Arsenal legends believe Premier League title race isn’t over

Former Arsenal strikers and club legends Thierry Henry and Alan Smith believe that the Premier League title race isn’t over yet despite Chelsea being four points clear of the Gunners with two games in hand.

“If they beat Chelsea, they will put some doubt in their mind,” Henry said on Sky Sports while talking after Arsenal’s 1-0 win against Burnley.

“But there is one thing I want to go back to what Aaron Ramsey said. He said, and we clearly understood because he said it two or three times, that he doesn’t like it much playing on the right of midfield. But this will do a job for the team.

“The run they are on is because they are doing things they don’t like, but they do it for the team. That’s why they are doing what they are doing, and maybe why they didn’t perform at the start of the season because they were not doing it,” the Frenchman added.

Embed from Getty Images

Alan Smith agreed with Henry and thinks that Arsenal can put pressure on Chelsea if they win when the sides clash at the Emirates Stadium in two weeks time.

“They have to beat [Chelsea] if they are going to win the league, and that will put doubt in the mind of Jose Mourinho’s players,” Smith said.

“The way they’re playing, they’ve got more than enough going forward to make chances and score. Even against a defence like Chelsea’s.

“But they can’t afford any slip-ups you would probably say because you really cannot see Chelsea dropping many other points.”

Do you agree with Thierry Henry and Alan Smith? Can Arsenal win the Premier League this season?

Advertisements

Arsenal invincible says Gunners deserve to be champions this season

Former French international and Arsenal invincible, Robert Pires believes the club have done enough to deserve to be crowned champions of the Premier League this season.

Chelsea have led the way for much of the season and remain six points clear of second-placed Manchester City and a further one point ahead of Arsenal in third.

But Pires believes Arsenal would have been deserved winners this season.

“In my opinion, this year, Arsenal deserved to be champion, and they won’t be far away,” Pires told Perform.

Embed from Getty Images

“I think, once more, there will be some little regrets at the end of the season.”

Arsenal are still to face leaders Chelsea at the Emirates on Sunday, April 26, in a match which could be too late for any impact on who is to be crowned champions.

The Gunners are forever compared to the invincible side of 2003/04 and Pires admits its frustrating for so many Arsenal sides to be so close to the same quality.

“It’s tough and frustrating for the fans. Every time, Arsenal is close,” he added.

“It’s because of the important games that you can’t lose, against Chelsea, City and United.

Embed from Getty Images

“But this is the difference. Because against the smaller teams, sometimes there is a misstep or an accident.”

Arsenal take on Liverpool on Saturday in a key clash in the race for the top four and the Gunners can go into second with a win.

Is Robert Pires right to claim Arsenal deserve to have won the league this year?

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Arsenal vs Liverpool

Competition: Premier League – Arsenal vs Liverpool

Venue: Emirates Stadium – Saturday, April 4 – 12:45 BST (07:45 EDT)

Match Odds: Arsenal 4/5 – Draw 13/5 – Liverpool 100/30

Match Preview

Arsenal and Liverpool clash at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday lunchtime in the Premier League‘s stand-out fixture of the weekend.

These two sides have been the best Premier League teams in 2015 so far and this game represents another huge moment in the race for Champions League qualification, with Liverpool five points adrift of fourth and six points behind third-placed Arsenal.

Defeat for Liverpool in this game will leave them desperately playing catch-up and they arguably need to go all out for the win to stand any chance of making the top four.

Embed from Getty Images

Meanwhile, Arsenal can heap the pressure on Manchester City as a win would see them leapfrog City into second, even if only for a few hours.

The Gunners are on an impressive run of six straight wins in the league and have lost just twice in their last 15 games, winning 12 and drawing one.

Liverpool have also been in great form and their 2-1 defeat at home to Manchester United last time out was their first Premier League loss in 14 matches after they’d been on a 13-game unbeaten run, consisting of ten wins and three draws.

Arsenal’s main man in recent weeks has been the in-form striker Olivier Giroud – the Frenchman has scored nine goals in his last nine games in all competitions as well as six in his last five Premier League matches.

Embed from Getty Images

Arsene Wenger will certainly be hoping that Giroud and his Arsenal teammates can continue from where they left off following the international break.

Brendan Rodgers will be urging his players to call upon the performance that famously ripped Arsenal apart at Anfield in that 5-1 win back in February 2014.

The reverse fixture between these two sides this season ended as a 2-2 draw in dramatic fashion as a 97th minute header from Martin Skrtel rescued a point for the Reds after goals from Mathieu Debuchy and Olivier Giroud had given Arsenal the lead following Philippe Coutinho‘s opener.

