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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