Arsenal are sitting top of the Premier League as we kick off 2016, two points clear following our 1-0 win over Newcastle in the 20th round of the English top flight. However, Wenger’s team has been at the top of the table before, only to fall away as the season swept closer to its conclusion. Here we take a look at the fixtures that could potentially decide the league title for us in 2015/16.
1. Liverpool vs Arsenal (14/01/16): Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp have been hit and miss, but playing them at Anfield has never been an easy proposition, and Arsenal will still be going through their injury crisis ahead of this one. The match should see Alexis Sanchez back in action following his injury (via The Telegraph) and Wenger will need his star player to fire, because falling behind the pace this early in the competition is hazardous, especially if we see Manchester City getting back into gear.
2. Arsenal vs Chelsea (24/01/16): The last time we met Chelsea was at Stanford Bridge, and some awful refereeing was all it took to take us to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Mourinho’s struggling Blues. Chelsea have since gone through a lot and nearly dropped into the relegation zone, but have been showing signs of improvement in recent matches. It’s unfortunate that they appear to be hitting top form just in time for their trip to the Emirates, but we should still be able to get the win. Defeating last year’s league champions will be a significant boost and would also show that this team can overcome harsh opposition.
3. Arsenal vs Leicester City (14/02/16): When we defeated Leicester 5-2 at the King Power stadium it was considered a routine result. However, now that Leicester are just two points behind us in second spot, that win looks increasingly important in the race for the title. Winning against Leicester at home will not be easy as they are a very quick counter attacking team, but hat-trick hero Alexis Sanchez will hopefully be in top form coming into this Valentine’s Day clash. Given the Foxes’ form this season, this clash could be a real six pointer, especially because Leicester will have faced Manchester City before this.
4. Manchester United vs Arsenal (28/02/16): The 3-0 drubbing of Louis van Gaal’s team at the Emirates was a spectacle to behold, but since then United have been playing a boring game of keep-ball, unlike the open and attacking style they used at the Emirates. United skipper Wayne Rooney has just ended his goal drought, and come February 28th we may see him more at the top of his formidable powers. Arsenal also should be back to near full strength if Wenger’s timelines for Santi Cazorla, Tomas Rosicky, and Jack Wilshere are to be believed (via the Metro), all of whom could be crucial in a fixture of such importance against a team of United’s stature. United may well need to win this one against us to stay in contention for a Champions League place, and we might need a win to stay at the top; this match might just be decided by which team wants it more.
5. Arsenal vs Watford (02/04/16): Watford have been a revelation this season, with Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney combining to devastating effect for the Hornets. We meet them on the 2nd of April, and points dropped so late in the season might mean a derailed title challenge. We should have a full strength starting line up ready for this game and, on paper, it appears to be a simple win. However, our loss at Southampton showed that no team can be taken lightly, and we certainly can’t underestimate high flyers like Watford.
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Arsenal fans will be hoping that Arsene Wenger’s men are up to the task during a season which has seen regular top four teams – like Chelsea, Manchester City, and Manchester United – struggling, and thus represents Arsenal’s most realistic chance of a league title in the last 12 years.