Take a look at the Cann table for week 27 (below). Spurs have a game in hand tonight and if they win, they leapfrog Chelsea into third place – a mere 5 points off second place Man City. However, if they lose (or even draw), things are so close in the 3rd-5th place bunch that the North London Derby next Sunday becomes game which Arsenal could overtake their local rivals.
But if you look at the Cann table, you can see that no matter how optimistic you are in looking up the table, there are people who could look down the table and have just as much right to think Arsenal could still finish anywhere from 2nd to 9th.
Personally, I’m not thinking either extreme. Arsenal don’t play City or Chelsea again this season, meaning that the Gunners can’t take points off them as direct rivals. Taking second place, then, means a major slip by the two wealthiest teams in the League. And if you look at the remaining matches it’s actually the clashes between the top 9 teams which are going to decide those 2nd-4th place slots and ultimately the 7amkickoff 4th Place Trophy™.
Man City and Arsenal play 5 of the top 9 teams while Chelsea and Spurts play 6 of the top 9 teams in each of the last 11 matches of the season. It’s those teams, the Swanseas, West Broms, Liverpools, and Evertons which have a major say in the final table.
Despite the major gaps in spending, I bunch all of those teams, from Chelsea to Swansea, together as fighting for the 2nd-9th places. There are only 12 points difference between Chelsea (49 points) and Swansea (37 points) which is the same difference as between Man U (68 points) and Man City (56 points). And if Man City has a right to believe that they could still win the Premier League then surely Swansea has every right to believe that they could take third place? Especially since so many of these teams are all going to be playing each other.
The race for 4th place has been this close for two seasons now. By matchday 27 last season Arsenal were only 4 points behind Spurts and the remainder of the season turned on a few special moments. This season, I’m thinking could turn into a photo finish for several teams with each vying for Champions League football and all of them playing each other.
So, while the North London Derby is important, one of the biggest games of the year for both teams regardless the history of the match, it’s the others against the West Broms, Swanseas, Liverpools, and Evertons which are equally important. And the team with the real mental strength, the real consistency, will be the one to take third or fourth.
But second? Not impossible, but let’s just win the games in front of us first.