Arsenal's Top-4 Chances Reduced by Tottenham Victory over Everton

H Andel@Gol Iath @gol_iathAnalyst IIIJanuary 11, 2012

Spurs won the duel against Everton and they may yet win the one against Arsenal.
Spurs won the duel against Everton and they may yet win the one against Arsenal.Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Tottenham Hotspur brushed aside Everton to win their game in hand and go level with Manchester United on points. This takes them nine points clear of their North London rival, Arsenal.

The North Londoners scored a goal in each half of the match, through Aaron Lennon and Benoit Assou-Ekotto in the 30th and 63rd minutes respectively, to set them firmly on course to challenge for the title.

It now looks more certain that the younger brother will usurp the elder, and St. Totteringham's Day seems set to be forfeited this year.

Just yesterday Arsenal legend Thierry Henry stated his belief in Arsenal's ability to make top four this year to maintain the Wenger-era tradition.

He, however, acknowledged the fact that Arsenal will face stiff competition from the three other clubs also fighting for what is now an ostensible last spot in the top-four bracket.

ChelseaLiverpool and Newcastle United are all in contention for this remaining spot, assuming, of course, that Spurs will hold on to one of the three other spots as it's assumed to happen in the case of Manchester City and Manchester United.

After Gameweek 20 of the season, Chelsea are fourth on the table. Arsenal follow closely in fifth place, with only a point difference between them.

In hot pursuit at sixth and seventh places, respectively, are Liverpool and Newcastle. Arsenal lead both with two and three points in respective order.

Thierry Henry stated his belief that Arsenal will still be able to make the cut and finish the season among the elite top four.

"We obviously don't want to be out of the top four. There's going to be a hell of a competition this year to be in it.

But I do think this team has what it takes to be in it, if you think about the way the team has come back from the beginning of the season."

To achieve this goal, though, Arsenal have to battle one of their biggest obstacle at present: injury.

All of their full-backs are out currently with one injury or the other. To make matters worse, three of their covering defenders—Johan Djourou (suspension), Thomas Vermaelen (calf strain) and Francis Coquelin (hamstring)—are at present unavailable.

Henry, however, notes:

"The team is slowly getting into form. Again, we lost a full back against Leeds and we can do without injuries. That will help a lot.

But it is what it is. We still had to win a game out there against Leeds and it happened."

Arsenal play Swansea City on Sunday, a game they must win to keep the pressure off themselves and on Chelsea. Henry notes that Swansea are not a team to be dismissed.

"Swansea are an amazing team. I've been more than impressed with them, they play football the right way, they're dangerous, they play with two great wingers and we know it's going to be a difficult game for us."

What Arsenal fans will be expecting of him, though, are more goals to help the team advance closer to its goal. He is wary of the disappointment that can come from such an expectation, however.

"I know I scored [in the Leeds game] but that is not going to happen every time I play. I don't know if my runs were intelligent or not but that's the way I play.

I am going to try to bring what I can. Maybe another time it won't be enough, but I will always try my best."

In the past six seasons, Arsenal fans have despised the team's customary top-four finish; they have instead grumbled at the inability to win the Premiership title itself or any of the cups that are open for competition every season.

It looks, though, like a top-four finish by the Gunners this season will be a major achievement, one that Gooners of all stripe would gladly take. If Arsenal fail to make the cut, it will be the first time this happens under Arsene Wenger's 15-year tenure at Arsenal.

For now, Spurs are in a strong position to clinch one of those spots, together with the two Manchester clubs. The question, then, is can Arsenal take the remaining spot? With 18 matches left to play in the season, it would be foolhardy to conclude that they can't.