Wow, what a week.
At the start, if we were offered two wins from two against Liverpool in the Premier League and Manchester City in the FA Cup Semi-Final – we wouldn’t have snatched at it – we would’ve ripped your arm off.
Those wins were masterminded by Mikel Arteta and it shows the progress he has made with the materials at his disposal. His methods alone have been the catalyst – so just imagine what he could do with a squad he has assembled.
We now have three games remaining of this strange season. Watford in the Premier League and the FA Cup Final but first up is a game against struggling Aston Villa.
The Villans are currently three points adrift of safety – ironically the team above them is Watford, our next opponents after this one and it means we will have a huge say on who survives.
It also means that this game is no gimme – the Midlands club will be fighting tooth and nail for this.
We will have to employ every bit of effort that we did against City and Pool – and Arteta will want his side to finish as high up the table as possible – especially with the slim chance that we could still finish above our neighbours, Tottenham.
Would that make for a good season? No, we should be aiming much higher than that, but we still have to go for it!
Mikel has a few decisions on his hands with each remaining becoming a Cup Final of sorts, ending, ironically, with the Cup Final itself.
Who will he name?
Shkodran Mustafi has pulled his hamstring, inflicted in our win over City. That could see Rob Holding return to the side. The Englishman was unlucky to have been dropped after his heroic performance in the win over Liverpool.
Eddie Nketiah has completed his suspension and could come into the side. Alexnadre Lacazette has hit form again and could be saved for the Cup Final and these two games are the perfect return for Nketiah, who will be raring to go.
Lucas Torreira is another who could return, with Arteta possibly resting either Dani Ceballos or Granit Xhaka. The real question will be whether Matteo Guendouzi and Mesut Ozil will be given another chance before the season ends – but it is looking doubtful.
Cedric coming in for Hector Bellerin is another change that will be likely made for this game too.
Player to Watch
The rangy English defender will only just be returning to the side but when in the team, he has shown that at set plays, he has the uncanny ability to get on the end of set pieces and is a real threat. He is strong, he is a target and he could be a real option for Dean Smith.
How This Could Go
This could be a real toughie. Dean Smith’s men know that they have to get something from this game and they will be going all out. There will be no space, they will be fighting for every loose ball.
That means that we have to be patient.
Make them work and return to our possession-based football before we had to play Liverpool and City. They will tire, they will get frustrated – then we need to strike.
Sounds simple, but we will have to be on it from the first to the last whistle. Villa have some top players and under Dean Smith, they certainly don’t play conservative football. That does though, mean that they concede often.
They have avoided defeat in their last two games, they are pumped and we need to ensure that the points come back to London. Otherwise our worst Premier League finishing position will be even worse.
Martinez, Cedric, Holding, Luiz, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Torreira, Saka, Nelson, Aubameyang, Nketiah
Predicted Scoreline – 2-2
Summon your inner Arteta and try to predict the team here.