Friday, March 21, 2014
Tight at the top, but Arsenal are done if they lose
If Arsenal lost at Chelsea, you have to think they are out of the title race. They would be 7 points behind with 8 games left - yes they have a game in hand, but they'd probably have to win all 8 to even have a chance of finishing above Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City. They could finish 2nd, but overcoming all 3 rivals at this point will be tough anyway.
Arsene Wenger is desperate to end the trophy drought, but the FA Cup is looking like the more realistic option. And perhaps that is what Arsenal have lacked - options. Giroud has been out of form, and Walcott out injured - without them (or Ramsey's goals from midfield), Arsenal have struggled. I am just not sure they have enough options to mix it up should they go behind. But here's a game that they have to go for it if they go behind. There is really nothing to lose if they go down 2-0, 3-0 or 5-0 - some pride maybe, but Spurs, Everton and Manchester United aren't catching them for 4th.
As for Chelsea, a draw isn't terrible, but they are still in Europe and will be confident of progressing against PSG in the quarterfinals of the Champions League - although why anyone is confident of beating a team with Zlatan in is beyond me. Chelsea are getting old and slow at the back, but they have more than enough going forward to exploit some of Arsenal's weaknesses (and yes, I do mean Mikel Arteta in the defensive midfield role).
Manchester City have a tough week coming up, with United and then Arsenal to come - failing to beat Fulham should mean they don't win the league. Fulham have been awful all season, and City should be beating them 4-0 or more.
Liverpool have to win away at Cardiff and home to Sunderland in midweek if they are to realistically compete. Two of the league's bottom three have to be dispatched if Brendan Rodgers' team expect to win the title.
It's an interesting weekend at the top - no one can afford to lose, but if Arsenal do, we may be down to a 3 horse race. If any of the others lose (and Arsenal don't) they have to be right in the mix. The top is getting as interesting as the bottom - and I'm willing to hear all schoolboy jokes on that!