Arsenal restored their five-point lead at the top of the Premier League with a 4-0 win over Everton in midweek. That handsome victory saw them record three wins in a row in the league, following that damaging defeat at home to Manchester City - which many pundits thought would derail them.
Instead, Mikel Arteta has motivated his charges to take control of the title race once again. One thing they have been able to do this season is beat the teams they should beat on paper, and with Bournemouth, Crystal Palace, Fulham and Leeds United to come in their four league fixtures, they’ll hope that can continue.
Their only defeats this term have come to both Manchester clubs, and Everton in that shock loss to Sean Dyche’s new side. They’ve only drawn against Brentford, Newcastle and Southampton. Yeah - I’m not sure what happened at St Mary's either. The rest of their league games, 19 out of 25, have ended in wins.
If they continue this run of form, they have a huge chance at winning their first Premier League title since 2004. However, there are some hugely defining games still to comes. Every win is worth three points, but we’ve picked out five fixtures that could make or break Arsenal’s title charge.
Fulham v Arsenal - March 12
A London derby, and one that could trip the Gunners up. This game is not only a tricky encounter in its own right but comes sandwiched in between a two-legged Europa League tie with Sporting CP. That competition is one they simply don’t need to pay any attention to, given they are almost guaranteed to secure Champions League football next term with a top four finish.
Arteta should send out his second string for those two ties, and put his full focus into getting a win over Marco Silva’s resurgent Fulham. The Cottagers are currently on a run of seven games unbeaten and are challenging for the European places themselves. They’d love nothing more than to continue their good form and knock Arsenal off course.
Liverpool v Arsenal - April 9
Jurgen Klopp has overseen a poor campaign by his standards at Anfield, but in the last month things have begun to turn around. If you ignore the hammering at the hands of Real Madrid, Liverpool have won three of their last five in the league and with the like of Diogo Jota, Virgil van Dijk and Luis Diaz returning from injury could have a strong end to the season.
They are still pursuing a top four finish that looked unlikely for the first half of the season, and they can’t afford to drop any more points at Anfield if they are to achieve their goals. We’ve seen several times how Arsenal have collapsed under the pressure of Anfield - Arteta will need his men to hold firm on Merseyside if they are to go on and win the title.
Manchester City v Arsenal - April 26
A fairly obvious one. Depending on Manchester United’s fortunes, it could be a two-horse race by the time these two go toe-to-toe at the end of April. You feel Arsenal will have to maintain at least a three point buffer before visiting the Etihad to give themselves a chance of winning the Premier League, given the momentum Pep Guardiola is able to garner.
His Citizens have way more experience in these title run-ins and as we saw at the Emirates, have all the ability in their squad to beat Arsenal over 90 minutes. On home soil, you’d expect City to get the win, but how much of an impact it could have on the Gunners remains to be seen. Avoiding defeat could be monumental.
Arsenal v Chelsea - April 29
Three days after the midweek clash at City, Arsenal return to London to take on Chelsea. It is an easier game on paper given Chelsea’s struggles this season, but they still possess a squad capable of beating any team in the Premier League on their day. Graham Potter hasn’t quite got a tune out of them yet, but the statistics show that blue skies could be around the corner for Chelsea fans.
Whether they stick with Potter or press the panic button and get a new manager in, Arsenal could be facing a very different Chelsea side by the time April 29 rolls around. Two Premier losses in a row could spell curtains for their title challenge, while two wins could put one hand on the trophy.
Newcastle United v Arsenal - May 6
Eddie Howe’s Newcastle United have been so difficult to judge since the turn of the year. Their outrageously good first half of the season put them in the top four, but since then they have fallen away slightly, culminating in that Carabao Cup loss to Manchester United.
With Man City to play this weekend, the Magpies will have a big say in the title race, and after this match in May, there are just three games of the Premier League season remaining. If Arsenal can go to Liverpool, Manchester City and Newcastle and avoid defeat, they will have taken a major step towards glory.
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