He was crying

Run-in with the Devil: why the NLD matters more than you already think

Both Arsenal and Tottenham have 12 games left in their season. Both teams have 6 home and 6 away games. Both teams face a mixture of tough opponents and easier opponents. Tottenham has a 4 point advantage in the table and Arsenal have a +7 goal difference advantage. Everything looks all square, just about, so which team is going to win The 7amkickoff 4th Place Trophy™?

As I like to do, I quantified the run-in. I used both Arsenal and Tottenham’s opposition’s current position on the League table to rank their difficulty. It’s a bit simplistic, I know, but to see how close I was to my gut, I first ranked them using just my instinct and then compared them to their position on the table. And it turned out that their position on the League table was pretty close to my instinct — with just a couple of notable exceptions.

Then I looked at both teams’ previous performance against these 12 teams and made a column for actual points accrued. Then I predicted an outcome for each match based on my gut feeling. I did this because frankly if I didn’t predict outcomes, someone would have called out for it and if I do make predictions someone will call me out for it, so either way I’m getting called out. I might as well make predictions because it gives you all something extra to argue with each other about!

Run-in with the DevilAs you can see from the graphic above Tottenham’s run-in has a greater difficulty of an average of 2.5 places on the League table over Arsenal. That means that their run-in is somewhere between Liverpool and Stoke City on average whereas Arsenal’s run-in is somewhere around Norwich and Sunderland.

This average difference is reflected in the actual points taken from the previous matches, with Arsenal edging Tottenham by a little less than .25 points per game over those 12 opponents. As an aside here, if you just take the total points taken from the previous encounters between the teams listed above, Arsenal only regain 2 points on Tottenham and to do that would require Arsenal to win at White Hart Lane. In the previous 12 matches against these opponents Arsenal had 21 points and Tottenham had 19.

But I don’t think that these next 12 games will shape up the way that they did in their previous encounters. For example, I just can’t see Wigan getting three points on Tottenham again and similarly I don’t see Arsenal losing to Norwich again. I also would like to point out that Arsenal have to play both QPR and Newcastle in the final weeks of the season, both of which are teams who spent enormous amounts of money in the January transfer window and radically overhauled their teams. If you remember, Wenger mentioned this very thing in a press conference a few weeks ago saying that teams who have to play Newcastle and QPR after January face a much different squad.

Admittedly, my predictions may be a little bit harsh on Arsenal. For example, I have draws in both of those games against QPR and Newcastle. I did that simply because I think QPR are going to be fighting for their lives to escape relegation, plus, that match follows on the heels of the big game against Man U and if previous seasons are any measuring stick, Arsenal struggle in the last few games after a big match. For example, there was a notable dip in form after Arsenal beat Man City last season, with the Gunners winning just 2 of their last 6.

Is that what I want to happen? No. I would rather Arsenal finish this season strong as a building block for next season. But the reality is that Manchester United could win the title at the Emirates this season and with this squad so unsteady at the moment there’s no telling how they would react if they let that happen.

That’s actually why I put that United game in red. It’s one of the two key games for the end of the season run-in. In fact, if you look at my predicted total and you change just either of those two red games to Arsenal wins, Arsenal overcome Spurs in the League table.

The other key game is, of course, the North London Derby (NLD). Arsenal face Aston Villa at the Grove next and Spurs face West Ham at the Bubble. I think that Spurms have just enough to get a draw there but that Allardyce is fighting for a new contract and he has his favorite target Andy Carroll back. That’s going to be a real tough game for them. Meanwhile, Arsenal will have to look at Villa as exploitable for all three points — the Birmingham side have really struggled with form this season and just recorded their first win in what seems like ages.

If Arsenal can win against Villa and West Ham can get a draw against Spurs, that North London Derby will be an actual battle for fourth place with just two points difference between the two teams. I predicted a draw above, but you know what? I might just change that.


53 thoughts on “Run-in with the Devil: why the NLD matters more than you already think

  1. Vote -1 Vote +1ickenham gooner

    On a match by match basis, your results appear very reasonable.

