Premier League: Why Arsenal Will Finish Above Chelsea and Tottenham

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Premier League: Why Arsenal Will Finish Above Chelsea and Tottenham
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Arsene Wenger may have something to shout about at the end of the season

Arsene Wenger claimed his Arsenal team can finish second in the Premier League table this season to the derision of the Daily Mail, among others.

The Gunners have endured a tortuous campaign so far, with cup defeats to Bradford and Blackburn chained to an embarrassing home loss to Swansea and disappointing draws against Fulham and Sunderland.

Supporters' frustrations have boiled over into chants against Wenger and the board, while the manager has been seriously questioned for the first time since he took over at the club in 1996.

These are difficult times at the Emirates Stadium, but hope springs eternal, and one look at the remaining fixtures this season should offer a positive light for fans.

Arguably, the only match which can be written off for points is the visit of champions-elect Manchester United on Apr. 28, but Arsenal can build some momentum ahead of that match.

If the Gunners can leave White Hart Lane with a win or a draw Sunday, their Premier League run-in has the feel of a parachute glide to the end of the campaign with some serious points to be collected.

The Champions League trip to Bayern Munich is over, the 3-1 advantage to the Bundesliga team will be far too high a mountain for Wenger and his team.

The following weekend's trip to Swansea City would normally be considered an awkward one, but Michael Laudrup's team have now conquered their own Everest with the Capital One Cup triumph.

Home matches with Reading and Norwich and trips to West Brom and Fulham follow over the subsequent four-game period.

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Can Andre Villas-Boas push Tottenham on this season?
During that same spell, Tottenham must negotiate trips to Swansea and Chelsea and entertain Everton and Manchester City, while Chelsea play at improving Southampton and Liverpool and play host to Spurs and Sunderland.

Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas has strengthened his squad this season, particularly with the arrival of Lewis Holtby from Schalke in January, but the reliance on Gareth Bale surely cannot last until the season's end.

No matter what minor miracles the Wales international is performing, the weight of lifting a team single-handedly from good to great is a hefty burden.

Chelsea, meanwhile, are an unknown factor. The squad has depth and is strong on quality, but appears to lack unity in the pursuit of third place.

Interim manager Rafael Benitez has personal ambitions to achieve by guiding the club as high as possible, but a trophy will be more of an incentive for future employers if he is to leave in the summer.

The FA Cup and the Europa League may also become more of a priority for an inspirational player such as Frank Lampard, who appears to be in his Stamford Bridge swansong.

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Didier Drogba left Chelsea in May after winning the Champions League for the club. Few would want Lampard to leave in any other circumstances than with silverware.

Chelsea face home matches against Swansea and Everton along with trips to Manchester United and Aston Villa in their final four matches, while Tottenham must go to Wigan and Stoke and entertain Southampton and Sunderland over the same period.

Cue Arsenal's final four games of the league season. The Emirates' clash with Manchester United notwithstanding, the visit of Wigan and trips to QPR and Newcastle are all winnable for the Gunners.

Arsenal fans will see this as only a sliver of hope after a relatively desolate campaign which will again finish without a trophy.

But can there be any better way for Wenger and Arsenal to part company at the present moment in time than to finish as top London club?

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