Arsenal 2-1 Leicester: The fixtures favour Arsenal + Theo thoughts

Arsenal edged past Leicester on a nervous night at the Emirates Stadium. Our performance wasn’t much better than the one we produced at Spurs, and a side equipped with better finishers would surely have punished us. However, coming off the back of that defeat, this game was all about getting the points.

It’s our capacity to grind out those kinds of wins that has seen us regularly finish in the top four. Looking at our upcoming schedule, I’m confident we’ll repeat the feat this season. I’m grateful to We Are The North Bank for putting together this handy fixture list for the major top four contenders:

fixturesAfter this latest round of fixtures, we will be the only team in the race with seven home games. Given our impressive record at the Emirates, that’s a notable advantage. In fact, Johnny from Prague emailed me to point out that we don’t even leave London until the middle of March.

Looking at that list, a significant proportion of our games would have to be categorised as very winnable indeed. Only Southampton have a comparably straightforward set of fixtures, and they have a far weaker squad and lack experience of these tense climaxes to the domestic campaign. A third-place finish is a definite possibility.

Our performance against Leicester was not one particularly worthy of in-depth analysis. However, I did think Arseblog’s examination of Theo Walcott’s performance was interesting.

As regular listeners to the Arsecast Extra will know, I have doubts about how Theo will fit in to this team and squad moving forward. Taking his delicate contract situation into consideration, I think there’s a decent chance he could be sold this summer.

Over the past 24 hours I’ve been mulling over his general contribution (or lack thereof). I’m not entirely convinced that his tendency to run away from the ball is cowardice, it’s merely a constant desire to get in behind the back four. When his team-mates have the ball, his instinct is not to run in to a position to receive a sideways pass, but to put himself in an area where he can create a goalscoring opportunity. It may be selfish, but it may also be necessary. Unlike Lukas Podolski, his pace and movement stretches defences and offers a different kind of threat.

If Walcott was played as a conventional No. 9, would we interpret his habit of drifting out of games differently? I don’t remember Ian Wright or Nicolas Anelka contributing significantly to our combination play. Pippo Inzaghi could barely play a pass over six yards, but it never really mattered.

Although Walcott starts as a right winger, he plays much more like an out-and-out striker. With centre-forwards who drop deep and combine with midfield like Giroud, Alexis and Welbeck, that’s probably a luxury Arsenal can afford.

It’s not so much a defence of Theo, more an attempt to redefine the debate. He might line up on the right wing, but he’s a striker through and through.

Gunnerblog is the brainchild of childbrained football writer James McNicholas. Aside from Gunnerblog, James currently contributes to Bleacher Report, The Mirror and ESPN.

7 Comments

  1. Digant   •  

    Re: Theo,
    He may be a striker through and through but that doesn’t help Bellerin very much does it. He’s an inexperienced full back and even the best would struggle when it’s 2-on-1. To fit into this system as a starter on the right he needs to either ensure someone can cover him or get back himself.

    • 900ftGooner   •  

      My thought exactly. Sagna’s experience and physical presence made up for Theo’s tendency to drift. It’s really obvious with a less seasoned right back who doesn’t always get his positioning right, either.

      On the upcoming fixtures: I wouldn’t call Southampton’s schedule straightforward. They have to go to Chelsea, Everton, and Man City.

  2. Rich   •  

    I’m not convinced we’ll do it, Liverpool have momentum, Utd have no CL commitments.
    We’ve got through by the skin of our teeth one to many times.
    It’s always dangerous looking at other fixtures looking for favours, I think we’ll need to win 10/13, add potentially at least 4 CL games and we’re bound to draw one of Utd, Liverpool or away to Stoke sooner or later, maybe even 2 or 3 I’m not sure I believe in the quality or durability of our squad to cope with the rigours.
    If Spurs or Liverpool win the Europa, would then 5th place get a CL place?

  3. andres   •  

    Digant: Thats why i rate Coquelin´s performances lately, he is helping out Bellerin more than Walcott.
    Regarding the remaining fixture, not only we have home advantage, we´re also the team that faces less matches against top 7 opposition (just 3). Everybody is shock to see Man U third playing as bad as they are, but the good news is they will have a very thogh end of the season because thay have to face five top 7 teams besides visiting Everton

  4. Johnny   •  

    I would argue that Spurs not Southampton have a run in comparable to ours. Southampton have to play Liverpool, Chelsea, Spurs and Man City whereas Spurs have Man Utd, Southampton and Man City. A trio of fixtures which are probably easier than our three of Liverpool, Chelsea and Man Utd!

  5. Gucci Firenze Sede   •  

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