Since I started watching the Premier League, not one season has gone without a unique, riveting ending. From last season’s sensational finish, to the 09/10 season when Chelsea whipped Wigan 8-0 to secure the title, and also the relegation battle, defining moments for the struggling teams; it’s always been a recurring epic end to the season. Surely this year will be the same.
As Man Utd have clinched their 20th title, the focus is firmly on the ‘top four battle’ with Spurs, Arsenal and Chelsea vying for the remaining 2 spots. Over the years, qualifying for the Champs League has always been some sort of norm for us and Arsenal. Not this season though. The manner in which Chelsea earned a spot last year and the fierce competition intensified by Spurs and Everton has raised the bar a notch.
All eyes will be glued on the 4 games that will determine who joins the Manchester Clubs in the Champ Lg for all the prestige, bragging rights and of course, the money that comes along with it.
So, as a prelude to the anticipated finale, here’s a follow-up of the series of articles put up on this site, assessing the performances of the 3 London teams and how they shape-up for qualification.
Perhaps Arsenal wouldn’t have had to struggle with qualification if they hadn’t dropped so many points against the top teams. Just 7 points from 28 is a testament to their unproductive outings against the top teams. Last weekend’s game against Man Utd provided the Gunners an opportunity to redress the trend. And having started the game determinedly and getting an early goal, it seemed Arsenal would finally get one over the ‘big guns’. Well Arsenal, for all their worth, couldn’t hold the lead till the break as they shot themselves in the foot and confirmed our scepticism.
With only 3 games left and those being against teams in the lower regions of the division, the Gunners can put their beating-the-top-teams syndrome aside and focus on getting all 3pts against QPR, Wigan and Newcastle.
If there’s a game Arsenal can’t afford to mess up, it’s the QPR game. QPR are 19th on the table, they’ve not scored in 3 games, they’ve not won in 6, the last time they did was on March 9 and ultimately, they are relegated. There is virtually nothing to play for. For The Gunners, the game couldn’t have come at a better time. Having played a game more, dropping points at home against Utd wasn’t good enough, still these games, starting with QPR present the Gunners the ideal chance to make up for lost points and thrust themselves into a comfortable zone.
Chelsea’s quest for Champions League football boils down to the next 4 games. To be or not to be is dependent on these games but then again, the key is that its in our own hands. Having returned to the 3rd position, 3pts above Spurs and 1, with a game less, over Arsenal, it’s hard to argue that favour tilts towards us not only due to our current position, also in the last couple of games we’ve been the most consistent out of the 3 sides.
The prospect of playing United at Old Trafford, as daunting as it seems, shouldn’t overhelm us, unlike Arsenal. We’ve already defeated Utd on 2 occasions(F.A. and Carling Cups) plus, if just for honour, any form of motivation for Utd died down with the draw at the Emirates. United won’t be as keen on this.
For us, qualification is centred on the Spurs game, and so would focus. A point would be enough against United but anything less against Spurs could mar our hopes. A win against Spurs all but confirms our top four spot.
Only a fool woulf write Spurs out of the contest, but the draw against Wigan could eventually turn out to be the devastating blow that renders their efforts useless. After beating City, we all expected Spurs to build on from there and take maximum points against lower teams. But seeing them struggle to break Wigan, although also fighting for their lives, shows Spur’s fallibility.
Nothing is decided. However, Spurs must defeat Southampton at White Hart Lane to muster any self-reliant chance of qualifying. Southampton haven’t won in their past three games nor scored in the past two yet, the threat they possess in their frontguard remains. Spurs must not lose focus here as this is a chance to spring themselves up.
Whatever happens in those games, as pivotal as they are for each contender, wouldn’t ascertain much. But on next week Wednesday hinges the hope of the 3 teams and only then will we get a more definitive picture of how the top 4 will pan out.
By Salako Aramide