Embed from Getty Images

Team News

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (hamstring) remains out for Arsenal, while Danny Welbeck suffered a knee injury on international duty but could still make the squad. Mathieu Debuchy, Mikel Arteta, Jack Wilshere and Abou Diaby all featured in a friendly against Brentford on Tuesday but it is unlikely any of them will play due to lack of match sharpness. Tomas Rosicky could also return to the squad following illness.

Liverpool will be without skipper Steven Gerrard as he begins a three-match ban following his red card against Manchester United. Martin Skrtel is also unavailable after he was suspended retrospectively for a stamp on David De Gea. Jon Flanagan remains out with injury, while Adam Lallana (groin), Dejan Lovren (abdominal) and Daniel Sturridge (groin) are all trying to recover and could be doubtful. Youngster Jordan Ibe is also out injured.

Embed from Getty Images

Key Points

Arsenal’s last five in the Premier League: W/W/W/W/W

Liverpool’s last five in the Premier League: W/W/W/W/L

Key Stat: Arsenal have only lost one out of their last 14 games at home to Liverpool in the Premier League (W7, D6).

Key Player: Aaron Ramsey – The Welshman is starting to show glimpses of the incredible performances we saw last season and his goals from midfield between now and the end of the season will be crucial – his battle with Jordan Henderson will be one to watch.

Embed from Getty Images

Score Prediction

Arsenal 2-1 Liverpool – Arsenal are on a great run of form and Liverpool are missing a few key players. This will be a tight but very entertaining game and the Gunners should just edge it with the home advantage.

Man City, Arsenal & Tottenham the masters in late Premier League goals

Manchester City and Arsenal are the two sides that have scored the most goals in the last ten minutes of Premier League games so far this season.

Manuel Pellegrini and Arsene Wenger have both seen their sides score 13 times in the 80th minute and onwards – some of which have had a crucial impact on where they sit in the league table as it stands.

Tottenham are the next best team when it comes to grabbing late goals, while Aston Villa are the least likely to score in the dying embers of a game as this table shows:

Premier League goals scored in the last 10 minutes (2014/15 season)

Goals in last 10 minutes (2014/15 PL season)

Crucial late goals for Arsenal this season:

  • 16 August – Aaron Ramsey vs. Crystal Palace (91st minute) to make it 2-1
  • 23 August – Olivier Giroud vs. Everton (90th minute) to make it 2-2
  • 18 October – Danny Welbeck vs. Hull City (91st minute) to make it 2-2
  • 03 December – Alexis Sanchez vs. Southampton (89th minute) to make it 1-0
Embed from Getty Images

Crucial late goals for Manchester City this season:

  • 13 September – Martin Demichelis vs. Arsenal (83rd minute) to make it 2-2
  • 21 September – Frank Lampard vs. Chelsea (85th minute) to make it 1-1
  • 08 November – Sergio Aguero vs. QPR (83rd minute) to make it 2-2
  • 07 February – James Milner vs. Hull City (92nd minute) to make it 1-1

Despite Man City and Arsenal having scored more late goals than any other team, neither of them have rescued as many points as Tottenham have in the last few minutes of a game.

Spurs have made a habit of leaving it late to break the hearts of their opponents and have done so on seven occasions.

Embed from Getty Images

Crucial late goals for Tottenham Hotspur this season:

  • 16 August – Eric Dier vs. West Ham (93rd minute) to make it 1-0
  • 02 November – Harry Kane vs. Aston Villa (90th minute) to make it 2-1
  • 23 November – Christian Eriksen vs. Hull City (90th minute) to make it 2-1
  • 14 December – Christian Eriksen vs. Swansea (89th minute) to make it 2-1
  • 17 January – Christian Eriksen vs. Sunderland (88th minute) to make it 2-1
  • 07 February – Harry Kane vs. Arsenal (86th minute) to make it 2-1
  • 22 February – Harry Kane vs. West Ham (96th minute) to make it 2-2
Embed from Getty Images

Without these late goals, Tottenham would be a staggering 13 points worse off than their current overall tally of 53 which would see them down in 11th place with just 40 points – so the late saviours have been essential to Mauricio Pochettino‘s side this season.

Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane have both scored three times in the final moments of matches and it goes to show not only how unforgiving the Premier League can be, but also how entertaining it is with a remarkable 122 goals scored in the final ten minutes of all games.

It also begs the question of how many fans will have missed vital goals by leaving a game early?