    Who will get 4th place? Who knows.

    Given how inconsistently we have played it’s amazing we are still in touch.

    Based on that, I predict neither side will get more than 18 points overall in the remaining games (withoiut any theory to the number), and if we do not win the NLD derby we will not finish in the top 4.

    That said, if we win the NLD we may see twitch from the crown up the road.

  2. Vote -1 Vote +1Ssinderias

    NLD is a must-win but I don’t think QPR will have much fight left. They will be relegated already by the time we play them. Given the character of their manager and their newly signed mercenary Frenchmen, we might just thrash them 3-0 or better. We must get 6 points from Everton and Scum to get to 3rd or 4th, and maybe even 1 point from ManUre

  3. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1stynyr

    Very well done yet again. But this post opened my eyes to one thing. This season sucks. I will continue to watch and read as much as I can, but my goodness this season has sucked. I love your work, but you just wrote a post about how we can sneak into fourth! I know we’re getting shafted by the sheiks and oil billionaires and cheaters and I wouldn’t want The Arsenal to win any other way than how they’ve always won (hard work, pretty football, built not bought). It’s just depressing and it’s getting the best of me. Fucking hell.

  4. Vote -1 Vote +1Nick

    The NLD is a six point match. If one team wins that, i think that team will stay in the top 4. let’s not forget Chelsea is only 1 point above Totts and they are not in the best of form.

  5. Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

    Our only hope of winning the fourth-place trophy is if Bale gets a nice long injury. If we were a one-man team last season, then this season that mantle has passed squarely to Tottenham.

    I used to think Bale was over-hyped beyond belief, and I suppose he still is to some extent, but you can’t argue with his contribution to Tottenham’s season. To add to his heroics–I’m barfing right now, I hope you know–they’ve put together a really solid central midfield. Oh how I long for the days when Tom Hundredstone was their lynch-pin.

    Anyway, I’m sort of resigned to fifth place this season. While it would be a big loss, I don’t think it’s the complete disaster some are making it out to be. For one, I see this season as a massive transition–more than in recent years–with several new players adapting, and younger ones really just starting to come good. We’ve just signed a strong British core, and I think that will also help.

    I think we’ll be a much better side next season, and in a much better position to challenge for the annual 7amkickoff fourth-place trophy. Plus, the Europa League (barfing again, yes), will allow us to rest players on a regular basis… Maybe. We just don’t have the squad to seriously challenge on three (let alone four) fronts.

    And no, I don’t think our failure to play in the Champions League will create an exodus or hinder us from strengthening in the summer. I’m convinced that all we might need in the summer is a goalkeeper, but for the most part just focus on maintaining stability.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1Subbed after 70

      Lol. Straws – clutching – at. How about the early season games when he was getting flak from the arsenal media for diving, and we were still picking up points.


  6. Vote -1 Vote +1Buckagh

    Don’t think we will sneak fourth with this team unfortunately this situation is completely of the managers and clubs making. Anyway time will tell if not securing 4th has positive or negative effects on the mid or long term future of Arsenal.
    While I would not want to see a Chelsea or City approach here I would like some honesty from the club about why we don’t spend the money that is allegedly available on quality players and wages to secure the quality we have stays. I am a comitted Wenger supporter, but I don’t see his current vision or that of the chairman enabling Arsenal to catch up on the yawning gap that has opened up between actually winning the league, and qualifying 4th.

  7. -17 Vote -1 Vote +1Ur a wankstain

    Who give a fuck what you yankie cunts think….bale will roast your hopeless team.its over,live with it.

    1. +7 Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

      You don’t give a fuck so much that you bothered to flaunt your failed education on a Yankee Gooner website. What a miserable half-wit you are.

