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For Arsene, the stakes are high

WE all know what is meant to happen now: it is precisely the time of year when, already on a dodgy run, we face three of the top five in quick succession and everything goes sufficiently tits up that I needn’t worry that any of the myriad family birthdays that fall in the spring will interfere with any meaningful league football.

Cue talk of fine margins, next year etc etc.

Except this time those three top sides are table topping Leicester, second place Spurs and 5th place United who are currently on for a grand total of 63 points.

Leicester have done incredibly and Spurs very well. But both, to some degree, are filling the vacuum left by the traditionally great sides of the last decade or two.

There was general agreement at Christmas that this year presented an unprecedented opportunity for us. Yet, we’re now heading towards 71 points, which nobody can argue is a plausible title winning total. Even Leicester, for all their brilliance, are still heading towards a total of just 81 points – the lower end of a title win.

So it is not that we have been blown out of the water by Leicester or Spurs. We’ve simply come up short in the last few months.

Just as six weeks ago this was an unprecedented opportunity in recent times, so it would be an unprecedented failure.

The stakes are high and as the crowd at the Emirates against Southampton appeared well aware, every league game is now high stakes.

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