Win this weekend and Arsenal title challenge will be back on track

Morning all.

A later than usual blog today. One of them mornings where it was a struggle to get out of bed!

This weekend could see any remaining hopes of us winning the title wiped out. A weekend where Manchester City could take a huge step forward in being crowned kings of England.

That is enough election / coronation puns for this blog. Maybe.

City host Leeds at 3pm, with the game on TV. It shows that the 3pm TV blackout rule can be disregarded if the authorities choose.

With the announcement by Sky that they will broadcast over 1,000 non-Premier League games from 2024, something surely has to give? And that will probably be the 3pm blackout.

Each League weekend fixture round will see 10 live EFL fixtures shown. I am not sure how they can fit them in, alongside Premier League football, without having them at 3pm.

If they do try and fit them in at all different hours, it will show once again that the broadcasters care little for match going fans. All the furore after the European Super League was only because they were not invited to the party and not because they wanted to speak up for fans.

Will be interesting to see how that social warrior and voice of the normal people Gary Neville responds to more games being moved away from 3pm. Surely he will speak up for match day fans? Talk against his employer?

Anyway, I can not see anything less than a City win today against Leeds. That will put them 4 points ahead with 4 games to go. We then face Newcastle tomorrow.

St James’ Park will not be an easy place to go. They are 3rd in the league for a reason and have only lost to Liverpool at home this season. Expect Newcastle to sit deep, and look to break quickly.

Arsenal will need to be the aggressors as Newcastle do not really need to win. This could lead to plenty of space at the back for Alexander Isak, Joe Willock et al to run into.

Mikel Arteta spoke yesterday, saying he was unsure if either William Saliba or Gabriel would be available for Newcastle.

Saliba is 100% out, and whilst Arteta did not go as far as ruling him out for the season, that is the likely scenario. We blogged back in April that it would be a surprise to see Saliba in an Arsenal shirt this season.

I think if we lose tomorrow, it would not make sense to try and bring Saliba back for those last few games. Let him go on his summer break a month early so that he is ready for next season.

Gabriel went off injured against Chelsea, and faces a fitness test today. If he is out, it will be Rob Holding and Jakub Kiwor at the back. And we need to back the boys.

For those bemoaning our lack of depth at the back, consider this.

Saliba, Gabriel, Kiwor and Holding combined cost us around £75million combined. Ruben Dias cost Manchester City £65million on his own.

Manchester City’s 5 central defensive options (Stones, Laporte, Dias, Ake, Akanji), have cost them a combined £255m. That is £180m more than our 4 options. Even if you throw in Ben White as an option, Manchester City have spent more than twice as much on central defenders.

This summer they will probably spend £100m+ on Josko Gvardiol, whilst we look to spend £15-20million on someone to replace Rob Holding.

And it is not just the transfer fees, but the wages too.

City’s 5 cost a reported £825,000 a week, Arsenal’s 5 (including White), cost £280,000 a week. That is a difference of nearly £30million a year in wages.

It should be no suprise that that City have greater strength in depth than us when you consider what they have paid for players, and what they pay for players, in comparison to Arsenal.

And do not even get me started on the £50m+ they spent on agents fees this season!

The Premier League does risk becoming like France or Germany, with City financially blowing everyone else out of the water, winning every season, and every other club just playing for 2nd.

If we do win tomorrow, it will put our title challenge right back on track.

Victory will keep us a point behind City, with them having a game in hand. We have 3 fairly comfortable games to finish the season (2 at home), whilst City still have tricky trips to Brentford and Brighton.

They also host Chelsea and have a trip to Everton to contend with, mixed in between the Real Madrid double header.

Three of their last 4 games are at home.

If they do win all 4, and today, that will be 94 points and a 14 game winning run, and 49 points from a possibile 51 in the last 17 games of the season. Incredible form and we can have no complaints finishing 2nd to that.

Enjoy the King’s Coronation weekend.



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