Is this just fantasy?

Today’s tilt against top of table (level on points with City, second on GD) and unbeaten Liverpool is easily the most important match of the young season for Unai Emery’s crew. While one can’t dismiss the opening pair of losses to title contenders City and Chelsea, this is now a squad with its own 13-game unbeaten streak in hand and a growing acclimation to Emery’s pace and attack forward scheme. Liverpool will not be facing the Arsenal of August. Yet the questions remain: can this rather shoddy back three survive Mane, Firmino, and Salah?

Critically, though, this is one of those seemingly few and fewer EPL matches in which the outcome matters more than the politics — an Arsenal win cements their status as a return to top-four and potential chaos breaker title challengers; a draw pushes Arsenal to a dogfight for top-four, to Liverpool cementing top-four, but dampening title hopes; a Liverpool win puts Arsenal on the back foot with a fixture stretch ahead in the waning days of 2018 that includes two North London derbies (both at the Emirates), and trips to Old Trafford and Anfield, and makes Liverpool v. Man City the race to watch among the major leagues. Top-four was my hope in a Emery’s inaugural season — a chance at a treble (EPL, FA, Carabao/League Cup), however unlikely, is beyond my wildest dreams.

Whew. One match at a time, Benji.

~ by Benji on November 3, 2018.

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