With five games left and Arsenal behind Liverpool by not only ten points --a very staggering fact since Arsenal were about six points clear of everyone not too long ago-- and a good medical team, it is not a reach to say that we are officially out of the title challenge. I believe that much we can agree on. The challenge now is one that we are all too familiar with unfortunately, and that is the race for 4th place on the table.
The defeat to Everton taught us many things but the most brazen one being that this team, the one that attempted football against Everton, is simply not good enough. It also showed, in the most unflattering manner, that when the pressure is on, there are few players in the team who are willing to drive the team forwards. While Everton were building quick and exciting counterattacks, Arsenal resorted to sideways passes that wither into throw ins, blocked shots or the depressing loss of possession from the opponents pressing.
All these are legitimate causes for despair, since the match against Everton was of the utmost importance --Everton being behind Arsenal by a point, with a game in hand after that win. There is hope nonetheless. Since we are a team that takes pride in the future, looking at the respective schedules for both Arsenal and Everton shows that if the Arsenal team is willing, the coveted 4th place trophy could easily return to its rightful place.
Everton still has to face the difficult task of welcoming a title challenging Manchester City, a resurgent Manchester United, Southampton, Crystal Palace, Hull City and Sunderland before the season's end, while Arsenal face West Ham United, Hull City, Newcastle United, West Bromwich Albion and Norwich City. Though Arsenal's opponents aren't by any chance a walk in the park, especially for a team that seems rudderless and lacking in ideas, it is still a manageable task.
The great things is that the FA cup against Wigan is coming at the perfect time. It is like writer's block: when one is lacking of ideas, it is always a good choice to shift focus and try a different subject in order to rejuvenate. In this case, since the EPL challenge has become extremely daunting, the prospect of a new challenge, especially one that is so close to a trophy, might be the motivation that this team needs to get back on track. Thankfully Wigan aren't the strongest team in the world --not to take anything away from them, they have made it this far after all-- so the team should be able to dominate and remember how it feels to do well in a match.
There's also the good news of the injured players returning that should help the push for these last few games. The team looked much more dangerous with Aaron Ramsey driving through the middle and players felt the confidence to go for goal and try through passes, something they had lacked for almost an hour of play in that game. These factors all point to hope for Arsenal to cement 4th place again this season, it is not the goal that many of us had hoped for at the beginning and middle of the season, but there's no reason that this Arsenal team couldn't win the FA cup and retain Champion's League football this season.
Also, Diaby is back.