The English Premier League is one of the most entertaining and fascinating football leagues in the world. It has clubs with vast fanbases, and the football value is always worth every penny spent.
Speaking of pennies, England’s dominance in Europe’s elite football competition has seen the league send out four representatives every season to the UEFA Champions League.
While the top three teams are assured of places in the group phase, the fourth-placed team usually has to go through a tricky qualifying round, and sometimes it doesn’t pan out very well, as the losing team is sent to the Europa League if they fail to qualify.
In past, clubs like Newcastle and Everton worked their skins off to secure fourth-place finishes, but knockout losses ensured that they could have been better off in fifth place after all.
This season, the teams from Manchester are calling the shots yet again, as Manchester City’s win over Manchester United at Old Trafford cut the table toppers' lead to 12 points. At this point in time, you don’t need any soothsayer to tell you who would finish in first and second place.
However, the big boys of London are battling for the remaining Champions League spots, and despite the fact that Chelsea continue to showcase their inconsistency with interim manager Rafa Benitez, at the helm, they still stand a concrete chance of ending the season as the third-best team in the land.
This leaves us with the million-dollar question: Between fierce North London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham, who is likelier to miss out on a Champions League place?
Before throwing more light on this subject, I’d like to review the current standings on the Premier League table to establish the status of both teams.
Tottenham have only six games left to play in the Premier League this season. Out of 32 games played thus far, Andre Villas-Boas’ side has secured 17 wins, seven draws and eight defeats for 58 points. Arsenal, on the other hand, has endured a tumultuous campaign, and after 16 wins, eight draws and seven losses, they are two points behind Spurs with a vital game in hand against Everton.
Looking at the fixture lists of both sides, Arsenal began the month of April with a somewhat nervy win over West Brom, and this is to be followed with two home clashes against Norwich and Everton. The Gunners will end the month with an away trip to Craven Cottage against Fulham, before hosting the potential league champions Manchester United.
The game against Manchester United would be in the spotlight for more reasons than one. For starters, it would be Robin van Persie’s homecoming, and he would be bracing himself to face a hostile crowd. One thing is certain: You won’t hear the “He scores when he wants” chants reverberating around the Emirates.
Just like how Sylvain Wiltord scored the goal that won Arsenal the title in the 2001-02 campaign, Sir Alex Ferguson’s men would want to get their pound of flesh. Manchester United may want to get maximum points at the Emirates, and judging from results elsewhere, the Gunners may have to become guards of honor, watching the Red Devils lift the league on their home ground.
That would be a horrible sight, in my honest opinion.
After the Manchester United game, Arsenal would face relegation-threatened Queens Park Rangers away, before wrapping up the league with games against Wigan and Newcastle.
Judging from current form, Arsenal is a team on fire at the moment, amassing 18 points from a possible 21. Last season, Norwich put up a great show at the Emirates in a game marred by Wojciech Szczesny’s incompetence in goal, Arsenal’s leaky defense and Bacary Sagna’s horrific leg break. At the end of 90 minutes, both teams shared the spoils, and Arsenal’s Champions League life was hanging by a thin thread.
Eleven months on, Norwich is a side struggling for goals, and I expect Arsenal to grab all three points against the Canaries. Everton will visit the Emirates shortly afterwards, and it would be a game that should be regarded as a must-win for Arsenal. In recent times, both teams have matched each other pound-for-pound, and a draw would seem like the most possible outcome.
Fulham is a side that is more or less assured of their top-flight status for another season, so Arsenal’s visit to the Cottage will be regarded as a formality by the hosts, while the visitors will certainly be in a business mood. It certainly won’t be a whitewash, but the Gunners will have enough in the tank to beat Fulham, grabbing three absolutely vital points.
It hurts me to say this, but I have fears about Manchester United’s visit to the Emirates. I’m pretty damn sure that Arsenal won’t win the game, but I doubt if the Gunners could cling to a draw as well. Arsenal’s record against top teams in the league has been appalling this season, and I fear that the trend would continue against Manchester United.
Following what would seem like a setback at the hands of their eternal rivals, Arsenal will come out all guns blazing against Queens Park Rangers and would probably seal their fate after a resounding victory. With half an eye on Tottenham’s proceedings, the Gunners would have enough in the tank to see out the threat of Wigan.
The final game of the season against Newcastle will probably end in a draw.
Adding all the predicted points together (Norwich 3, Everton 1, Fulham 3, Man Utd 0, QPR 3, Wigan 3 and Newcastle 1), Arsenal would have taken 14 points from a possible 21, ending the campaign with 70 points, the exact points tally they achieved last season.
Moving over to the White half of North London, Tottenham had to claw a draw from the jaws of defeat when Everton visited White Hart Lane last weekend. To add to their woes, AVB and his hordes visit Stamford Bridge next, and joining the lines and dots together, it’s fair to say that they would return back to North London with nothing.
This would be followed by a crunch clash against a Manchester City side still harboring false hopes of retaining their Premier League crown. Tottenham will put up a fight against the defending champions, but the sheer quality of Roberto Mancini’s side will be enough to ease past the Londoners.
Spurs will hope to end their bad run of form against Wigan, and they’ll secure all three points against the Latics. This would be followed by a home clash against Southampton, which would end in a Tottenham victory, of course.
Shortly afterwards, Tottenham will make the daunting trip to the Britannia to play those rugby goons of Stoke City, and a draw will be the most likely outcome. Tottenham will end the campaign with a routine win over Sunderland.
Adding Tottenham’s predicted points tally (Chelsea 0, Man City 0, Wigan 3, Stoke 1, Southampton 3 and Sunderland 3), AVB’s side will have taken 10 points from a possible 18, ending their campaign with 68 points.
This ultimately means that St. Totteringham’s day would be celebrated after all.
I’m certainly no Nostradamus, and I’ve made my permutations from the current forms of both sides. I’m pretty sure that you have your opinion on this matter. Feel free to share them with your comments.