Arsenal host Chelsea in the Premier League on Boxing Day.
The day after Christmas has nothing to do with boxing, its name instead referring to the rich boxing up gifts to give to the poor. If Arsenal are to stop the rot and win a Premier League fixture it’d be a late present to supporters, but they’ll have to fight for it.
If this were last season, fans could hang their hat on the Blues’ poor defensive record. They could even take solace from the fine goalscoring form of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Now they can’t rely on either.
Mikel Arteta‘s job hangs by a thread, one that we’ve been reliably informed is still holding firm, although even the strongest bonds can get cut. All that will reinforce that connection between club and manager is victories, the like of which feel increasingly unobtainable this season.
No side in Premier League history has won more points at the Emirates Stadium than Chelsea and Frank Lampard‘s side make the short journey north having scored 17 more goals already this term.
If it’s omens or form you’re looking at to inject some positivity into this fixture, you’ll be disappointed. There is no beating around the bush on Saturday: Arsenal will need to catch Chelsea on an off day and hope their luck finally pulls through.
Victory will rest on how much fight the Gunners have left in the tank. Each individual battle will have to be win through sheer grit way before tactics and systems come into play.
When you’re down at the bottom you need the rub of the green, but you have to make your own luck. Half-heartedly challenging for the ball will not see it ricochet kindly into your teammate’s path.
Whether Arteta has the backing of this squad will be noticeable seconds after kick-off. Confidence is shot, granted, but we’ll know soon enough whether this side have the bottle to battle. Whether they’ll fight or go hiding.
It’s that spirit that will win the game for Arsenal. It may only be enough for a draw, and it may bear no points at all, but they needn’t pull their kit on unless they’re willing to die by the sword. Should they leave their backbone at home and we can spare ourselves the agony.
This game won’t define the season, but it could alter its course.