Arsenal’s season will stand or fall on their performances at home. Speaking at the beginning of February, Arsene Wenger told The Daily Mirror: “I think we know that our results at the Emirates will be massively important until the end.” It’s not a new message. As early as September, Wenger told Sky Sports:
If you look at the numbers, away from home, we have been remarkably consistent. At home we want of course to create the same consistency.
I believe we have a chance (to challenge for the title) and what is most important is that my full energy is to make sure we grab that chance.
He was right: Arsenal need the Emirates Stadium to become a fortress. In the next eight days, Arsenal face three home matches that will shape their season.
The fixtures encompass three different competitions. First, they face Manchester United in the Premier League. Having been thrashed by Liverpool at the weekend, Arsenal need a victory to reassert their title credentials and show they can beat the biggest teams.
The Gunners have won only one of their last 10 encounters with United. This week, they must start to redress that record.
Following the clash with United, Arsenal have a chance for immediate revenge on Liverpool, this time in the FA Cup.
Although their 5-1 defeat at Anfield was a harrowing experience, the Gunners do have November’s 2-0 victory at the Emirates in the Premier League to draw confidence from. The FA Cup still represents Arsenal’s most direct route to a trophy: Wenger’s team are just four wins from lifting silverware.
Then, Arsenal host Bayern Munich in a reprise of last season’s two-legged tussle. In 2012-13, Arsenal sunk to a 3-1 loss in the home leg, effectively killing the tie. Although they went on to produce an extraordinary 2-0 win in the Allianz Arena, it wasn’t enough to qualify for the next round. They’ll be absolutely determined to produce a positive result in this game and keep the contest alive heading in to the second leg.
It doesn’t end there for Arsenal and the Emirates. As the season approaches its climax, they also have a titanic home fixture against Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City.
Arsenal’s away form is stable. Heading in to the Liverpool game, they had the joint-best away record in the entire Premier League. However, home form tends to be what wins titles. Just ask Jose Mourinho: He has not lost a home league match as Chelsea manager. His Stamford Bridge performances have been the basis of his success—and it is his team who currently top the Premier League.
Heading in to this crucial run of fixtures, the signs are good for Arsenal. They have kept 10 clean sheets in their last 11 games at the Emirates Stadium. Against United, they’ll be keen to prove that their disastrous defending in Liverpool was a mere anomaly.
Arsenal have won six of their last eight games at the Emirates Stadium by two goals to nil. If they can replicate that scoreline over the next three games, their season will be on course for a thrilling climax.
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