Diaby – Hip
  • Nicklas Bendtner – Knee

Bendtner’s injury may be serious enough to make him return to London, but Denmark seem to be trying their best to rush him into Wednesday’s game with Albania. Denmark assistant coach Peter Bonde:

“If he is ready then he is ready. We cannot be thinking about Arsenal. We treat players well, but we will play them if they are fit.”

So basically it doesn’t matter who owns the player – we need him to play against such top quality teams as Malta and Albania. This is a joke – for players to be injured playing games of such little quality, and returned to their clubs crocked.

We have seen this many times, and now Diaby has been withdrawn with the hip injury and RVP – our best striker this season is out too. The teams they were playing – Lithuania and Scotland.

There will be no end to this saga – international football is at the centre of FIFA and UEFA’s plans – I don’t mind internationals – but when they interrupt the club season at random intervals and cause injuries it doesn’t make sense.

It would be better to introduce a winter break in the UK like in many European countries – and play internationals then.

At least one player has returned from injury – Adebayor – after several weeks on the sidelines, during which we have regained our form. Ade got a goal for Togo against Cameroon, and although he is unpopular he is a dangerous player when on form. If he comes back into the squad plaing well then we may not miss Van Persie.

Finally, a mention for David Rocastle, a true Arsenal legend, who played for Arsenal from 1984 – 1992, winning the League Cup and two League championship medals, including the famous 1989 season. Today marks the 8th anniversary of his death, RIP Rocky. Arsenal Insider has a great tribute and interview with his sister Karen here.

Image Courtesy of wonker

Rocky7 Website

Van Persie has his say on remainder of season ahead of International weekend

There are several ways to look at it, but many believe that the International weekend has come at the wrong time for Arsenal. There is a chance that the momentum of 16 games unbeaten in the league could be hindered and there is a chance that several important players could come back injured.

This would be the last thing that Arsenal need considering the importance of the remaining few weeks of the season. The Champions League and the FA Cup are still up for grabs and then there is the small matter of making sure that a top four place is achieved in the Premier League.

Referring specifically to just that, Robin van Persie has claimed that Arsenal’s superior experience of handling pressure should ensure that 4th place is achieved ahead of Aston Villa.

The Arsenal striker believes that the team are going from ‘strength to strength’ in terms of their performances, meaning that ‘things are looking good’ for Arsene Wenger’s men at this moment in time.

As for the challenge of Aston Villa, van Persie says that the Arsenal players ‘can handle pressure better’ than Martin O’Neil’s team. This means that he is ‘confident’ that 4th place will be achieved with some to spare.

The Dutchman has even suggested 3rd place could be a realistic option for his team because ‘anything is possible in football’. He pointed out the fact that Arsenal are only six points behind Chelsea. This, combined with the fact that they still have to play them, means it could happen.

Overall, van Persie knows that Arsenal need a ‘really good run’ towards the end of the season to create the best possible chance of success. As for arguably the biggest prize, he seems certain that his team can win the Champions League this season.

The Gunners will face Villarreal in the quarter-finals next month and this is a draw that van Persie admits he was ‘quite happy with’. He then went on to say that Arsenal ‘want to win’ the competition and they won’t be satisfied unless they do.

Quite an optimistic young man isn’t he? It’s really good to hear though as it is clear that he is very happy at the club. He believes in the team’s ability and he is positive about what the future may bring.

If there were more players and characters like van Persie in the Arsenal squad, the ‘unbeatable’ tag would be set for an unprecedented return. Come back injury-free from Holland duty please Robin.

By Thomas Rooney

Arsene, learn the lessons from this season. Trophies anyone?

Arsenal’s 4-0 win against Allardcye’s Blackburn this Saturday was impressive, it was like watching the Arsenal of old, and it was just what the club needed. Arshavin seems to have brought the team out of the mire, and I hope it stays that way!

This season has been tough, the hardest that Arsenal have experienced under Arsene Wenger. We have seen a lot of inconsistent form, and a small squad stretched to the bare bones through injury. Yet now it seems there is light at the end of the tunnel.

The way the midfield of Walcott, Song, Denilson and Nasri/Arshavin performed on Saturday was fantastic. The goals were sublime, and Eboue capped it off for me! I know there will be setbacks ahead, but now the defence has tightened up and the team aren’t taking games for granted I think that we can salvage some pride from this season.

Arsenal are in the FA Cup and Champions League QFs and 4th in the League, with the top three still to play. We should relish that, because we are good enough to beat all three, and that gives us the chance to move higher up the table than we already are. As long as we can maintain form, which has been the struggle this season, then we will finish the season with some self-respect.

Next season we will hopefully start the season injury-free, and Wenger add one or two players to the squad. Our team is very good, but Wenger needs to learn the lesson of the last few years and add some depth. Hopefully younger players like Song and Denilson will have matured further and be playing top football this season, which they have begun to show glimpses of.

In any case I don’t want to get too carried away, it’s just nice to see the team play well and score some goals. The best realistic finish I can see is 4th place and the FA Cup in our trophy cabinet. I would settle for 4th though, and that will be a big enough challenge in itself.

Arsenal are in a position now to save themselves from UEFA Cup anonymity, and allow Wenger to begin to plan for next season. I just hope he learns the lessons from this year.

Here’s to a win against Hull tomorrow night and a Semi at Wembley!

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Arsenal well done! Highlights of those special goals. Wenger – keep building this team!

West Brom 1 – 3 Arsenal: Bendtner 4, Brunt 7, Toure 38, Bendtner 44. Highlights.

Well done Arsenal! We scored a goal! Things are finally starting go our way! 3-1 is a decent result even against West Brom, who have the worst defence in the league. I don’t care, as long as we take 3 points!

The main thing Arsenal need to do now is maintain stability within the team and become more clinical. Wenger is building something good here, Gooners need to keep the faith.

Arshavin impressed me again yesterday, he has the ability to make killer passes, and when settled in will surely be a great player for the club. Wenger went with Bendtner and he proved that he can play up front for Arsenal with two well taken goals.

One concern is Gallas, Toure and Silvestre are all out injured, but I am confident that Djourou is good enough, and Song looked so much better last night when playing at centre back, it seems to be a much more natural position for him to play.

Tonight the Villa – Man City result will be crucial, I’m praying for a City win, that would put us 3 points behind Villa, and in a very good position.

Also folks, Arsespeak is now on Twitter, you can follow our updates at http://twitter.com/arsespeak. If you haven’t signed up for Twitter then you should go and do it now!

Almunia points to fear factor as Arsenal look to improve home form against Fulham

This is a guest post by sportswriter Thomas Rooney

As we all know, Arsenal’s form at the Emirates Stadium hasn’t been brilliant of late. Three of the last six Premier League games there have been drawn, with the Gunners only managing to find the net on four occasions along the way.

So, what is this down to? Well, Manuel Almunia has admitted that some of the Arsenal players feel under more pressure playing at home than they do away at the moment.

After last weekend’s draw at home to Sunderland, some sections of the crowd booed, venting their frustration at being unable to break the deadlock.

It is a frustration that comes on the back of Arsene Wenger’s men not being able to manage more than one home goal in a league game since defeating Manchester United 2-1 back in November.

Speaking about the situation, Almunia has said how a number of the players ‘feel under more pressure’ at the moment because the team ‘is not winning’.

The goalkeeper went on to say that because the players know that the ‘fans deserve more than 0-0 scores’; this builds the pressure on the team when they try and break opposing teams down. He says that the attacking players are ‘spending a bit more time’ on getting their shot away.

As for how the team can rectify this, starting against Fulham tomorrow, Almunia believes that they need to find a ‘nice balance’ that results in Arsenal being ‘tight at the back but get the goals.’ That is the idea Manuel, yes!

The next game where Arsenal can search for this balance, as already mentioned, is against Fulham tomorrow. It is a must-win game if the Gunners are going to start closing the gap on Aston Villa in 4th place and another draw simply isn’t good enough.

Roy Hodgson’s side are hard to beat these days though and will fancy their chances of being the latest team to frustrate Arsenal at the Emirates.

Hopefully though, Arsenal will take their chances and cruise to a comfortable win. That would be exactly what the players, coaching staff and fans need right now. How about Andrei Arshavin grabbing his first goal as well? Perfect.

As far as team news is concerned, Abou Diaby will miss the game after injuring his calf against Roma on Tuesday. Elsewhere, there appears to be no fresh concerns for Wenger as his team look to stretch their unbeaten run to 14 games.

Denilson is the answer! Roma reaction and highlights

Well played Arsenal. A great performance on Tuesday, without Cesc Fabregas in the side, has shown that we still have the quality to win trophies. Denilson now looks like he can fill the Flamini shaped hole in midfield and the defence is full of confidence and beautifully miserly compared to last year.

Van Persie’s penalty (Mexes shove) was the difference against Roma, but it could have been much more as you all know. This shows just what happens when you don’t put 10 men behind the ball against Arsenal (read Nasri’s comments on this).

With a now steady defence, and RVP firing on all cylinders we can mount a challenge for honours this season. I know it is unlikely, but it is still possible, just not the league (see Cesc’s comments on the title here).

On the plus side, Eboue played very well on Tuesday, as well as Denilson who I thought was exemplary and deserves a lot of praise for the way he has developed this season. He was fouled very dirtily by Totti in the second half, I think that deserves an investigation to be honest. Have a look at the video here.

I know there will be setbacks ahead, but this shows you how well this team can play, add in the fact that we have many more attacking players to return from injury and you have a great side, we are close, but not quite there.

Arsenal 1 – 0 Roma, highlights here.

A clean sheet and a point. Spurs 0 – 0 Arsenal

Tottenham 0 – 0 Arsenal. Highlights here

Take what you will from the match today. With 10 men for an hour and Adebayor taking a hamstring injury at the same time, we still managed to take a point and kept a clean sheet, which is positive with our defence.

The downside is that we gave away the chance to go 3 points behind Chelsea in 4th place. This was a great opportunity, Spurs took no advantage of their extra man, and with 11 we should have taken 3 points.

The sending off was inevitable, Eboue is a liability. I have defended him before on ArseSpeak, but today his actions were unprofessional in the extreme. I hope that Wenger has serious words with him, and I hope Arshavin takes his spot on the right.

Before any Wenger bashers start going off on one, the only reason Eboue is plaing is because Rosicky and Walcott are injured as well as several other midfielders, he is not Wenger’s first choice, but our injury woes have forced the choice upon him.

In any case, I was happy with the defensive display, but Eboue’s sending off cost us the match, putting us on the back foot.

Diaby is latest to mention the title as Arsenal prepare to host West Ham

This is a guest post by sports writer Thomas Rooney

Arsenal’s players and management team seem to be taking it in turns to promote the team’s title chances this season. They may well sit eight points off top spot, but they seem determined to let everyone know that they are not giving up hope.

The latest to have his say on proceedings is Abou Diaby. The midfielder appears to be very defiant as he insists that he and his team-mates will ‘not let up until the end of the season’. This means that they will do all they can to ‘get points in every game’, so that if the top teams do suffer a dip in form – Arsenal are ready to pounce.

It seems that the general consensus was that the point achieved at Everton in midweek was not enough for the Gunners, even though they only just managed this thanks to a late Robin van Persie strike.

Diaby sees this differently though and has claimed that it was ‘very important’ to get a point at Goodison Park. He also believes that considering the way Arsenal played that night, a draw was ‘good for us’. Overall, he admits that Everton were the better team.

As for the man who rescued a point for Arsenal on Tuesday night, Diaby has nothing but praise for his Dutch team-mate. He says that van Persie – who has now netted 13 times this season – has an ‘unbelievable first touch’ and that his presence in the team makes a ‘big difference’.

Diaby himself has been involved in the last few games and will be hoping to keep this run going for the rest of the season. The Frenchman is beginning to establish himself in the team and looks set to eclipse the amount of appearances he made in the last campaign before long. There is no doubt that he will want to have a big say on how Arsenal fair in the final 15 games of the season.

The 22-year-old will almost certainly be involved this weekend as Arsenal face West Ham at the Emirates. It will be the first of two successive Premier League London derbies for the Gunners as they face Tottenham at White Hart Lane next weekend.

As much as the fans may be looking towards the Spurs game though, the team must remain focused for this clash against Gianfranco Zola’s men. They have been very impressive of late and find themselves third in the form table.

Their performance against Hull on Tuesday night was a very assured one and they definitely have enough attacking talent to cause Arsenal’s defence some problems. The in-form Carlton Cole, David Di Michele and Mark Noble are the ones to watch.

It is also worth pointing out that this fixture sees the battle of the undefeated as Arsenal haven’t lost in nine games and West Ham haven’t tasted defeat in seven matches. It should make for an entertaining game of football.

As far as team news is concerned, well Arsene Wenger is going to have to do without Mikael Silvestre who has suffered an injury set back and will be missing for at least two or three weeks. Other than that, there appear to be no fresh injury worries.

In fact, the team may well be the same as the one that started at Goodison Park as Arsenal look to claim a valuable win that would see them progress over the 950 points mark for the Premier League.

By Thomas Rooney