Why Arsenal Can Still Overtake Tottenham Hotspur This Season
Arsenal on Current Form
On current form, Arsenal will likely pick up 14 points to Spurs' 17 by the end of the season. (Please refer to the table above.) Should this happen, Spurs will win the spot for fourth place by 10 points.
Then, at home to Norwich the projection is that they’ll take the maximum points from the match.
It is assumed that the home match against Everton will end in a draw, and then that away at Fulham, Arsenal will pick up a solitary point, after which they’ll lose at home to Manchester United in the following match.
Spurs on Current Form
The conservative estimate for Spurs is an additional 17 points to their 54 in hand by the end of the season.
Should this happen, Spurs will finish the season on 71 points. If they pick up more than 17 points, say 20 points, Arsenal would need to win all but one of their remaining matches in order to knock Spurs out of fourth place.
The “IF” Factor
To retain the chance of besting Spurs at the end of this season, Arsenal must hope that this estimation of 17 points for Spurs holds.
This means that Spurs will pick up 11 points from their home matches: 3 against Fulham, one against Everton and one against City. They’ll then pick up three against Southampton and three against Sunderland.
Furthermore, the assumption is that Spurs will win only one of their remaining five away matches, with this win coming against Wigan Athletic.
Accordingly, I expect that Spurs will come away with only a point at Liverpool, then a point at both Swansea City and Chelsea, and finally a point at Stoke City. I believe this projection is realistic.
Moreover, I assume that Spurs would not lose any of their remaining matches, a rather liberal projection. It is possible though that they might lose one of these matches or even more than one but then make this up by winning at some of the places marked down as draws.
In any case, if Spurs’ final point-haul does not exceed 17, Arsenal will stand the chance of overhauling them for one of the spots for the Champions League.
The Rest of March
I assume that both teams’ current placement on the Premiership table will remain the same at the end of March, with Spurs still maintaining their seven-point advantage.
In fact, according to my projection, Spurs will hold an eight-point advantage at the end of March as a result of having played one more match than Arsenal, the match against Swansea City.
Here’s how I see March playing out.
First, both would lose their away matches, Arsenal to Swansea and Spurs to Liverpool, after which both teams would win their home matches, Arsenal to Reading and Spurs to Fulham. This will amount to three points each.
Or, both might pick up solitary points from their respective travels and then, again, win their home matches: four points each.
Spurs might then pick up an additional point away at Swansea, taking their total for the month to five.
Consequently, if Arsenal are to maintain the current gap, they must fight to pick up at least a point at Swansea City, or better, beat Swansea City.
Should Spurs win any of their away matches (either to Liverpool or Swansea) and Arsenal lose one of their remaining two matches in March, the gap will increase to 10 points.
Accordingly, Arsenal must not only take their destiny by the scruff of its neck, they must also hope that Spurs don’t overachieve against Liverpool or Swansea City.
The best scenario for Arsenal is to win their remaining matches in March. If this happens and Spurs lose or draw away to Liverpool, the gap will be reduced to either four or five points.
April the Month
To retain any chance of playing in the Champions League next season, Arsenal must shrug off their indifferent form.
Should this happen, the pretension to “quality” would have been exposed as just that, and what’s more, Arsenal would thoroughly be out of the Champions League race at this point.
To remain in this race, then, Arsenal must pick up a minimum of 13 points in April. Anything less than this will render the team’s chances impossible.
Spurs in April
My estimation for Spurs is a mere six points for the entire month of April. This is because they will be playing three difficult teams at this time.
For Arsenal, though, because they are fighting for dear life, they must make sure to win their match against Everton.
For Spurs, their seven, five or four-point advantage to Arsenal at this point means that a loss will not necessarily be fatal for them. However, even they themselves will want to maintain their advantage against Arsenal (or even Chelsea).
Therefore, to say that this match against Everton will likely end in a draw isn’t to say that that’s what will really happen. Spurs are as likely to win this match as they are to lose it.
A draw seems to me to be feasible outcome.
The other two draws I project are against Chelsea away and at home to Manchester City. Anything, of course, can happen here. However, I do think that projecting draws for these matches is realistic enough.
To summarize, going into April, Spurs might hold a seven-point (or even an eight-point) lead against Arsenal.
If, then, my projection of three draws against Everton, Chelsea and Manchester City comes to pass, this will amount to just three points out of a possible nine.
Arsenal in April
At this time, Arsenal will play West Brom away and then both Norwich and Everton at home.
Should Arsenal win just two of these three matches and draw the remaining one, they’d have reduced the seven-point (or eight-point) gap to three (or four points).
If they pick up the maximum nine points to Spurs’ three, they would eliminate the seven-point gap at this point. Or, they would just be trailing Spurs by a point.
And if Arsenal perform better than Spurs in March and this projection holds, Arsenal would have overtaken Spur either by a point or two.
If we remain conservative and assume that Arsenal are only able to pick up seven points (they can only afford to drop two points at this time), they’d be trailing Spurs by either three or four points.
However, they’ll have a match in hand.
If this match fetches them additional three points, they’d have eliminated Spurs advantage, or they’ll only be trailing Spur by a solitary point.
But then the bad news comes.
Each team will have one match left in April. But where Spurs will play Wigan Athletic, Arsenal will play Manchester United.
I project that Arsenal will lose this match while Spurs will win theirs. This means Spurs will open either a three-point or a one-point gap against Arsenal.
If at the beginning of May Spurs are still holding an advantage of any sort, say a one-point or three points, I do not see that Arsenal would then be able to overtake Spurs at all.
In May, Arsenal will play QPR away, Wigan at home and Newcastle United away. I suppose that Arsenal might win the first two, but my best estimate for the final match against Newcastle is a draw.
That’s seven points out of nine.
Spurs will play Southampton at home, Stoke City away and then Sunderland at home on the final day of the season. Like Arsenal, I see them winning two out of the three and drawing the one against Stoke City.
This means that Arsenal do not have any advantage in May.
If Arsenal are to overhaul Spurs for fourth place here’s how the math might look like.
To keep alive their chance of playing Champions League football next season, Arsenal must make sure to pick up at least four more points in March.
In April they must take 13 points out of the possible 16. Then, in the final three matches in May, they must pick up at least seven out of the nine maximum points.
If they fail to win or draw at Swansea City in a fortnight, they must have to beat Manchester United in April to make up for this failure.
But whatever Arsenal does in the coming two months will depend as well on Spurs' form. A blistering form for Spurs equals no hope for Arsenal.
Therefore, Arsenal have to hope (and pray) that Spurs’ form plays out like I have projected here, or worse.
If both teams are tied on points at the end of the season, the team with the most goals will, of course, prevail. Arsenal must therefore seek to maintain their current advantage on Spurs in this area.
Do Arsenal deserve to play Champions League next season? Not on current form.
If they are to be deserving of this, they must demonstrate their worthiness in the remaining 10 matches, where 30 points are there to be had. If they are able to take 24 or 26 of these points, then they might yet again find themselves playing Champions League football next season.
Then again, everything depends also on how Spurs fare in the coming month. Moreover, let’s not forget that Chelsea do have a thing or two to say about all this as well.
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