It’s tight at the top, well at least for third place. With just four points separating Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal, the race between the London giants promises to be the most exciting action in the final third of the season.
With Manchester United almost guaranteed the title, and neighbours City marooned in second, the three horse race for the final two qualification spots is hotting up.
Spurs have the luxury of a slight lead and also the form of Gareth Bale, who scored another two goals on Monday to raise his tally to 15 for the season. Bale’s ability has won much praise of late, with some even comparing him to Lionel Messi, and although he may be three champions leagues and a few hundred goals short of the world’s best, he is still a weapon- as Monday’s demolition of West Ham showed.
However, although he can be devastating on his day, Bale is also prone to lapses in form. Last season Bale lit up Spurs’ early season, before a dip in form around March led to Spurs’ downfall. Under Harry Redknapp the North London whites were pushing for the title, but a tragic run of form around March time, led to them being caught and overtaken by bitter rivals Arsenal. People commented Spurs’ demise was down to speculation over Redknapp’s future at the club, but the truth may have been in Bale’s slump.
Monday’s victory showed Bale’s prowess as a player, but also his importance to Spurs. As a midfielder he was scored more than a third of Spurs’ goals this season, and at times has carried the team. But it could be argued Bale’s brilliance is partly due to the average team he is playing around. An inconsistent front pairing of Jermain Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor are hardly a comforting thought for a spurs fan, should Bale’s form dip.
Spurs’ reliance on their main man could end up costing them, especially in a tough run of games, which includes Arsenal, Liverpool and Swansea before the end of March. Sundays clash with Arsenal could be a crucial tie and decide the fate of both teams seasons.
Arsenal go into the clash at White Hart Lane after a poor run of form losing badly to Bayern Munich and embarrassingly being knocked out of the FA Cup by Blackburn Rovers. However, the Gunners can take some comfort in past omens. When the two sides met earlier this season, the reds ran out emphatic winners, hitting five past Hugo Lloris for two in reply. Arsenal have a good record at White Hart Lane and have twice won the title there, including most recently in 2004.
Arsenal have a point to prove, and will be playing for all three. A Champions league spot could be Arsenal’s last chance to salvage something from a poor season, and have got their Premier league campaign back in gear with a win over Aston Villa last weekend. Unlike Spurs, Arsenal are not carried by one single player, and have the attacking options to cause problems. Santi Carzola has been Arsenal’s stand out player this season, and his link up play with Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud has been central to Arsenal’s recent success. Arsenal would also fancy themselves to have the stronger midfield. Jack Wilshire has been instrumental since returning, and has formed a strong partnership with Mikel Arteta in the centre.
What’s more, Arsenal have a greater squad depth than Spurs, and look set to go the distance. Spurs will also face a tough two tough legs against Inter Milan, a tie which could further cripple an already weakening squad. It wouldn’t be wise to against the gunners celebrating St. Totteringham’s day once more this year.