Well that was a strange night in a strange Premier League season.
Not one team is putting a consistent run together to go clear at the top of the league. And even teams who have had poor runs in the this season are still in with a shout of their ambitions.
Liverpool, who have had a horrendous time this season are amazingly in fourth position. Teams like Spurs, Aston Villa and Manchester City have all flattered to deceive and instead of taking advantage of Liverpool’s problems they’ve probably thrown away their best chance of breaking into the Top Four.
I have no doubt that Liverpool will make fourth now.
So how about the three teams above them?
Well Chelsea lost at Everton and Manchester United dropped points at Aston Villa.
But to me, they still both look strong. United created a lot of chances with 10 men at Villa Park and could have nicked all 3 points. Chelsea are still a solid team and Everton do have the ability to step it up against the bigger sides (we can vouch for that).
I think we can all agree that for various reasons (injuries to Van Persie, inability to defend counter attacks, etc.) that Arsenal have not been in stunning form this season. We’ve look unconvincing in several games this season and stars such as Andrei Arshavin have lost their form and haven’t performed enough. Yet amazingly, despite our inconsistent form we’re only 6 points behind Chelsea, and 5 behind Manchester United.
Don’t get my wrong, it’s still a massive gap as far as I’m concerned and the chances of lifting the Premier League title come May in my opinion are slim. Because to do it I firmly believe we would have to win 10 of our final 12 games, and that is a massive ask.
Our final fixtures are:
West Ham United (Home)
Birmingham City (Away)
Wolverhampton Wanderers (Home)
Tottenham Hotspur (Away)
Wigan Athletic (Away)
Manchester City (Home)
Blackburn Rovers (Away)
From our 12 remaining games, 6 are away and 6 are at home.
Looking at them on paper (well, on screen) they don’t look too difficult, in comparison to the fixtures Chelsea and Manchester United have left. Certainly, all of our home games are more than winnable but the away games could prove a lot trickier than they look.
Hull have recently beaten Manchester City and drawn against Chelsea at home, and you just know the Orange Phil Brown would love to take points from us. His record against us isn’t bad for a team tipped for relegation. Stoke is another problematic game – we lost there last season and we know about the FA Cup game last month.
Then the others against Birmingham City, Wigan Athletic and Blackburn Rovers will be fights, make no mistake about it. Whether we can withstand their physical tactics will decide how our season will pan out. They will try to bully us and the form of Nicklas Bendtner could determine where we end up in the league. He looked decent last night against Liverpool and our form of late proves that without a target man then we’re toothless. If Bendtner puts himself about and allows players like Rosicky, Arshavin and Nasri to play then we’ve got a chance. The fitness of Diaby is also important as he has the physical presence and has a knack of scoring important goals.
In my eyes, the only chance we have of pushing right to the end is if Bendtner stays fit for the rest of the season and starts every week. Having Arshavin or Eduardo as the central striker won’t do it. Defenders hate having to defend against someone who is good in the air. Bendtner isn’t exactly Alan Shearer but we need a different style of play to compliment our short passing game. We need to mix things up and make sure teams don’t use the same gameplan against us week after week (a la Manchester United and Chelsea).
Of course, we need to somehow find a way to make sure our defence doesn’t leak stupid goals. Can Arsene turn it around so we have a rock solid defence? If he can then we’ve got a chance.