18/03/2016 – ArsenalShorts.Round-Up March 18, 2016
|| March 18th 2016 | Next >|
Can Arsenal Still Win the Premier League?
“Arsène Wenger and the 4th Official 1” (CC BY 2.0) by Ronnie Macdonald
This week, we crashed out of yet another competition after failing to beat Barcelona over two legs. Nobody was expecting us to turn the tie around but it now leaves us in contention for only one major trophy, the Premier League, this season.
Barcelona put out a full-strength squad minus Gerard Pique and continued their unbeaten streak of 38 games. We were resilient to begin with, as David Ospina made some great saves, and an early second-half wonder goal from Mohamed Elneny. But our boys couldn’t stop the inevitable as Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi put the game to bed in style. Suarez’s goal was an exquisite scissor kick into the top right hand corner from Dani Alves’s cross and Messi’s was a neat little chip over the goalkeeper.
Although we never really stood a chance of getting through this round after the 2-0 defeat at home, there were some positives to take from the game. First, we gave Barcelona a run for their money for much of the game, and registered plenty of shots on goal when forcing some excellent saves from Marc-Andre ter Stegen. Alexis Sanchez drilled in yet another supreme free-kick only to see it saved by the German at full stretch. Although the Chilean has struggled for form since returning from injury, he still looks lively and could be about to get into his groove again.
All that is left to fight for is the league title and some believe that is also out of our reach now. If we were displaying the same kind of form that we ended last season in, the top spot could well be within our grasp. But the thing is, we have been so inconsistent it is so hard to predict whether we will be able to put a string of victories together between now and the end of the season. At the time of writing we find ourselves with odds of 1/8 in the Bet365 football betting to make a top-four finish but anything less than a league win may spell the end of Wenger’s reign.
There is still a glimmer of hope that we can cling to. Now that we only have to focus on one competition, our boys can put all their effort into achieving that goal. There is certainly enough quality in the squad to get this done and the players just need to start believing again. The run-in is reasonably kind and all the April fixtures look winnable. Indeed, if we were to pick up maximum points between now and the end of April, we would find ourselves on 73 points with two games remaining. The average points total for champions since the Premier League went to 20 teams is 85.7 but this season is a special one and it looks like it will be won with far fewer points. We won the title in 1997/98 with 78 points so anything is possible.
It’s fair to say our season can’t get much worse now, so perhaps it will start getting a bit better.