Monday, 16 December 2013

Arsenal Facing A Mammoth Month In March

The Champions League draw was made today and Arsenal were among the group of lower seeds after finishing second in their group behind Borussia Dortmund. The list of potential opponents for them was almost a frightening one with Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and PSG the five possible teams. The toughest draw possible would have been to get the current champions and that's exactly who Arsenal got.

The home leg will be played on Wednesday February 19th with the return leg in Munich on Tuesday March 11th. It's a huge challenge for Arsenal to face the reigning champions, but they did come very close to putting them out at the same stage last year. Bayern won the first leg in London 3-1 and Arsenal won the return game 2-0 to go out on away goals. That game was the catalyst for the form which saw Arsenal finish fourth in the league last season and sees them still on top of the league this season despite their defeat at the weekend.

That home leg in March will a few days after the FA Cup quarter finals and hopefully Arsenal will still be in the FA Cup at that stage. After the Bayern game Arsenal will have three league games which could well be decisive in their title challenge as long as they are still challenging at that point. A few days after Bayern it's a trip to local rivals Spurs with a trip to Chelsea a week later followed by a home game with City.

It could be an incredibly important run of five games for Arsenal and hopefully there will be an awful lot depending on those games for them. There's nothing quite like seeing your team playing against the very best teams at the stage in the season where it matters most of all. If Arsenal can still be challenging for three trophies in March it could be the month to make or break their season. 

Of course there's plenty of games to go between now and them and Arsenal need to get back on track after losing 6-3 to City on Saturday. Their lead at the top of the league has been cut to two points and they will probably lose that lead if they don't beat Chelsea. It's not overly important who is on top of the league until the season is actually over, but the longer Arsenal can stay there the better for their confidence in my opinion. 

Chelsea won't be an easy opponent next Monday night but Arsenal will have home advantage and Chelsea aren't exactly firing on all cylinders at the moment. They have struggled in recent weeks against Crystal Palace, Stoke and Sunderland and Arsenal are far better than any of those teams. I'm not saying it will be an easy task for Arsenal but the nine day break they have before the game will be vitally important for the players to recharge their batteries and focus on the challenges ahead.

While Arsenal are preparing for that game Chelsea will have a Capital One Cup quarter final against Sunderland and United, City and Spurs are all in quarter final action too. I'm hoping all four of them win, even though it would be great to see any or all of them lose, because they would all have two legged semi finals between themselves in January. The harder the time they have the better it has to be for Arsenal and the thought of City and Chelsea possibly facing each over two legs is one which really appeals to me. 

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

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