It looks like it’s the FA Cup or nothing for Arsenal
Is it all falling apart again for Arsenal? All but out of both the Champions League and Premier League title races, their chance of a first trophy in nine years surely now depends on whether they can lift the FA Cup. Once more there is a real danger that all the good football the Gunners have played this season will count for nothing.
Coral rate Arsenal 100/1 shots to win the Champions League after their first leg 2-0 home loss to Bayern Munich, while you can back them at 20/1 to win the Premier League following their desperately disappointing 1-0 defeat at Stoke last weekend.
So it looks very much like the FA Cup (3/1) or nothing for Arsene Wenger’s men and this Saturday’s quarter-final tie against Everton, far from being a nice little distraction from far more important matters, now takes on the utmost significance in the overall scheme of things at the Emirates.
It has gone badly for Arsenal over the past month and the next month doesn’t look too promising either with Premier League fixtures to be played against Spurs, Chelsea, Manchester City and Everton in the calendar, all without the injured Jack Wilshere. Indeed, by the end of that little lot, they might not be the shoo-ins for a Champions League spot next season they would appear to be now (1/6 with Coral).
Everton are one of the teams hoping to snatch their place, though they have a lot to do after also losing ground this past month. Coral rate the Toffees 16/1 chances they finish in the top four and 13/2 to win the FA Cup and Roberto Martinez is enough of a realist to know where his best chance lies.
And their fans would be absolutely thrilled to win the FA Cup – never mind Arsenal’s nine years without a trophy, it’s 19 since Everton won one.
Surprisingly, for two clubs with such famous FA Cup traditions (15 wins between them), Arsenal and Everton have met only three times ever in the competition and never beyond the fourth round.
More relevant statistics can be found in Premier League fixtures, which show that defences have been on top in recent encounters; a total of just six goals have been scored in the last five games.
Chelsea loanee Romelu Lukaku, Everton’s match-winner against West Ham last weekend after returning from injury, is 7/4 to be on the scoresheet again (6/1 first or last), but I fancy Arsenal (4/5) will edge this to keep their hopes of a trophy alive, maybe 1-0 (13/2) or 2-1 (15/2).