Aaron Ramsey says fellow Arsenal midfielder has been ‘superb’

Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey has heaped further praise on the performances of defensive midfielder Francis Coquelin this season.

“He’s been really good, he went out on loan and then as soon as he came back he was thrown straight in and he’s done really well,” Ramsey said while talking to Arsenal’s official website.

Francis Coquelin has made an instant impact since breaking into the first-team and only Morgan Schneiderlin of Southampton has made more tackles-per-game than him in the Premier League, which is just one of a whole array of impressive stats that the Frenchman boasts.

Embed from Getty Images

“He’s very aggressive and doesn’t give the opposition much time on the ball and that’s why he wins so many tackles and makes us tick over,” Ramsey added.

“It’s been really good to see his development this year and he’s had a superb couple of months now, so hopefully he can continue that.”

Don’t miss: Is Francis Coquelin as good as Nemanja Matic?

Ramsey’s season has been slightly hampered by injury but he’s still managed to notch four Premier League goals and three assists from just 16 starts.

Embed from Getty Images

The Welsh international believes that having a disciplined player like Coquelin behind him in central midfield is ideal.

“It’s quite comforting knowing that one of the midfielders are behind you in a good position, thinking more defensively.

“It’s something that he does really well and hopefully in the good form that he’s in, he can carry that on.”

Have you been impressed with Francis Coquelin’s performances for Arsenal?

Liverpool legend reveals club ‘would love to sign’ Arsenal star

Theo Walcott‘s contract talks with Arsenal have been halted until the end of the season, prompting suggestions of a move away from the club and former Liverpool defender, Jamie Carragher has revealed that Walcott would be a welcome addition to Brendan Rodgers’ side.

Walcott, who has been at Arsenal since 2006, is struggling to get into the current side and has made just eight league appearances this season.

His absence from the squad has been mainly due to the injury he suffered back in early January last year, which kept him out until October. Walcott then suffered a further setback in November 2014, with a groin strain keeping him out for a month.

Since his return to fitness Walcott has made just six appearances and Jamie Carragher believes Arsenal’s quality attacking options haven’t helped Walcott.

Embed from Getty Images

“He’s a good player but is struggling to get into the Arsenal team with their top attacking players,” Carragher said in his weekly column for Sky Sports.

“If he was available then I’m sure any Liverpool fan, player or manager would love to see him at the club.”

Walcott’s Arsenal career has been plagued with injuries and his best run in the squad was arguably back in the 2012/13 season, where he made 32 Premier League appearances, scoring 14 goals.

If he can stay injury-free he is capable of producing that high quality form on a consistent basis but whether that is to be with Arsenal has not yet been confirmed.

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Newcastle vs Arsenal

Competition: Premier League – Newcastle United vs Arsenal

Venue: St James’ Park – Saturday, March 21 – 15:00 GMT (11:00 ET)

Match Odds: Newcastle 9/2 – Draw 3/1 – Arsenal 4/7

Match Preview

Newcastle battle Arsenal at St James’ Park on Saturday afternoon as both sides are looking for vital Premier League wins with the international break looming.

A win for Newcastle will push them closer to a position in the top half of the table, whereas Arsenal are now in a battle for second with reigning champions Manchester City.

Newcastle take to Arsenal having only won only twice since the turn of the new year – a complete contrast to their opponents Arsenal, who have lost only twice since then.

The Magpies are bouncing back from a crushing 3-0 defeat at Everton last week, which would have knocked the stuffing out of them as they only managed a measly four shots-on-target compared to Everton’s nine.

Embed from Getty Images

Arsenal are coming off a superb win away at AS Monaco in the Champions League but have again failed at the last-16 hurdle for a fifth straight season.

A win for Arsenal would see them further grasp their hold on the top four position and with the form they are in at the moment, it’s easy to see why the Gunners are being tipped to finish in those all important Champions League places.

The reverse fixture at the Emirates Stadium in December saw Arsenal run out comfortable 4-1 winners over Newcastle with the red hot Olivier Giroud grabbing two goals along the way, with Santi Cazorla also contributing two.

Embed from Getty Images

Team News

Newcastle United will still be without Papiss Cisse who is serving a suspension. Captain Fabricio Coloccini begins his three-match ban following his sending off against Everton last weekend, while Cheick Tiote, Paul Dummett and Siem De Jong remain long term absentees, hampering Newcastle of key players heading into this one.

