Arsenal have just ten games left of the Premier League season between them and qualifying for the Champions League for the first time in half a decade. Mikel Arteta’s side have put in a monumental effort since their opening three defeats of the season.
Just four losses have occurred in that time building up some much-needed consistency. The away form has improved dramatically with Arsenal winning their last five successive league matches.
Tottenham and Manchester United, Arsenal’s top-four rivals, have comparatively more favourable matches remaining. Spurs in particular will be encouraged by their annoyingly good-looking nine games. Therefore, sifting through the Gunners’ final ten matches, I’ve ranked them regarding difficulty and it just made things scarier. At least I’m honest.
What was more surprising than Everton being in a relegation scrap was replacing Rafa Benitez with a head coach who has even less experience of being in one. Frank Lampard’s side have suffered massively as a result and a last-minute winner against Newcastle has papered over the cracks.
I still have nightmares of Arsenal’s loss at Goodison Park this season and if we miss out on top four by two or fewer points, it will become a forever fixture for me. However, that being said, at home Arsenal should have plenty to overcome an increasingly poor side that could still go down despite a managerial change.
9. Leeds (Home)
Leeds too replaced Marcelo Bielsa with another coach with no experience of fighting a relegation scrap. Jesse Marsch though is a much more experienced manager than Lampard and Leeds United’s slight improvement is evidence of this.
However, the side still remains very vulnerable and Arsenal’s domination of possession and increase in goal output should give them enough to be able to overcome Leeds. If they cannot, perhaps the top four is coming too soon for them anyway.
8. Brighton (Home)
Brighton were a side that promised much but have eventually delivered very little. Graham Potter was even being touted as a Mikel Arteta replacement at the start of the season. How things change, and quickly.
Brighton have lost their last five and will be fortunate to play Norwich City before they travel to north London on the 9th of April. Again, like those already covered, the Arsenal class of 2022 should have more than enough to win a home match with the Seagulls, failing to do so would massively undermine their top-four credentials.
7. Southampton (Away)
Moving into the trickier fixtures. Southampton away was a tie that could surprise the Gunners. However, the Saints have yet to beat Arsenal at St. Mary’s in the league since 2018. A 2-0 and 3-1 home loss followed and the Gunners should be targeting a similar style victory this time around.
That being said, it is an opportunity to check out James Ward-Prowse. He could perhaps be a shrewd signing for the Gunners to make this summer.
6. Newcastle (Away)
Had this fixture been several months ago, it would have been nowhere near this high on the list. That is a testament to the work of Eddie Howe and their actions in the winter transfer window. Bruno Guimaraes will be the narrative, but Arsenal again cannot afford a slip up in the northeast.
Newcastle are a side surprising many and after eight successive losses to Arsenal, it would take another shock to see the Gunners drop points here. I say, if Everton can do it, Arsenal, wait, anyone can do it. Except for Norwich of course.
5. Crystal Palace (Away)
I hate this fixture. Not only because I have never been to Selhurst Park and seen Arsenal pick up all three points in the several trips to south London, but just because something always happens. Whether it’s a Mikel Arteta red card, a Wilfried Zaha dive or the irony that Patrick Vieira might win out this contest, something is bound to happen.
Thankfully, Arsenal have been a side to break these silly superstitions. Hence why their points tally against Leicester City, Aston Villa and Wolves has risen from three points of 18 last campaign to getting a maximum total this season. Crystal Palace, you’re next.
4. Manchester United (Home)
One of the two absolute ‘cannot afford to lose games’ in our remaining roster of cup finals. Gifting Manchester United a double over us in one of their worst ever seasons in the Premier League would be an outright failure.
Arsenal are such a better team than what Ralf Rangnick has been gaffer taping together these past few weeks. It is the only home match of the clashes with top-four rivals and Arsenal must win. If only to see a miserable expression on Cristiano Ronaldo’s face.
3. West Ham (Away)
West Ham too are a better team than Manchester United, especially at home. They are one of very few to boast a victory over Liverpool and they outright deserved it. Spurs came up against them at an opportune time and depending on their Europa League fortunes Arsenal may too.
It will nonetheless be a difficult game and the 3-3 comeback from last season during the Gunners’ end-of-season revival is yet more evidence. A win though would be another big statement and double over a historically tricky opponent.
2. Tottenham (Away)
Arsenal haven’t won at Tottenham in the league since Tomas Rosicky smashed home a brilliant effort in the opening moments of the 2014 tie. It has been too long since Arsenal supporters have been able to celebrate at their rivals’ home.
This season the implications of the fixture are arguably the biggest they have ever been. A 3-1 win at the Emirates is little encouragement since Antonio Conte has since taken over. Stop Harry Kane and Heung-min Son. That is the task, and that is the priority. But most of all win, please for the love of what is good and pure in the world just win.
1. Chelsea (Away)
When it was announced that Arsenal would face Chelsea three days before Manchester United travelled to the Emirates it was a case of saying, ‘Oh but of course.’ Arsenal fought off Villa in the same time frame after getting beaten by Liverpool the Wednesday evening three days prior.
Getting more than three points from these two games would be a major accomplishment. Mikel Arteta has won at Chelsea, in extremely fortunate circumstances granted. Yet, it proved it can be done and the Arsenal side that travels to a possibly Goonerless Stamford Bridge are a far superior side. But Chelsea remain the biggest challenge of the remaining fixtures and I’d still take a draw and leg it, no questions asked.