As we head into Week 35 of this years campaign, another thrilling sets of matches are on offer as the jostle for Champions League spots heat up.
Prior to last weekends games, some league fixtures were played during the week and it had a bag of mixed results for two London teams who had games in hand. Arsenal was held to a scoreless draw by Everton, whilst a confident 3-0 at Fulham sent our confidence well up
So it was advantage Chelsea going into the weekend with 61pts, 3 ahead of Spurs with the same number of games and 1 ahead of Arsenal, having played a game more. But all that would change with each team having tricky games to play.
Coming on the back of a draw against Everton during the week, Arsenal travelled to South London to face Fulham, whom we beat midweek. As it goes for every derby, this was always going to be a tough game, especially with both teams dropping points midweek.
Both teams were shown a red card, and with Giroud being shown his marching orders, that could well benefit us as Arsenal head into the home straight a striker light,
Gunners’ fans might not be satisfied with the lack of gloss in Arsenal’s recent performances, that extra bit of guile that’s been a trademark for the side is missing, but nobody would moan at the level of consistency maintained. In 10 games, they’ve won 8, drawn 1 and lost 1. Although much of those games has been against lesser quality teams, they hold a record worthy of a top four spot.
Arsenal of old, at least months back, were splendid with the ball and often times, scored in their numbers but never were they steady in winning games. Even if they have always managed to qualify for the Champs League over the years, consistency has always been a problem but to have won 8 out of 10 shows that the Gunners are capable of ruffling feathers at the top and edging into that top four again, should they keep current form going of course.
Spurs should have had a game with Chelsea on the previous weekend, but Chelsea’s F.A. Cup duty with City meant Spurs had a long rest for their game against City. The game fixed for Sunday at White Hart Lane demanded a positive response from Spurs as Arsenal led with 5pts having won the previous day.
We were all cheering when City struck first, and though they would go on to claim the three points. But for AVB’s urgent tactical switch, Tottenham would have lost to a subdued City side. The replacement of Adebayor, Parker for Defoe and Holtby sparked life into their game.
You can’t argue that AVB’s subs changed the game, but I imagine we were all laughing when Adebayor was selected to start with. The hunger and responsiveness shown by the players brought on must also be credited, it came in the nick of time. Yet, Spurs must feel they benefitted from City’s lacklustre show.
Having seen both rivals gain 3pts, it was Chelsea’s turn to file out against stern Merseyside opponent, Liverpool at Anfield. Benitez, Torres and Benayoun returned to their former ground amidst mixed reception.
Despite a subdued first 45 minutes, we took the lead, but the introduction of Daniel Sturridge changed the complexion of the game. After brilliantly setting up Gerrard, whose shot was saved by Cech, and striking the post, Sturridge would finally haunt his former club, tapping in from a fine pass. A Suarez handball produced a penalty for Chelsea which Hazard converted. However, Liverpool snatched a point in the 96th minute when Sturridge, a menace he was, crossed in for Suarez to score.
Whether it’s the pile of fixtures that’s starting to take it’s toll or lack off invention and drive, Chelsea didn’t do enough to get the full points and considering the deepening competition for the Champions League spots, it’s about time we started taking games seriously. Indeed, we got the first goal but we didn’t do much to trouble Liverpool’s defence. Although, we had a better hold of the game, ran rings round Liverpool’s area and had some corners but how many saves did Reina make? Yet we had a glorious chance to seal the game via the penalty scored but loss of concentration by our defence and woeful indecisions on Friend’s part, cost us the 3 points in the end
Ordinarily, it’s nice to win 4pts in 2 tricky games, nonetheless I felt dissapointed we didn’t get the 3pts at Anfield. However, we are 4th with a point above Spurs and 1 behind Arsenal with a game in hand. We are in good stead to make it but we have to be convincing and ruthless henceforth, starting with Swansea on Saturday.
By Salako Aramide