The S J Chandos Column
As stated in my last blog post, the impressive away victory over Stoke City provided a stable launch pad to use the Christmas and early January fixtures to blast away from the relegation zone. I had hoped that team would use the momentum to defeat Newcastle utd at home and Bournemouth away and set us up nicely to take on WBA at the LS on 2 January 2018. But no, those hopes were dashed in the comedy of errors that was our ‘performance’ against the Toon in a disappointing 2-3 home defeat. This was then duly followed by the dropping a further two points to a off-side and handled equalising ‘goal’ by Cullum Wilson. So, that’s it, one point from a possible six and, as a result, we failed to achieve the ‘lift off’ that was a very real possibility before Christmas.
So now, we face a absolutely crucial fixture on 2 January 2018, which is ‘must win.’ I know that term in bounded around a lot, but I think that the term really does fit the circumstances pertaining to the WBA match. That is then followed by a tough away match at Wembley against Spurs. We really do need to beat WBA before tackling Harry Kane and co. Personally I am not unduly worried about the Spurs match, any points secured there will be a happy bonus. It is the teams around and just above us that we must ensure we defeat if we are to pull away from the relegation zone and secure safety. WBA obviously fall in to that category and we must take all three points. Anything less is just unthinkable in our current situation.
There is no doubt that this has been a wasted opportunity to accrue some vital PL points that would have helped us get out of trouble as quickly as possible. Nevertheless, it is pointless crying over ‘spilt milk.’ The players must now focus on the WBA game and ensure that there are no further slip ups. On the face of it, WBA look like the perfect opposition. with their poor form. But we must not take anything for granted, after all, one could have said the same about Newcastle Utd and Bournemouth!
On the plus side, Lanzini is back pulling the midfield strings, Arnautovic has hit a rich vein of form and Antonio’s form can only improve. Additionally, we are on the cusp of the January window transfer window opening and, hopefully, strengthening the squad in some key positions. A productive transfer window is probably going to be vital to our season, but in the meantime the current squad need to secure the maximum points tally possible, starting with a morale boosting win on 2 January 2018.
I am still confident that we can achieve safety with a bit to spare, but we need to ‘draw a line in the sand’ with victory over WBA. COYI!