Arsenal also have a few injury concerns of their own with Alex Oxlade Chamberlain out, along with other notable injuries to former magpie Mathieu Debuchy who could return to training in a few weeks. Mikel Arteta and Jack Wilshere are still recovering so will be unavailable, but they could both be back before the end of the season.

Key Points

Newcastle United’s last five in the Premier League: D/L/W/L/L

Arsenal’s last five in the Premier League: W/W/W/W/W

Key Stat: Arsenal last lost to Newcastle in November 2010 thanks to a solitary Andy Carroll goal.

Key Player: Olivier Giroud – The Frenchman has five goals in his last five games against Newcastle.

Embed from Getty Images

Score Prediction

Newcastle 0-3 Arsenal – Olivier Giroud will spearhead the attack as Arsenal heap more misery on John Carver’s Toon Army in their own backyard.

Premier League Preview and Prediction: QPR vs Arsenal

Competition: Premier League – Queens Park Rangers vs Arsenal

Venue: Loftus Road – Wednesday, March 4th – 19:45 GMT (14:45 ET)

Match Odds: QPR 9/2 – Draw 100/30 – Arsenal 8/15

Match Preview

Queens Park Rangers welcome Arsenal to Loftus Road on Wednesday night for a London derby that has implications for both sides at opposite ends of the Premier League table.

QPR are currently 18th and positioned ominously in the relegation zone. However, they do have two games in hand over 17th placed Aston Villa and one game in hand over 19th placed Burnley as the battle for survival intensifies.

Arsenal recovered from last week’s devastating Champions League knockout round first-leg defeat at home to Monaco with a hard fought 2-0 win over Everton on Sunday as they look to keep on track for a top-four finish.

Embed from Getty Images

Stand-in managerial team Chris Ramsey and Kevin Bond inspired QPR to an impressive 2-0 away win at Sunderland three weeks ago, but that’s the club’s only win in their last nine Premier League games (D2, L6). They also haven’t recorded a victory over any team in the top 12 this season.

The Hoops will be looking to take inspiration from their relatively good home form though, as 19 out of their 22 points have come when playing at Loftus Road.

Arsenal have been in good Premier League form with nine wins from their last 12 games, which has lifted them up to third place and the Gunners are now just four points behind Manchester City.

However, it’s still very tight and the chasing pack will be ready to pounce on any slip-ups with just seven points separating Arsene Wenger’s side and seventh-placed Tottenham who also have a game in hand.

Embed from Getty Images

Goals from Alexis Sanchez and Tomas Rosicky helped Arsenal to a 2-1 win over QPR in the reverse fixture on Boxing Day, with Charlie Austin’s late penalty setting up a nervy finish, but the Gunners held on.

Loftus Road is one of the smaller pitches in the Premier League and QPR will try and make life difficult for Arsenal with a tight, compact performance, as they did back in March 2012 when a Samba Diakite strike helped them beat the Gunners 2-1.

Team News

QPR will be without skipper Joey Barton who is serving a three-match ban following his red card at Hull. Leroy Fer (knee), Richard Dunne (knee), and Alejandro Faurlin (knee) will all miss out through injury. Nedum Onuoha, Mauricio Isla, Niko Kranjcar and Sandro could return to the squad following injuries.

Embed from Getty Images

Arsenal are still without the injured Mikel Arteta (ankle), Mathieu Debuchy (shoulder), Abou Diaby (calf), Mathieu Flamini (hamstring) and Jack Wilshere (ankle). Midfielder Aaron Ramsey will return to the squad following injury. Francis Coquelin took a knock to the face against Everton at the weekend and will be checked over by medical staff but will need to wear a protective face mask should he play.

Key Points

QPR’s last five in the Premier League: L/L/L/W/L

Arsenal’s last five in the Premier League: W/L/W/W/W

Key Stat: The last five Premier League games between QPR and Arsenal have finished 1-0 or 2-1 to either side, so we can expect a tight encounter.

Embed from Getty Images

Key Player: Charlie Austin – The Englishman has notched 14 goals this season and QPR will need their free-scoring striker to be at his absolute best if they’re to get anything from the game. He can cause problems for any defence on his day so Arsenal will have to be wary of the threat Austin poses.

Score Prediction

QPR 1-2 Arsenal – This may not be a free-flowing classic and Arsenal may have to grind out a result against a QPR side fighting for their lives.

Are Arsenal set to record their worst ever season under Arsene Wenger?

Arsenal are currently fifth in the Premier League table and find themselves in a real battle to achieve a top-four finish and qualify for Champions League football for the 18th consecutive season.

