Testing run of fixtures threatens to disturb Arsenal's momentum in the Premier League

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Danny Welbeck’s last-gasp winner on Sunday reignited Arsenal’s title challenge in the most dramatic of circumstances.

The England striker’s header against Leicester City proved vital as the Gunners could have fallen further behind in the title race, especially after local rivals Spurs went on to win later in the day at Manchester City.

Normally, after such a win, the usual response would be to kick on and enjoy a winning run, yet in a rather untimely fashion for Arsenal, the Premier League now takes a week-long break as the FA Cup returns to centre stage.


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And once those duties are over, Arsene Wenger’s side have the small matter of Barcelona to overcome next Tuesday evening in the Champions League.

Whether or not the Frenchman has set his sights on an unlikely treble remains to be seen, as does whether the Gunners’ involvement on three fronts will disturb or maintain their title bid.

So, will they be able to find the balance in a season of such fine margins?

Arsenal's remaining home games are all against sides currently outside the top eight, but recent results suggest away games will prove most important, with a north London derby at White Hart Lane on March 5 fast approaching.

A trip to Old Trafford comes just six days prior against a Manchester United side desperate for results - but the Gunners can only focus on that once their first leg with Barcelona is out of the way.

The danger for Arsenal is switching their attentions to other commitments without replicating the fight shown on Sunday afternoon, because such grit will surely deliver the Premier League trophy to the Emirates Stadium.

There is now no denying Leicester’s quality anymore, even despite their defeat, so playing in that manner consistently will likely yield a strong bank of points when the season enters the final straight.

And two weeks is a long time to wait, even if you have games in between to maintain focus.

The contrasting strengths of Hull City, Barcelona and United suggest three very different games await in a defining period for the Gunners.

It is up to Wenger to decide how he plays this. The FA Cup should not be seen as a disruption to the club's title bid, yet it remains an important tournament. 

And while the Champions League would mark a major achievement - not least in dealing with Barcelona - domestic success is still very much Arsenal’s priority.

The desire to win the league amongst the club's fanbase is at its strongest point too, demonstrated by supporters staying until the very last on Sunday due to the importance of the fixture.

Arsenal must grab every opportunity with both hands and pray that the injury Gods smile kindly on them over the next few weeks; there is no use in taking their foot off the pedal now.

Laurent Koscielny became the latest victim of injury over the weekend, leaving the defence a little light just as the team were coming back to their full complement.

Either way, the Gunners’ mettle will be tested all the way until May - and they won’t be alone.

Neither will they be on balancing their other commitments, with Spurs and Manchester City also competing on three fronts come March.

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Premier League
Thierry Henry

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