With the premier league title race from last season looking like a long, lost dream, we have to find other things to focus on. While the relegation battle this season seems to be quite an exciting one, the other scrimmage for something a bit more prestigious, the last two tickets to the Champions League, with the three London clubs, Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea fighting to get it.
At the moment, Tottenham are at third with 57 points after 31 matches, Chelsea at fourth with 55 points after 30 league matches and Arsenal are fifth with 53 points, also trailing Tottenham by one match. Everton, with 51 points, might also be included in the fight for fourth, and some would even mention Liverpool as a team with a chance to make it somehow, although they’re probably thinking of somehow finishing in the top 6, nothing more.
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So who ends up with the final two spots? Arsenal, unlike Tottenham and Chelsea, don’t have any more European commitments they need to “worry” about. All that’s left are eight matches, four at home, and only two against teams in the top 7. First there’s Everton visiting them on April 16 (the two had a 1-1 draw at Goodison Park), and 12 days later its Manchester United paying a visit, without anything really left to play for, possibly even securing the title by that point. The rest of the matches are at West Brom, at home to Norwich, at Fulham, at QPR, home to Wigan and at Newcastle.
Although Arsenal haven’t been exactly the symbol of stability on both ends of the pitch this season, it wouldn’t be asking too much of the Gunners to win at least five of these matches, hoping it’ll be enough. Knowing how they’ve been playing this season, it probably is a bit too much to ask.
For Chelsea, who still have the FA Cup and the Europa League to worry and keep their rather short squad busy, there’s a bit of a harder schedule left. Not just the business of it with playing Rubin Kazan and Manchester City in the cup competitions, but also having to play Spurs at home, Liverpool at Anfield and Manchester United at Old Trafford, not to mention the rest of their schedule – Sunderland at home, Fulham away, Swansea at home, Aston Villa away and Everton at home. A tough one, even if they are the best team out of the three competing for the two tickets.
Tottenham have the Europa League (Basel) to worry about, but also have a game less to play, bringing us to their dropped points recently, losing three of their last four matches in all competitions, and their over-dependence on Gareth Bale. They too have to play Everton (also at home), not to mention at Stamford Bridge (mentioned above) on April 14 unless it’s pushed (which it will be) and at home against Manchester City. There’s also away to Wigan, home to Southampton, away to Stoke and home to Sunderland.
The toughest? Chelsea, but they are also the better team out of the three. The easiest? Tottenham, probably, but they do have a game more than the other two. While Arsenal aren’t inflicted with schedule banes, they haven’t shown us enough this season to make us feel confident of their ability to somehow pull off an impressive finish, overtaking one of their city rivals.