Is There Title Race Hope Yet For Arsenal?
After the draw at Southampton I publicly declared my belief in Arsenal’s ability to win the league this year to be dead. Three points from a possible twelve and probably no decent performance since beating City on the 21st of December had left my dreams in tatters. This Arsenal side does not look like a title contender at the moment.
Being 5 points behind Leicester isn’t the end of the title race, especially given their next two matches, but the lacklustre performances and complete disintegration of the midfield has obliterated our chances in so far as we are no longer masters of our own fate.
I’ve never agreed with the opinion that champions don’t rely on rivals failing or hope for it. It would be ludicrous to imagine City and Leicester (and Spurs… yuck) not rejoicing at our recent form. The position Arsenal now find themselves in is one where they need the teams above them to stumble a little so they can regain control.
As it stands no team is on target for 80 points this season which is a bit of an outlier in terms of the Premier League this century. It stands to reason that Arsenal would need to exceed 80 points to snatch the title. With just 14 games left Arsenal would need to win at least 11 of them and draw the other three. It doesn’t seem a realistic target considering the matches we have to come.
Fortunately for The Gunners the other sides have equally tricky fixture lists. If Arsenal are to win the title this season I estimate they will need to win at least 10 of their remaining 14 games and those 10 wins must include victories over Leicester, Spurs, United and City. Given that the Manchester City game is the penultimate game of the season it is possible Arsenal can draw that match and still win the title but they must be ahead of City going into that match. If it comes down to the final day of the season with both clubs needing wins to claim the title my money would be on City not being the ones to bottle it. As much as it pains me to say that.
This weekend is an opportunity to close the gap on both Manchester City and Leicester as they play at the Etihad on Saturday. Arsenal play away to Bournemouth on Sunday so they have the luxury, and the pressure that goes with it, of knowing what has happened before they play. Whatever the result it is imperative Arsenal win.
Beating Bournemouth won’t be enough to start getting back to track on its own. It has to be a convincing win. We’re not going to claw back the goal difference with Tottenham in one game so I’m not advocating a 5-0 win here – although it would be nice. What we need to see is a dominant midfield showing, grateful finishing and an unspectacular defensive performance. It’s all good and well watching our defenders make last ditch tackles and completely boss the opposition but a comfortable and convincing win means they have a quiet game.
If Arsenal can win in a convincing way they will have a basis for a good performance the week after against Leicester. I’m torn over what result I am hoping for in the Manchester City vs Leicester match. A draw works for us because we can gain ground on both teams and a win the week after would take us level on points with Leicester.
The same day we play Leicester, Manchester City will be hosting Tottenham. Once more, any result in this match will be beneficial to Arsenal in some way. If we base on calculations on Arsenal winning both of their next two matches then the maximum points available to Leicester, City and Spurs is 3, 6 and 6 respectively. The minimum to each is harder to determine because they play each other and that is where the opportunity lies for Arsenal.
The best Arsenal can hope for is to be ahead on goal difference after two games but I think it more likely they’ll be a point or two behind or 2nd on goal difference. Maybe I’m just trying to reconcile my deliberate attempts at positive thinking with the potential benefits of the fixture list but there could genuinely be an opportunity for Arsenal here.
This has been a crazy season so far and that’s evinced by how Arsenal jumped from 1st to 4th in a few matches and could jump back to 1st in just two more. It’s a very open race and Arsenal certainly have a hand in it by manner of their points, proximity to the leaders and favourable fixtures. My fear is that we don’t have the fight for it. We look bereft of confidence at the moment.
I’m not quite ready to believe it’s our year just yet, I’ll see where we are in 4-5 matches before I left myself believe again but there’s certainly hope for Arsenal – it all depends on what they do with the opportunities they’re presented with.
Thanks for reading! Please comment on this post, subscribe by email, share with friends and follow me on twitter (@thedanielcowan). Please check out the official NLIR Facebook page http://facebook.com/northlondonisredblog for news, views, freebies and more.
Don’t forget to tune into the funniest Arsenal podcast around “Goonersphere Podcast“
Advertise your business here! Click here for details .