The race for the top 4 is getting fiercer but the good thing is that Arsenal have their fate in their own hands. We win our remaining our next two matches and we are in the top 4 and by an extension the UEFA Champions League but it is not as straight forward as that. Arsenal will be playing two teams neck deep in relegation (Wigan and Newcastle). While that shouldn’t be a cause for concern because relegation threatened teams are not seen as good because if they were, they won’t be battling the drop but it is not always the size of the dog that determines which side the victory pendulum will swing to but it’s the size of the fight in the dog that does that. Arsenal will be battling two teams that have the motivation to escape the drop.
Of the two relegation battlers, Wigan is the team that scares Arsenal fans the more owing to the fact that they are a perennial strugglers and their manager Roberto Marinez has perfected the act of beating the drop. Last season, they put together a remarkable run which included victories over Manchester United and Arsenal at the Emirates that saw them escape the drop. Hence, the anxiety been expressed by fans isn’t misplaced.
But this season there is a little twist to their ambition. While they are locked in their usual relegation fight, they have a once in a lifetime opportunity of winning a title and not just any one but the prestigious English FA Cup. Wigan are through to the finals and will be playing Manchester City in Wembley. The match will be played on Saturday which means their clash against Arsenal earlier billed for the weekend has been postponed to Tuesday. The Lactics don’t have a large enough squad to cope with two intense matches in a space of 4 days which means they are likely going to set their priorities and choose which to pursue. Is it a chance of winning the FA Cup or trying to beat the drop by winning their two remaining games?
Whether or not they win the FA Cup, they have already made it into the Europa League but I believe Martinez would want to give winning the FA Cup a good shot because as a manager, he has never won a title neither have the Lactics ever won any top trophy in their history. The closest they’ve come to winning a trophy was in 2006 when they were runners-up to Manchester United in the Carling Cup that has now become the Capital One Cup under then manager Paul Jewel. If Wigan against all odds beat favourites Manchester City (which is very possible), Martinez would be their most successful manager and that would also help him win the race to succeed David Moyes
For them to stand a chance of beating City, they will have to play their best legs and also put in huge work ethic. If they win, they will be overjoyed and they might still be in celebratory mood by the time they would be playing Arsenal but if they loose, they could be demoralized which would also count against them when they visit the Emirates to play Arsenal.
Another thing that would count against them when they play Arsenal will be the fact that they have to win. A draw won’t do them any good especially if Newcastle and Sunderland win at the weekend. This means they cannot afford parking the bus against Arsenal, to stand a chance of getting the three points that would do their relegation fight a world of good, they would have to attack Arsenal and that would be their greatest undoing. Very few teams can stand Arsenal in an open attacking game.
Ahead of the game against Wigan, Arsenal have a great advantage. 10 days rest owing to Wigan’s FA Cup final date. The Gunners cannot complain of lethargy or tired legs. Even without FA Cup distraction for Wigan, Arsenal cannot afford to drop points after been done a world of favour by Chelsea to put our fate back in our hands not to talk of with a mega distraction like the FA Cup final. Wigan have been a perennial relegation escapee but this time around, their luck have ran out and they have themselves to blame after drawing against Tottenham and loosing to Swansea despite leading twice. They might not only be loosing their top flight status, they might also be loosing their manager come the end of the season.