Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Fourth Place Is "Up For Grabs" For Arsenal

Only a couple of weeks ago Arsenal were beaten 2-1 at Spurs and their chances of a top four finish looked to be slim at best. With 10 games to go they were seven points behind their local rivals who were on their longest ever unbeaten run in the Premier League. It looked like Arsenal were going to have to dig deep and hope either Spurs or Chelsea slipped up too.

Only two weeks later that gap has been reduced to four points and Arsenal now have a game in hand too. They managed to get a very good 2-0 win away to Swansea last Saturday and were able to sit back and watch the continued implosion of Spurs on Sunday. After beating Arsenal they had a chance to increase the lead to 10 points when they played away to Liverpool while Arsenal didn't have a game.

They led the game 2-1 mid way through the second half and they seemed destined to take the three points. However, they handed two goals to Liverpool to lose 3-2 and followed that by losing 1-0 at home to Fulham on Sunday. In between those games they played 120 tiring minutes in Milan before winning through to the last eight of the Europa League.

Their continued participation in the Europa League looks like it could be harming their chances in the league and that has to be a good thing for Arsenal. They have drawn FC Basel in the quarter finals and must be favourites to make it through to the semi finals. The longer they spend in that competition the better it is for Arsenal as far as I am concerned.

Of course I don't want them to win it, but the more their squad is stretched over the run in the better it has to be for Arsenal. Spurs have at least 10 games left and maybe even 12 if they can dispose of Basel. Arsenal have only nine league games left and do not need to cast their minds to any other competition.

The win over Swansea showed a defensive strength which has being missing too often this season. Despite looking weak in defence Arsenal have got the best defensive record away from home in the league. If that defensive solidity can be continued at home it augers well for the remaining games.

Those games will be far from easy with home games against both United and Everton among them. There are also trips to both West Brom and Newcastle as well as games against teams fighting desperately against relegation. None of those games will be easy, but they are all potentially winnable.

Spurs have some very tough games coming up and have hit a bad patch at exactly the wrong time. When the pressure was on them at the same stage last season they folded to allow Arsenal to overtake them and it could happen again. Arsenal have to be able to take advantage of any more slips from Spurs as well as trying to close the gap on Chelsea.

To this day my greatest moment as an Arsenal fan was that magical moment on May 26th 1989 when Arsenal won the league at Liverpool. The "it's up for grabs now" quote from the commentator on the night has gone down in history. At the moment it feels like Arsenal's chance of a top four finish us up for grabs and thru might just manage to pull it off.

Ideally the team would have delivered a trophy this season, but if they can make the top four it is better than nothing. It would mean Champions League football next season and all the advantages that go with that.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

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