Make or break is perhaps a little extreme, but I do feel that for a number of reasons this Saturday’s clash with Tottenham holds more importance than your average North London derby.
We have no divine right to finish above the Spuds every year, but yet when each season comes to a close we rightly take our place above them in the table. The simple fact is that we are better than them, and as much as they like to dispute it, deep down they know it all too well.
The gap has undeniably shrunk in recent years however, and that lot down the road have finished farther up the table than many Arsenal fans are comfortable with.
With 23 games played, they are snapping at our heels once again; just two points separating us as we head into the tail end of the season.
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This is, of course, reason number one. A win at White Hart Lane would put some much needed distance between us, and see Mauricio Pochettino’s side continue to dwell in our shadow. A loss would see them leapfrog us in the table, and would give them bragging rights for at least three days until the next round of fixtures.
A few points are easily made up over the course of the season though, so seeing Spurs temporarily move ahead of us would not be the end of the world. A loss would prove far more damaging to our confidence however, and would put an end to the fantastic run of form we have been enjoying as of late.
The North London derby is succeeded by home games against Leicester City, Middlesbrough, and AS Monaco, with a trip to Selhurst Park to face Alan Pardew’s Crystal Palace sandwiched between them.
These are all totally winnable games, and if we head into them with confidence then we should have no problems whatsoever. But a loss against Spurs would see our winning streak come to an end, and could badly dent our morale during an extremely busy period.
A winning mentality cannot be underestimated, and our performance against Aston Villa showed the kind of impact it can have. The team were clearly playing with confidence, and that gave us the impetus to hand Paul Lambert’s side a drubbing at the Emirates.
You only have to look at Chelsea to see the kind of effects a winning streak can have, with Jose Mourinho’s side threatening to run away with the title in the early goings of the season. They haven’t looked the same side since their loss to Newcastle however, and while they might still be clinging to top spot, they no longer look like guaranteed champions.
If we continue in our current vein of form then I can see us making a late charge up the table, but with the race for top four proving tighter than ever we can’t afford to slip up.
A dominant win over Spurs would give us yet another injection of belief, and could provide us with the momentum we need to finish this campaign with a real bang.