The progress of our rivals makes winning the Europa League even more important

The nightmare of the last six weeks got even worse yesterday as Sp*rs beat Ajax in the Champions League semi-final. They will now face Liverpool for club football’s elite prize. With the progress of Man City, Liverpool, Spurs and Chelsea and Manchester United’s inevitable strong response to their fiasco, failure to win the Europa League could catapult us even further away from challenging for top honours. It would not be an overstatement to say tonight’s game against Valencia is the biggest game in our recent history. As we have seen with teams like AC Milan, Inter Milan and Valencia the longer you go without Champions League football, the more mediocre you become. Unai Emery messed up our league run-in, but he must find a way to get this job done.

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When it mattered most, we produced relegation form

When it mattered most, we produced relegation form, undoing all the good work of this season. After our 2-0 victory against Newcastle on April 1st, I confidently predicted we would navigate the tricky cluster of April fixtures and emerge in pole position to secure a top four position. Turns out it was the best April fools’ prank ever! Four losses in five games and a string of appalling performances have poleaxed our season. Only Avengers Endgame and Game of Thrones managed to keep my spirits from plummeting entirely. Despite the disaster that has been April we still have the opportunity to make this season a massive success by winning the Europa League. Emery has to find the blueprint to get it done.

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Arsenal 2 – 3 Crystal Palace: Top four chances take an unsuspected hit

I haven’t been able to blog for the last few weeks, but if I did, I would have been showering the team with compliments. Impressive back to back victories and clean sheets against Watford and Napoli invigorated my belief in the squad. I was supremely confident we would continue our strong home form and roll over Crystal Palace to put us in pole position for third place. However, we cracked under the weight of expectation and looked a shadow of the team we are used to seeing at the Emirates. With four games to go this loss puts us in a precarious position, but I’m still hopeful we can secure top four as luckily, there is not much between us, Chelsea and Manchester United. In true 18/19 fashion, every game is like a cup final.

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Everton 1 – 0 Arsenal: Performance more worrying than result as away form continues to haunt us

Our top four hopes took a significant blow with Sunday’s 1-0 defeat to Everton at Goodison Park. Phil Jagielka’s scrappy goal was enough to give the Toffees a deserved three points. All aspects of our performance were woeful and you would have thought Everton were the team fighting for an elusive Champions League spot. Momentum can often trump form, so I overlooked our abysmal away record before the game. Since our draw with Spurs, the team has had a swagger, freshness and authority culminating with a brief stint in third place. I assumed this momentum, coupled with the carrot of returning to third spot, would see our away form start to improve. It wasn’t to be.

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Arsenal 2 – 0 Newcastle: Emery matches last season’s points total with seven games to go

Monday night’s 2-0 victory against Newcastle took us to 63 points for the season, matching last season’s total. A fantastic achievement for Unai Emery, who has taken a disjointed and injury ravaged team to that tally with seven games still to play. Spurs managed to win their first game at their new stadium reclaiming third after we temporarily displaced them. However, victory at Everton this weekend would send us two points clear with six games to go. The Spaniard has us playing confidently and competitively, and on current form third is ours to lose.

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Southgate’s England continue to dazzle as Emery prepares the team for a tough April

I used to despise the international break, but Gareth Southgate’s dazzling England side has rekindled my excitement. The emphatic 5-0 and 5-1 victories against the Czech Republic and Montenegro in the Nations League, were a joy to watch, continuing our impressive form from the World Cup. With a wave of electrifying new youngsters like Hudson-Odoi and Sancho, joining Kane, Sterling and co, we are starting to look and feel like a squad that can challenge for major honours. Southgate has established a fluid and interchangeable system that caters to strengths of the collective. The confidence of the players coming in and out of the side show it’s working. Let’s just hope the manager’s head isn’t turned by club football.

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Arsenal 2 – 0 Manchester United: Players show character and grit to grab important win

It was probably a good thing I didn’t finish my piece on Friday morning. Like most fans, Thursday’s catastrophic 3-1 Europa League defeat to Rennes left me livid and I was in no fit state to be objective. To recover from that disastrous game and beat Manchester United 2-0 is testament to this squad’s blossoming character and hopefully signals Thursday was a blip. We have often failed to secure victory in must-win games against the big six, but this time we found a way. If we go on to pip Manchester United to fourth, it may be one of the most crucial six pointers in our history.

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Tottenham 1 – 1 Arsenal: Emery gets his tactics spot on, but that elusive away win still evades us

It wouldn’t be a North London derby without two penalties, dodgy decisions and a red card. Like most fans, I would have taken a draw before kick-off, but with Aubameyang missing a penalty, and the linesman failing to flag Kane for offside before Spur’s equaliser, the result felt like a loss. Emery will now end his first season without a single away victory against top six opposition, continuing our dreadful form in recent years. We haven’t beat Spurs away since 2014 and our last victory against the top six came against Manchester City in January 2015. Despite the perpetual gloom, there were enough positives from this game to suggest results will improve next season.

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Arsenal 5 – 1 Bournemouth: Emery’s red army delivers a five star performance ahead of the biggest NLD in years

Wednesday’s 5-1 demolition of Bournemouth is just what we needed before Saturday’s North London Derby. This scintillating display was Emery’s best result at the Emirates and should ignite belief within the squad that fourth is ours to lose. Only four points separate us and Spurs, who suffered their second consecutive league defeat at the hands of Chelsea. With 10 games remaining and competition rife for fourth, this is our most crucial North London derby since 22 April 2006. On that day, Henry came off the bench to make it 1-1 and secure a point in the last ever derby played Highbury. That season, we would go on to pip Spurs to fourth by two points. A score draw tomorrow at Wembley may lead to a similar outcome.

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Arsenal 2-0 Southampton: Fourth with 11 games to go. I would have taken that in August

Sunday’s 2-0 victory against Southampton was enough to send us fourth and one point clear of Manchester United. Goals from Lacazette and Mkhitaryan halted a spirited Saints team who should have enough to avoid relegation. A lot can happen in a week. Last Tuesday we were fifth and on the brink of exiting the Europa league, but thankfully Emery and the team seemed to have steadied the ship. With 11 winnable games to go in the Premiership and a round 16 Europa League tie scheduled against Rennes we have it all to play for.

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