The business end of the Premier League season is upon Arsenal and with sixteen games left to go, every single match both involving the Gunners, or their rivals will play a massive role in the story’s end.
Arsenal sit in pole position to reach the top four with some predictions giving the Gunners as high as a 54% chance of securing Champions League qualification according to FiveThirtyEight after the dropped points of Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United last weekend.
However, with things looking so good, there is even more reason to be encouraged and for the optimism around the club to increase further.
Firstly is the return of Takehiro Tomiyasu to the Arsenal fold. Out since worsening an injury against Liverpool in the League Cup semi-final defeat, the 22-year-old has returned to training.
Arsenal released footage of the Japanese international working on his rehabilitation with fitness and ball work independent from the Gunners squad.
The next step will be integrating Tomiyasu into full training and perhaps he can be available for the home game against Brentford. Arsenal were without him for the first fixture between the two clubs with Tomiyasu still a Bologna player before joining on transfer deadline day.
The summer signing has become an immediate fan favourite thanks to his disciplined performances and consistency. Providing Mikel Arteta with greater defensive security and combining well with right-winger Bukayo Saka.
Secondly is a bright side of the misfortune of Arsenal’s own. Gabriel Martinelli was sent off in controversial circumstances against Wolves and will be suspended for the match with Brentford. However, this is likely to open the door to Emile Smith-Rowe returning to the starting eleven and the left-wing.
Smith-Rowe became the team’s top scorer playing on the left, a position that helped the 21-year-old add much-needed goals to his game. Yes, Martinelli’s absence will be felt, but Smith-Rowe’s reintroduction could have an even greater positive influence on the side as a whole.
The Arsenal Way covered the added benefit of Kieran Tierney’s relationship with Smith-Rowe, and how the England international’s return could improve the Scot’s productivity.
Finally is the return of European competition. No, this is not some sadistic reminder that the Gunners are not involved. Instead, it is to bring forth the fact that all the Gunners rivals, bar Spurs, will be in action in the coming weeks.
Even Tottenham will continue on with their FA Cup commitments, however, Manchester United, Chelsea, Leicester City and West Ham all face their next European opponents to add to their match congestion.
Meanwhile, only the postponed Wolves game is set to take place in midweek on the 24th of February. Games against Tottenham, Chelsea and Liverpool are awaiting rescheduling.
There is plenty to be positive about at Arsenal right now and the possibility of building up more momentum with back-to-back wins should only add to the optimism.
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