For the past ten years, it has at times looked as though the Gunners may finally let one of those top four slots slip through their hands, but each time Arsene Wenger has managed to galvanise the team and get them over the line, often by the skin of their teeth – most notably in 2005/06, 2011/12 and 2012/13 when they narrowly pipped North London rivals Tottenham to the post each time.

This season, Tottenham are once again in fine form, Southampton have burst onto the scene seemingly out of nowhere, while Manchester United and Liverpool are also in hot pursuit.

Embed from Getty Images

Arsenal’s own inconsistency throughout this campaign has left them in a tricky spot once again and they’ve only managed three consecutive wins on one occasion.

The Gunners are currently on track to come worryingly close to recording their equal lowest points tally in Arsene Wenger’s entire 19-year reign at the club.

Previous lowest points tallies under Arsene Wenger:

  • 2005/06 – 67 points
  • 2006/07 – 68 points
  • 2010/11 – 68 points

Arsenal stats 2014/15

Defeat to Crystal Palace when they face the South London side at Selhurst Park this weekend would mean that their projected points total would fall to 65, signalling the possibility of the lowest overall tally recorded by an Arsenal team managed by Wenger.

These are just projected numbers and stats don’t mean everything of course – many will recall Arsenal’s impressive run-in at the end of the 2012/13 season when they won 10 of their final 13 games, losing just one.

Embed from Getty Images

Some will also argue that Arsenal’s remaining fixtures are favourable, as they face eight teams from the bottom half of the table, although points already dropped against Leicester, Hull, Stoke and Swansea this season would suggest that the Gunners can ill afford to lose focus and the pressure to perform now is extremely high.

Every game becomes a must win fixture to ensure they can keep momentum as well as forcing the teams around them into mistakes through the stress of having to keep up with the pace.

One thing that is guaranteed is an exciting race to the European qualification finish line.

Will Arsenal record their lowest ever points tally under Wenger? And will they qualify for Champions League football?

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Arsenal vs Aston Villa

Competition: Premier League

Venue: Emirates Stadium – Sunday, February 1 – 13:30

Match Odds: Arsenal 2/9 – Draw 9/2 – Aston Villa 14/1

Arsenal welcome Aston Villa to the Emirates Stadium on Sunday afternoon as the Gunners look to continue their recent good form in the hunt for a top-four finish.

The North London side are on a run of four straight wins, which represents their best period of consecutive victories the season, and have lost just once in their last ten (in all competitions).

They’ve also only lost one game out of ten when playing on home soil in this campaign and haven’t lost a game against a team from the bottom half of the table, home or away (W 7, D 3).

Arsene Wenger has said that new signing Gabriel Paulista could be in the squad after the 24-year-old centre back joined from Spanish side Villarreal this week.

Embed from Getty Images

Arsenal’s home record: Played 10 – Won 6 – Drawn 3 – Lost 1

Aston Villa have very different aspirations for the rest of the season, and their only priority will be ensuring they don’t find themselves in a struggle to avoid relegation, but it may be too late as they sit just three points above the drop zone.

They do have a good record when playing at the Emirates Stadium though, having won three times at Arsenal since their move from Highbury, as well as picking up two draws. They’ve lost just three times out of eight visits.

Embed from Getty Images

Having said that, they haven’t scored a Premier League goal for five consecutive games now, and have managed just one goal in their last seven – a very worrying trend.

It’s a well documented fact that Villa have struggled desperately to score goals, with just 11 all season. To put it into perspective, Arsenal’s star-man Alexis Sanchez has notched 12 on his own.

Aston Villa’s away record: Played 11 – Won 3 – Drawn 2 – Lost 6

On paper, it looks as though it should be an easy home victory, but Arsenal must maintain their high intensity and focus in order to make sure this game isn’t a banana skin.

Embed from Getty Images

[Arsenal ran out 3-0 winners in the reverse fixture back in September]

Aston Villa will be delighted with a point away at Arsenal given the current situation, so we can expect them to defend from deep and attempt to hurt their opponents on the break and from set-pieces.

Arsenal’s last five: W/W/L/W/W

Aston Villa’s last five: L/D/D/L/L

Key Stat: Aston Villa haven’t beaten a side from the top seven in the league this season.

Key Player: Olivier Giroud – The big Frenchman comes under a lot of criticism and should get more credit for the great job he does when leading the line for Arsenal – he is crucial.

Embed from Getty Images

Arsenal vs. Aston Villa Prediction: Arsenal 3-0 Aston Villa – The Gunners to cruise to victory and remain on track.