A trip to Goodison Park awaits us in the early kick-off on Saturday and I think it’s fair to say this game will shape the rest of the season.
Win, and the vague whiff of an unlikely Premier League triumph lingers on for another week or so. Anything less than three points and we can resign ourselves to the annual top four battle, wary of the chasing back, and casting envious eyes at those above.
Quite simply, we must come away with all three points.
Leicester are going to slip up at some point in these last eight or so games, I know it. But we cannot afford such a luxury. In truth, we probably need to win every single remaining game in the league if we want to take the title, and even then we will need favours.
Arsene says we have a good record at Goodison, but I remember it being very hit and miss. On their day, Everton are a very good side, and are capable of much more than they have shown at times this season.
The pace and power of Romelu Lukaku is an obvious threat and one that must be stifled. I expect Per Mertesaker to return to the line-up, to partner Laurent Koscielny in the heart of defence.
I hope, and expect, Wenger to persist with the Elneny and Coquelin combination in midfield. For my money, it pays to have that double layer of security, particularly against a team that will inevitably attempt to catch us on the break.
If we can weather the early storm, I am hopeful we can impose ourselves on this Everton side. The Toffees seem to me to have developed a tendency to wilt under pressure (see West Ham last week) and I don’t see that they have the skill to be get through us if we defend cohesively.
The problem for Arsenal will be the same as it has been for the last few months: Who is going to get the goals?
Our front men were at their profligate best again on Wednesday in a game in which they weren’t under enormous pressure to go out and get a result.
With the need to win such as it is, efficiency in front of goal will be absolutely key. We have to convert the chances if and when they come. If we don’t, we will more than likely find ourselves of a season-ending defeat.
More than that, it will probably signal the beginning of the end of the Age of Wenger.
Let’s hope we go out with a fight, and not with a soggy, tear-soaked crank.
3-1 to Arsenal.