Arsenal legend Martin Keown has warned his old club about ‘horrible’ upcoming fixtures against Chelsea and West Ham in the Premier League.
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The Gunners are currently top of the table – eight points clear of second-placed Manchester City – as they look to lift their first top-flight title since 2004.
Pep Guardiola’s team, who have won four of the last five Premier League trophies, have a game in hand and can reduce the gap to five points.
Once City have played that game in hand, both sides will have just 10 fixtures remaining in the season and they are due to face each other on April 26.
Arsenal face a trip to Liverpool in their last 10 matches – who beat Manchester United 7-0 earlier this month – but Keown is also worried about the clashes against London rivals Chelsea and West Ham.
Mikel Arteta’s side travel to face the Hammers on April 16 and host the Blues on April 29 with both clubs having endured a poor season in the 2022-23 campaign.
Chelsea are currently 10th in the Premier League table while West Ham are all the way down in 18th and are battling relegation.
‘It’s not just the Liverpool and (Manchester) City fixtures that stand out for me as being tough in Arsenal’s run-in,’ Keown told the BBC.
‘The games against Chelsea and West Ham will be horrible too. Neither of those teams are having great seasons, but they know they could stop Arsenal from winning the title.
‘Whatever else they are playing for, that is all the incentive they need.’
Arsenal beat Crystal Palace 4-1 on Sunday to become the first side in English Football League history to win as many as nine London derbies in a single league season.
‘Yes, there are more derbies than usual this year, but you cannot underestimate how difficult those games are,’ Keown added. ‘That makes things harder for Arsenal, not easier.
‘I know from playing in them that it is not just the north London derby with Tottenham that is fiercely contested. You have local rivals from the east, west and south of the city too.
‘It means a hell of a lot for them to beat you, and they are always waiting for their opportunity, especially in a season like this where Arsenal are getting lots of plaudits.
‘This season, almost a third of Arsenal’s league games – 12 out of the 38 – are derbies, which is a huge chunk. It makes it relentless, because there is always one on the horizon.’
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