The battle for Champions League spots intensified tonight, as Newcastle leapfrogged Tottenham into 4th with their sixth win on the bounce, while Arsenal and Chelsea shared the spoils in the early kick-off, and Spurs carried on their awful form with a drab 1-0 defeat to relegation threatened QPR.
Chelsea were hardly relishing this early game, being sandwiched in between the Champions League Semi-Final legs against Barcelona, and duly rested eight players from that line-up for the game on Saturday morning.
Arsenal had looked to have secured third place as they racked up a succession of wings, but it is proving so tight at the summit, that just two wins in the last five, have seen Newcastle jump within 3 points of them, with a game in hand.
Few would bet against Alan Pardews team catching them, with 18 points from 18, including todays 3-0 victory over Stoke, in which they hardly got out of second gear, and totally bossed the game. Three of their last four fixtures are away though, and although they have won their last two away fixtures, they also lost five of the six preceding ones.
Tottenham have seemed to go into capitulation mode, winning just once in their last nine, although being demolished in the FA Cup by neighbours Chelsea didn’t help, nor does the weekly saga of “will he, won’t he” regarding their manager, and the vacant England position.
Their fixtures will be the tastiest to look at though, they have none of the top eight sides to play, and the next three are against bottom six teams, although they all have relegation worries to try and fight off, leaving potential banana skins all over the shop, and they could very easily finish the season out of the European places, whilst they were naively touted for title contention just weeks ago.
All four teams will be in action next weekend, on Saturday, Arsenal are away at Stoke, and Newcastle travel to relegation threatened Wigan, while Chelsea and Tottenham have to wait until Sunday, but are both at home, to QPR and Blackburn respectively.
Stay tuned later on, as I will look next into the four teams and their final fixtures, and try to come up with final standings based on how I think the season will plan out.
By Brad Smith