Happy Sunday! And what a glorious one it is.
A Sunday morning spring coffee is always one of my most zen moments of the week.
There is a chill in the air which awakens your senses, the hot sun beating on my skin and all IBC an hear is birds chirping. And the distant hum of the M11. I think I will grab another cuppa before starting my day.
Yesterday was a good day for Arsenal. Even though we did not play.
No one saw that Chelsea defeat coming. And the manner of the defeat will be concerning to the fans.
Losing 4-1 at home to a side in a relegation battle is never a good look. But the defeat comes on the backdrop of the Roman Abramovich sanctions, the clubs impending sale and Thomas Tuchel splitting from his wife.
They are clearly a club in turmoil off the pitch, and it was only a matter of time until that translated on the pitch.
Chelsea have a Champions League game against Real Madrid mid-week before visiting Southampton.
Whilst yesterday was there first league defeat in 6 games, you feel they could be on the brink of imploding.
What the lose to Brentford does is re-open 3rd place as a genuine target. We beat Crystal Palace on Monday (by no means an easy feat) and the gap is closed to just 2 points.
Also dropping points in the race for the top 4 was Manchester United.
A 1-1 draw at home to Leicester City is a disaster for them. Now 3 points behind us, we have two games in hand (the first of which is the game against Palace tomorrow).
It is getting to the point where we will start talking about “maximum points” that our opponents can get.
If Manchester United win their last 8 games, they will be on 75 points. Realistically they are not going to go on an 8 game winning streak.
It wasn’t just the draw against Leicester City, but the performance.
Man U were toothless, passionless and clueless.
They played without a striker and seemed to be playing without a game plan.
Scott McTominay eas lucky to stay on the pitch. And whilst VAR was right to rule out a second Leicester goal, you do feel if that was a Manchester United goal it would have stood.
That highlights the problem with VAR.
Whilst offside now no longer has a grey area – you are either on or off; fouls and what is deemed “clear and obvious” is still subjective.
I do think yesterday was a clear abs obvious decision. Kelechi Iheanacho did foul Varane. But it is one of those that you feel referees would decide it wasn’t a clear and obvious error if it was in favour of Manchester United in front of the Stretford End or Liverpool in front of the Kop.
Regardless, it is 2 points dropped for Manchester United and 3 points dropped for Chelsea.
Today Tottenham face Newcastle at home. I do not expect any slip-ups from them. But then again we have to remember teams are playing the “new Newcastle” who have shown top 4 form since February 1st. Not the old one that showed bottom 4 form for the first 20 games of the season.
If (and it is a big if) Tottenham do drop points, it will be a fantastic weekend for Arsenal without even playing.
Monday we travel to Palace and they showed against Manchester City that they are difficult to break down.
With their array of exciting forward talent – Zaha, Mateta, Olise and Eze – they are dangerous on the break.
Manchester City understood this which led them to play cautiously against them; not committing too many men forward on attacks.
Palace play with a deep defence and pace on attack. They will be a threat.
One last thing, our friends at Kick Off Merchants have just released their new 1988 inspired collection. Well worth a look if you have a home bar or looking for a gift ideas!
Enjoy your Sunday!