      1. -6 Vote -1 Vote +1pensioner

        Fair ebough to label people half wits and perhaps the racist accusation is fair but aren’t you rather two faced or hypocritical with yoiu feigned holier than thou attitude. What sort of alleged sports lover wishes for a serious injury to a player of ANY club?. At least win at all costs hasn’t infected this side of the Atlantic to the same extent and in general we respect other sides outstanding players. I admire the USA and have many friends there., but they all act in a decent manner. You are a disgrace to the club you purport to follow. Obviously no concept of shame.

      2. +8 Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

        …speaking of holier than thou.

        Spare me the weepy “this side of the Atlantic” diatribe. On your side of the Atlantic, folks sing gleeful songs about a player’s broken leg, paedophilia, a plane crash in Munich, and Hillsborough, all the while chanting absurd bits of racism about African or black players, and proudly sticking up for racist players. All of this occurs on “your side of the Atlantic.”

        I’ve never, ever, been to a sporting event of any kind in North America where fans taunted each other by singing about death or child molestation. How proud you must be to live on “that side of the Atlantic.”

        Also, this is funny: “In general we respect other sides outstanding players.” Don’t try this lie on me. While I currently live in the US, I also lived in Britain for four years and went to several games. By “respect,” you must mean the chants about opposition players (of all quality) being cunts?

        What a fool you are.

        Come back when you learn to think for yourself instead of regurgitating some parochial nonsense about Merry England.

    2. Vote -1 Vote +11NiltotheArsenal

      Usually I don’t dignify trolls with any kind of a reply as people like Bunburyist are far superior with their rejoinders, but I must say this blog handle is perfect! So appropo. You are indeed a “wankstain” and a true reflection of your club.

    3. Vote -1 Vote +1jaymin

      Don’t know why you guys are slating him, he can’t help it. he’s the most accurate representation of their fanbaseheads i’ve heard from in a while.

  8. +2 Vote -1 Vote +11NiltotheArsenal

    Another excellent piece, if only to add to my nervousness over the run-in. Good also that you are protecting your intellectual property with the trademark symbol: “The 7amkickoff 4th Place Trophy™”. It’s sure to be worth millions in a few years.

    I don’t think the Man United match will count for much except for more agonizing of a certain Dutchman of whom I’m really sick of talking about. I think the first two league games in March, away at White Hart Lane and Everton at home will seal our fate one way or the other.

    I want my Mommy…

  9. Vote -1 Vote +1jaymin

    I for one will be rooting heartily for Spuds in the arduous, slay-dog flaying iditarod triple-marathon that is the Europa League knock-out rounds. If they get to the final, they will have to play thirteen (13!) more matches, literally across the whole of bloody Eurasia!

    Anyway, they’ll fuck it up, the question is will we be consistent enough to take advantage again. I hope we don’t live to regret signing Holtby, but I’m broadly in agreement with Burnburyist here: 5th place is not the disaster and brimstone we’ve been told it will be for years now. Spuds were out of the UCL last year (haha!) and they improved anyway. We’ve been in it for years now, and we experience a self-imposed decline. like Tim has said, it’s all about salary, and a fall from the top 4 might be what the ownership needs to be jolted out of parsimony and lethargy. or, we qualify i again (which i actually expect now: i had us finishing 6th in December, I think we will, however, nick that fourth spot now. no reason, just a feeling.) Btw fucking hilarious title to today’s article.

    Btw is anybody else having trouble posting comments via Chrome, or is this just my laptop calling me out on my hypocrissy in criticizing Arsenal’s miserliness and willingness to run their assets into the ground, while i should have replaced this overworked little bastard years ago myself?

  10. Vote -1 Vote +1jaymin

    Nevermind.I had inadvertently re-enabled the terrible “HTTPS EVERYWHERE” extension, which causes all sorts of problems with many facets of the interwebs.

  11. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Caribkid

    If we fail to make the CL it will not be a death knell for AFC as we have more than enough reserves to cover a £30-40 m loss. However, no team can afford to decrease their earnings by that amount consistently unless they have multi-billionaire backer who likes to spend money on his toys.

