A lot of ‘six pointers’ aren’t really ‘six pointers’. They’re simply games involving two sides in close proximity to each other in a league table. In many cases then the term is wrongly attributed to a contest in order to give it a magnitude it ill deserves.
Whereas Liverpool’s trip to Manchester City earlier this month; now that was a ‘six pointer’. Using every metric and definition and in the strictest sense of the words that was a game that offered up two extreme possibilities. It was either death or glory. Hope or hell. Had Pep Guardiola’s side lost at the Etihad they would have slunk home that evening ten points adrift of a Liverpool team chasing invincibility. That would have surely been a bridge too far. That would have surely concluded the title race.
As it was of course City triumphed, pegging their rivals back to a manageable, catchable four points. The six point swing went their way.
Rarely do we witness them, these true ‘six pointers’ but this Saturday heralds another as Chelsea travel the short distance across the capital to the Emirates. Since an opening day loss the Gunners have remained unbeaten at home under the early tenure of Unai Emery and that will have to continue here because otherwise the Blues will extend their gap over their North London rivals to nine points. And though Manchester United might still have a say in matters that will almost certainly be that for Arsenal’s top four aspirations. Nine points is nigh on unbridgeable.
A win however, for the hosts and, well it’s game on again isn’t it. Just three measly points as a buffer is no buffer at all.
First we enjoyed a true ‘six pointer’ for the title. Now comes the Champions League equivalent. We’re getting spoilt this season.
Regarding Arsenal’s chances they have positives to inspire them but many more ominous signs to ignore. Mainly those derive from recent history with the Gunners only winning 36% of their home games v Chelsea since 2000. In that time too they have scored less goals (43 to 59) and won five less games overall. Bringing things more up to date also throws up plenty of concerns. They have lost three of their last six Premier League games and if last week’s defeat to West Ham had them looking slovenly and predictable their massacre at the hands of Liverpool showed their frailties in both belief and spirit.
Turning to the positives they mainly come in the frame of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The Gabonese striker has fired 14 goals in the competition this term and proven himself invaluable to a side still attuning themselves to Emery’s ways.
As for Chelsea so much of their optimism lies in Eden Hazard to the extent where should he turn up to the Emirates on form and influential they have twice as much chance of winning then if he toils. Strangely, another of their hopes lie in an aspect that elsewhere has been used to damn them: Chelsea have drawn too often this term and that has been costly. Here though a stalemate would represent very good business indeed and the Premier League odds for the Arsenal v Chelsea draw is 13/5.
Offer Sarri that right now and no doubt he’d take it knowing as he would that to negate a ‘six pointer’ is almost as good as a win for the team with it all to lose.