Despite his team suffering an overwhelming defeat to Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley, Arsene Wenger contended that Arsenal were still involved in the fight for the top four places.
The reality is that the Gunners are only battling for fourth. City, top of the Premier League table, are 27 points clear while Manchester United in second, are 14 ahead. With ten games to go, the title is all but gone for Arsenal mathematically, reflected in the 1,000/1 odds in the Premier League betting.
Expecting United to drop that many points is as foolish as it is expecting Arsenal to take maximum points. Second is all but gone as well.
Liverpool currently third, are on the cusp of being uncatchable and almost are with a twelve-point gap but fourth? Win on Thursday night in their game in hand and Arsenal end the evening just seven points adrift of Tottenham.
Is that achievable or is Wenger’s dream dying? Let’s look at the factors at play.
1. Arsenal’s Form
There’s no way of saying it but in 2018, the Gunners are suffering. Out of the FA Cup, beaten in the League Cup final, and struggling into the Europa League Round of Sixteen. Arsenal are limping everywhere.
Since the turn of the year, it’s P12 W4 D2 L6 F21 A20 in all competitions. Not pretty reading. The Premier League is the one which counts now so how are they looking?
Not much better. 20/1 shots to finish in the top four, Arsenal have P6 W2 D1 L3 F13 A10; it’s their away form which has scuppered the Gunners this season with just three wins on the road this season and three consecutive defeats in 2018.
Unless they find a huge turnaround in form, Arsenal are set for the Europa League places.
2. Arsenal’s Fixture List
It is quite kind. They face Manchester City at home on Thursday and after that, only face Manchester United of the current top five. That trip to Old Trafford comes at the end of April.
It leaves nine games against teams lower than themselves in the table which out to be a cause for celebration. While at home that might be the case – only United have won at the Emirates in the Premier League so far – the four away games are the type of fixtures Arsenal have lost this season.
Out of 33 points available, it will be impressive if Arsenal take more than 23 points.
3. Chelsea and Tottenham’s Fixture Lists
April 1st – April Fool’s Day – is shaping to be decisive in the battle for fourth. Tottenham travel to Stamford Bridge, their footballing graveyard. Chelsea are unbeaten in the last six of this fixture, winning five. The odds are against Tottenham.
Both sides face Manchester City in the run-in while Chelsea’s final home game is against Liverpool.
Chelsea could well claim the same total as Arsenal – in our guesstimate, a range of 17 – 24 points between now and the end of the season. It makes it tight.
Tottenham need to claim six or less more points than Arsenal, so assuming their rivals get 23, can Spurs take 17 or more? By our reckoning, they should take 24; that’s three defeats on top of taking nothing from Chelsea and Manchester City. It would be their worst form of the season.
So, Is It Death or Glory?
Sorry Arsene, it’s the chop for you this summer.
Claiming fifth will be an impressive feat given Arsenal’s starting point. Fourth is asking too much although if the Champions League and FA Cup start to encroach on Spurs fixture list, anything is possible, particularly if they suffer heart-breaking defeats.
Well, we have to get some joy from the season, don’t we…?