As promised in today’s earlier post here is the outcome of Yogi’s peering into Mystic Meg’s Crystal Ball. Given it was slightly cloudy it only covered the Premiership but provides conclusive evidence that there is no point in worrying about the race for fourth place as Arsenal will finish there (or thereabouts if this proves to be the complete tosh it’s shaping up to be).
Saturday’s win at Everton by the Tiny Tots threw my initial thoughts into complete chaos as I had that one down as a home win, at best (or worst depending on your viewpoint) a point for the mob up at The Lane.
So currently, they sit four points clear of Arsenal, having played one game more. The fixtures for the remaining games and their possible outcomes are below:
22nd April 2006
Arsenal 2 – 0 Tottenham
The result of this game could be affected by the midweek exertions against Villarreal although it would seem to be the game in which Campbell and Cole will return to first XI action. The big impact though could be the absence of Ledley King in defence. Davenport and Dawson do not convince me that they would be able to prevent Henry scoring whilst the Arsenal defence is improving as a unit. It may be that Mido will play to exploit any weakness that there is in the air but I think that our forward line would be too strong. Which would leave the Tottenham in fourth with 61 points, just one point ahead of Arsenal on 60 but having played a game more.
30th April / 1st May 2006
Tottenham 2 – 1 Bolton Wanderers
Sunderland 0 – 1 Arsenal
In much the same way that Sunderland have freefallen out of the division, Bolton had slid out of Champions League positions contention and it must be said, look unlikely to be included in the UEFA Cup next season if their form does not improve. A point yesterday against West Brom may have stopped the slide but can they raise their game to get anything from Tottenham. The answer, yes they could, but it looks unlikely. This weekend coming, they entertain Charlton which should help them to regain some confidence but form on their travels does not inspire confidence. Since gaining a point at THOF on Febuary 11th, they have played seven games in all competitions and lost six of them. If you look at the Premiership, you have to go back to December 17th to find the last away game they won, 4 – 0 at Everton. Since then, eleven away matches have come and gone with a massive five points won. Indeed during that time, the only away victory was at Watford in the third round of the FA Cup. Unless they make a spectacular improvement, there is little chance of them gaining anything. Sunderland are well, just awful, the high point of their season is the recent 0 – 0 draw with Manchester United. So no change just yet, Tottenham on 64 points with one game to play, Arsenal on 63 with two left.
4th May 2006
Manchester City 1 – 2 Arsenal
A tricky match on the face of it, a place where we normally do well and one where I think we will sneak a win with City having little but pride to play for. They too have been in wretched form recently, a rut from which they show no signs of escaping. Finally, Arsenal hit fourth, total of 66 points with one game to go, two clear of Tottenham in fifth on 64. Which set up the last matches meaning Arsenal only need to avoid defeat to qualify for the Champions League.
11th May 2006
Arsenal 2 – 1 Wigan
West Ham 2 – 1 Tottenham
The final game of the season, Bergkamp scores the winner with a shot in the last minute from just outside the area to secure the Champions League qualification and a nice symmetry to his Highbury career having scored the goal that secured UEFA Cup football in his first seaso. Tottenhams’ defeat at Chavsville renders the Arsenal result meaningless.
Tomorrow night sees the biggest game in Arsenal’s season so far (Tick – never used that phrase before). Having lost the services of Sol Campbell, the usual suspects will line up in defence, the midfield bolstered by the return of Fabregas. Reyes is suspended so I would expect the line up to be:
Lehmann; Eboue, Toure, Senderos, Flamini; Ljungberg, Gilberto, Fabregas, Hleb; Pires; Henry
No place for Van Persie as I expect Wenger to keep the faith with the formation and personnel that disposed of Juve in the first leg of the last round. Despite their league position, Villarreal are more of a team than Real or Juve, probably the best that Arsenal have faced so far. Much has been made of the threat that Riquelme poses but more problematic will be the fact that they defend more as a unit. However, it appears that they are without a recognised Centre Half tomorrow which could prove problematic although Arruaburrena is solid at organising the defence from the full back position. The reserve goalkeeper, Sebastian Viera, is one that Wenger has shown a close interest in previously, the same as Senna the defensive midfielder. Both may consider the match as somewhere appropriate to show just why they were under scrutiny. The Valencians have shown that they are difficult to beat with a rejuvenated Forlan and Jose Mari up front capable of nicking an away goal.
If Arsenal can take a two goal lead forward to the second leg then that will be a great platform to build on but as before, it is important that a clean sheet is kept. And take nothing for granted; any team that gets this far deserves considerable respect.
Todays Tunes goes back to its’ roots and gets all soulful. Thanks to the guys at ModRadioUK for these: