Evening all. With our season now confined to just the Premier League, we have no fixture congestion issues from here on in, no prioritizing to ponder competition-wise, just nine games to make up the 11 points we currently lie behind Leicester and then pray and hope our rivals in the title race drop enough to see us crowned champions.
At this point it’s already highly unlikely and every game feels like a title eliminator because if we were to fall any further behind, then realistically our challenge would be over even if it was still mathematically possible.
And as we prepare for the season’s final straight, two of our spinal players have been having their say on what they feel is required if we are to beat the odds and lift our first league title since 2004. First up it’s Mesut Ozil, who had some fighting talk when he spoke with Arsenal Player, saying:
Last year we won those last eight [remaining] games but we don’t care about that now. It’s important what happens now. We have to concentrate now and give everything on the pitch. We have to fight. I know the teams playing us will fight to take the points against us, so the games will be tough. We have to fight on the pitch and we have to think from game to game, not that we can win eight games in a row and take the points. Now it’s not possible to win just our games [and that to be enough] so other teams need to lose points as well. The first step is to believe in us. We have to work harder than before. We have tough games coming but we have to take the points. If we win the title, we will be very happy because we believe in us. If you see the whole season, we’ve played very well. We’ve lost some points because we weren’t concentrated or we didn’t score. Now we have to fight for each game to take the points.
Nothing to argue with there and our German assist-meister certainly sounds determined. I’ve seen him get some stick for his alleged ‘lack of effort’ in last night’s loss to Barcelona but I think part of the reason he may have been at less than 100 percent intensity is because deep down, both team and manager knew we were facing an impossible task – especially after Barcelona took the lead to make it 3-0 on aggregate.
So rather than not trying, I think Ozil was sensibly conserving energy, perhaps even on manager instructions. Whether that’s true or not only the player and Arsene Wenger can know for sure of course, but that’s how I’m reading it and you can’t stop me.
Meanwhile Laurent Koscielny says the side have lost a little confidence having dropped so many precious points recently and must now concentrate on the basics to get back to winning ways and rebuild belief. He told Arsenal Player:
We are frustrated because the most important thing in a game is to finish with three points, which we have not done [much]. We haven’t been fighting like we did in the last six months because we lost a little confidence in ourselves and it is harder to win some games. We need to come back and help our team-mates with defending, attacking and a controlled passing movement. We didn’t lose our capacity physically or our technique, we just need to do more. We also need to come back to our basics, be simple and then the confidence will come back. When we get a win, it will be better and after we can play with more confidence, movement and try things we didn’t do before. We need to get back to this and when the results come back, we will be stronger.
If there’s one thing you can always rely on from Arsenal, it’s talking a good game, whether it’s the manager or any of the players. Now if they could just translate all that sensible spiel into on-pitch performances and points, we might yet pull off a minor miracle between now and the season’s end.
But as we all know, our margin for error has all but evaporated, so starting at Goodison Park on Saturday lunchtime, we simply have to walk the walk.