THE Premier League finally has the green light to recommence in two weeks’ time, obviously behind closed doors.
We supporters of top-flight teams can drop our faux fascination with German football and begin to anticipate and consider what the break will have meant for our teams.
In the case of Arsenal, I can’t help but think the enforced break will have been a positive for Mikel Arteta as he will have a fuller squad to select from when his team face the daunting re-opener at Manchester City.
I am certainly salivating at the potential prospect of a rejuvenated Kieran Tierney and Bukayo Saka down the left, perhaps allowing skipper Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to operate closer to goal.
The pictures of the players at Colney suggest they are fighting fit and raring to go, but what is possible for this squad between now and the belated season end, with 10 matches left and so much to play for?
Arsenal currently lie ninth and are eight points of an official Champions League qualification berth, but perhaps only five if Man City's ban is upheld.
Realistically therefore to overhaul Manchester United in fifth, five points ahead of the Gunners, must be the target.
It should not be forgotten that the young Spaniard has had quite an impact and his team are unbeaten in the league in 2020, and before the lockdown had begun to convert the frustrating draws into hard fought wins.
One key advantage ironically is that with most of the fixtures being away, the advantage the home fans offer is not a factor.
Here are the remaining hurdles that face Arsenal between now and the end of the campaign:
Man City (A) – Unquestionably a tough first match but if anyone knows how to set up a team to frustrate and hurt the champions is will be Arteta.
That said, the best we can expect is a creditable draw. Prediction 2-2 (1 point).
Brighton (A) – The Seagulls has proved a tricky opponent for Arsenal of late, but I fear for their survival hopes and Arsenal will have too much for them. Prediction 1-3 (3 points).
Southampton (A) – The Saints are a highly unpredictable side this season, capable of surprise scalps and also shocking capitulations. I predict neither but a close away win for a resurgent Arsenal, 1-2 (3 points).
Norwich (H) – An easy win for The Arsenal here. Prediction 3-0 (3 points).
Wolves (A) – Wolves are an impressive outfit, and this is undoubtedly a difficult task. I feel Arsenal will have to settle for an away point. Prediction 1-1 (1 point).
Leicester (H) – I feel this match is critical and only a win will be any use to Arsenal at this point and that is what we will get.
A decisive 2-0 win for Arsenal with Arteta’s now well disciplined, pacier defence marshalling Jamie Vardy. (3 points).
Tottenham (A) – The intriguing prospect of a North London derby without the impressive and fierce atmosphere that would have played into the home side’s hands will be key to both rivals.
Spurs have been inconsistent under Jose Mourinho and I fancy Arsenal to bloody their noses, which could prove decisive in the quest for the Champions League. Prediction 1-2 (3 points).
Liverpool (H) – The games do not get easier, with the visit of the, by then, newly crowned champions.
That they will be relaxed might favour the home team, but I cannot see Arsenal preventing their potent strikers out. Prediction 2-2 (1 point).
Aston Villa (A) – I expect that the Villans may have been relegated at this point but either way if the Gunners still have a sniff of qualifying for Europe elite competition, they will have too much for Dean Smith’s beleaguered troops. Prediction 1-4 (3 points).
Watford (H) – The final match of this unusual, interrupted season sees the Hornets arrive in North London.
I anticipate Watford will have played their way to safety and their squad have one eye on the beach (if that is possible by then) and hence a comprehensive sign off by by Arteta’s team. Prediction 4-0 (3 points).
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