Everton and Napoli games should define Arsenal's season
Forget the looming encounter with free scoring Manchester City. Dismiss the awaited return of "The Special One" and his cohorts in the Chelsea ranks. To paraphrase Obi-Wan Kenobi, These are not the games you're looking for. Instead, focus on this: If Arsenal beat Everton on Sunday, there will be a 10 point gap between themselves, and falling out of the Champions League qualification places. And as Jose Mourinho himself said, "10 points, is a gap" (as apposed to the 4 between Chelsea and Arsenal currently), and not one which is easily bridged!
Given the furore at the start of the season when Arsenal lost to Aston Villa, Champions League football looked to be, "as per usual", some cynics might say, the most they could hope for out of this season. Top of the pile 14 games on, with 2 more wins than any other team, this could be, and indeed has been, forgotten, with the sort of gusto usually reserved for forgetting such things as.., as.., ah, I had an example but it's gone now. The case for the prosecution rests! However, I believe for now, this is exactly the mentality which could then propel Arsenal onward.
Establish qualification for Champions League football early in the season, in much the same way as Southampton have all but ensured they will not be involved in a relegation dogfight, and then relax and play without tension. Play with expression knowing that the goal for the season is already attained. Beat Everton on Sunday and while it's obviously not certain, overhauling 10 points, while all the other teams in the top 4 are also winning, (when they all have to play each other again at least once), seems unlikely enough that any bookmaker would probably feel guilty in taking a bet against Arsenal being in the elite league again next season.
Which leaves Napoli. Avoid a heavy defeat there, (which in all honesty is only likely to happen if a player has a rush of blood to the head and gets himself sent off early on), and progression to the knock out rounds is secured. "As per usual", most Arsenal fans would proclaim, with one eye on the aforementioned cynics. This means, for any top striker looking to further his World Cup chances, Arsenal are an ideal destination.
As long as Arsenal beat Everton, they can afford not to win against Man City and Chelsea, and even if they lose to Jose's and Pellegrini's teams, they will only be a maximum of 2 points under the leaders. Lose to Everton as well though , and the possibility of a 10 point gap from 5th, could swiftly turn into Arsenal looking up at Everton, 2 points behind them, Everton in 4th, and Arsene Wenger wondering where it all went wrong, from the 5th place he could've all but forgotten about if it wasn't for Roberto Martinez and his pesky kids.
The same pesky kids who have lost less games than Arsenal this season, and just beaten last years champions at Old Trafford, a place Arsenal lost at only a few weeks ago....
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