Our last two fixtures for the season are today’s match at home to Brighton and Burnley away the following Sunday. They are winnable games. If we win the two matches the results of Manchester United’s remaining two matches become irrelevant to us. They would finish below us.
Chelsea’s last two fixtures are at home to Watford and Leicester away. That’s a more formidable pair of games than ours. If Chelsea who, like us, are battling with the extra work load of the Europa competition should as much as suffer a draw in one of their matches, goals difference would decides who between them and us finishes in the top 4. That is assuming we win our two winnable games. If they lose one of the games we are surely in the top 4 assuming again we win our winnable games.
Tottenham who have an uphill task in their 2nd leg away match against Ajax in the CL semi were beaten at away to Bournemouth yesterday in a match they lost two players to straight red cards. They are in a rotten place at the moment. Their last Premiership match is against the inform Everton. If they lose or draw to Everton and we win our winnable games we are in the top 4.
These scenarios are not in any way far fetched. As a matter of fact I consider our top 4 chances more likely than not and nobody is aware of that more than Emery.
From what our boys have been saying it is clear that they are up for the fight of finishing in the top 4. They too know there is still a corridor of hope and being a coach that resonates with his team expect Emery to send out the strongest team he can under the circumstance. At this moment the Premiership and the Europa routes to Champions League qualification are equally in his sight.
Maitland-Niles would serve his one match suspension. Koscielny who has played the most minutes since the games started coming thick and fast was so knackered in the last game that he was substituted with 10 minutes left. Cumulative fatigue seems to have caught up with him so he should be exempted with a start on the bench.
When Kolasinac and Maitland-Niles are available, Emery favours three central defenders. With Maitland-Niles suspended, Emery might opt for a four man defence, particularly as it is a home game where he usually wants his team on the front foot. In the back line should be Mustafi, Sokratis, Monreal and Jenkinson or Litchsteiner.
The defeat suffered by Cardiff yesterday has assured Brighton a place in the top flight next season. They would come at us with some extra springs in their steps. As a response to that, I expect Emery to start the fresh legs of the duo of Iwobi and Mkhitaryan. At #10 should be Ozil who plays his best football at the Emirate. With three attacking midfielders on the field, one of Laca or Auba might be benched. Laca worked his socks off on Thursday as he usually does and could do with a substitute role.
Expected line up:
Bench: Cech, Koscielny, Kolasinac, Guendouzi, Elneny, Nketiah, Lacazette.
This is the last home game of ’18/19. It could prove crucial to our season. All hands are needed on deck. It is a must win game as the top 4 race heads to the wire.