    It does pose another question however. Why gamble on missing out on the CL and potentially lose £30-40 m instead of purchasing a few quality players who would give us a better chance of obtaining that goal. Taken into perspective, the sale of Barkley and Song, and the loans of DJ and Santos this season is quite baffling all things considered. If Vermaelen and/or Koz is not fit for the Bayern game, our back four will certainly not frighten the Germans. The thought of Sagna, Squilacci, Mertesacker and Miquel being starters gives me the itch to put my head under the pillows and not watch the game.

    The other major problem we have in the long term is that we are running out “world” class players to sell with only JW (Yes, I know he is still relatively untried.) falling into that category. What then?

    1. -1 Vote -1 Vote +1jaymin

      I’m kind of hoping the drastic decrease in revenue and the stress it will encumber the current majority owner with will have its own calamitous effect, and lead to fan unrest, and that our american will decide to sell up rather than stand fast as the Glazers have. And sell. And then the rules apply to us in the same way they currently apply to Chelsea and City, and the way they will apply to United very soon, when they are sold for 3 billion pounds to unscrupulous owners.

  12. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Ric Good

    Yid in peace i think it will come down to how Arsenal react to losing in the champions league or fa cup IF they do.
    to see if the current crop of players have the confidence to pick themselves up from the disappointment it would bring.

    the NLD last season ended our chances of finishing 3rd because the players mentally lost it as did the Manager but with the NLD being at WHL this time we COULD put the shoe on the other foot.

    p.s Spurs won the corresponding fixture last season and in you’re points prediction you gave Arsenal 3 points :) .

    1. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1jaymin

      your refusal to utilize punctuation is a tactic akin to passing it along the back four constantly in a FIFA 13 match. not biting, baby : )

  13. Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

    Just finished watching a highly entertaining Celtic v Juventus game. Celtic threw everything at them, but Juve just carried on. Wanyama was immense. I can see why there’s interest from other clubs. Pirlo and Marchisio were imperial.

    1. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

      …and the game once again raised the issue of goal-line technology / video replay.

      Thing is, UEFA is ALREADY using video replay to make decisions in game time. For instance, Matri’s chip did in fact cross the line, but neither the ref nor the goal-line judge gave the goal, allowing play to run on and Marchisio to thump it in after the ‘clearance’. So, in the game, the ref clearly awarded the goal to Marchisio, but the official UEFA scoring eventually awarded it to Matri (only seconds after the event).

      Why not just make official what they’re officially doing anyway?

  14. -7 Vote -1 Vote +1Yidoooo

    When was the last time arse anal won at the lane?Far better arse hole teams have failed to beat us there.Bales going to be the diffence just as RVP was last season.You have been mid table all season,what makes you think you will hit championship winning form now? #itsover

    1. +5 Vote -1 Vote +1jaymin

      I can’t really speak to the recent meetings between Arsenal and Tottenham at WHL, but the last time I had Arse-anal at the lane was when i was giving it to your mom. While you fetched us some peanuts : ) I hate that it’s come out in a public forum like this, but better that the truth fly free, as they say, and come what may…

    2. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

      Since you wish to bring up history, I should point out that you’ve been living in our shadow for years. Years. If you emerge this season just this once, it’ll be an exception, not a rule. Next season, you won’t have Bale to carry you and you’ll be back to normal service beneath us.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1Subbed after 70

        Lol – you’ve got everything crossed for that to happen.
        3 words. SIX YEAR CONTRACT.
        no one running down their last year at the lane

      2. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

        …and yet another cliched response.

        Most impressive is how you said “3 words” and then produced three words. All in upper case.

        You totally got me, you rhetorical genius you.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1Subbed after 70

        No one, BUT!! we’re in a competition that we actually have a chance of winning, Your excuse is……
        It must hurt to see how far you’re team has fallen, invincibles to just plain shit, Title challengers to 4th place hopefuls, 30 points in front of Spurs to 1point, courtesy of one of the worst goalkeeping displays that you’ll ever see.

        Gooners (goners) on the up!!!!! lol

  15. -1 Vote -1 Vote +1Louie

    The 1 issue I see with your Spuds results is they don’t take into account the inevitable crap run of late season form which history tells us will take place.
    The back to back Chelsea, City losses need to be bookended by at least 2 or 3 more defeats/draws.
    I am not saying that the Gunners won’t experience their own bad patch (or two) on the run in, but I predict the Spuds implosion is imminent and the last month will be Arsenal scrapping around for third or fourth place with Chelsea and/or Everton

    1. -1 Vote -1 Vote +1Subbed after 70

      This will NOT happen this year. Harry Redknapp whoring himself for the England meant he lost focus and allowed the team to lose focus, it’s no surprise that when Hodgson was appointed we got back on track and started winning games again.
      He used virtually the same 11 all season and burned them out, AVB has rotated players in and out this season and has kept them fresh.
      Hope to see you scrapping with Chelsea for 4th. We’re after 2nd


      1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

        “This will NOT happen this year.”


        Weren’t you going on earlier in your boring way about things needing to be crossed, etc.?

        Every season, you guys brag about finishing above us…before the season finishes. Do you understand the phrase, “hostage to fortune”? No? I’ll let you Google it.

        Go ahead. Take your time.

  16. -5 Vote -1 Vote +1Taco Muncher

    Bale will not leave for less than 60 mill. That’s plenty of cash to reinforce the team with damiao and moutinho. Not exactly a massive downgrade and finally a decent striker. At that point only carloza would walk into Spurs XI. The tide has turned for good, sorry goobers

    1. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

      Right. Assuming you actually get Damiao and Moutinho, and assuming they adapt well to English football… Your bravado sounds like a lot of desperately hopeful flatulence, much like your annual predictions of a power shift. Here’s the thing, one season amongst countless seasons in which you finally finish above Arsenal (assuming you manage not to collapse) does not constitute a “power shift.” We’ve been finishing above you for years. Enjoy your one-man team while it lasts (another few months, I suppose).

  17. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Cliffy

    Surprisingly in the run in there is only one common fixture… that is Swansea away for both teams..

    For Tottenham that fixture comes just after Swansea’s bout with Arsenal and after that they face a set of 4 teams in Everton, City, Chelsea and Wigan all four who have beaten Tots fair and square in the reverse fixtures. If Tots wheels comes off this season, this is precisely the point where it happens…

    We face Westbrom, Norwich, Fulham and United in these fixture..

    If Tots get a maximum of 4 points from those fixtures, we have to clinch in 9 at the least. Like Tim mentioned the fixture with united becomes all the more crucial.

    It could get ugly in the end if we don’t get three points from NLD…but we do have to put our faith in Revitalised Southampton, Stoke and Sunderland to apply the final touches of disaster to Tots after the wheels come off..

    There would be no better starting to May than with relegating ‘arry and knowing that Tots are minding the gap..

    Another fact which I think got missed is our involvement in Fuckup…Tots are already fucked out of fuckup by Leeds. This is our genuine chance for a trophy and I think Wenger would prioritise it over fixtures with Westbrom and Norwich..which would trouble us in the catchup race..

    I dont know if it will come to finishing 5th against Tots 4th and winning FA cup and Champions league…That would be sweet then…wouldn’t it..?

    Its time for Rosicky and Gervinho to get into the act…

  18. Vote -1 Vote +1ignatzuk

    I tend to agree with a couple of the spuds above that the traditional Spurs fuckup might not come on schedule this year. Whatever you think about AVB, it looks like he’s instigated a new regime and I can’t see him letting that happen.

    I don’t think we have to fear Bale too much. He’s young enough to be inconsistent, he’s on a streak right now but he won’t keep up this form until the end of the season. And from what I’ve seen, defenders have been generous to him. The number of times he was allowed to cut in from the right and go for the top corner against Newcastle was embarrassing, it was just a question of time until one of them went in.

    Bravado and bullshit aside though, it’s going to be close. If we put a run together I think we’ll catch and pass them in the NLD or thenabouts, then we should have enough to stay in front.

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