Leicester may have finally achieved the unimaginable, and clinched the Barclays Premier League Title for 2015/16 – but I have a sneaky suspicion that there is more craziness to come in this lunatic season. And – as usual – Arsenal has a huge role to play.
The game against Manchester City at the Etihad this Sunday could be the domino that turns the whackiness up to eleven, and here’s why:
Everyone (in the media) has been so focussed on hyping the race to be crowned Champion – a two-horse non-event ostensibly between Sp*rs and Leicester – that they have all but ignored the fascinating drama unfolding in the places immediately below.
In 2nd spot, Sp*rs are teetering dangerously on a calamitous end-of-season collapse, after being stymied in their quest for glory (as if) by a resurgent Chelsea on Monday night. (To say Sp*rs lost their cool would be a huge understatement – they lost control of their players AND staff, and face multiple punitive actions by the FA for their desperate, last-gasp displays of dirty patheticness.) The Spuds face Southampton at Shite Hart Lane in an early match on Sunday – battered and bruised, and no doubt drowning in sorrow, having blown their best chance of a title since the middle of last century. They will also be without Deli Alli and Mousa Dembele. (How Lamela got away with stamping Snake Fabregas remains a mystery.)
This is a game that Twattenham could very easily lose: they have folded under far less pressure before. Southampton have their tails high after trouncing Shitty on Saturday, and with a relatively simple final game against Crystal Palace, they have a Europa spot firmly in their sights. Unbeaten since Losing to Leicester on March 2oth (W4 D1), Southampton are on a roll. (In the same period, Sp*rs, have won two and drawn three. It’s going to be a tough game.
My prediction TOTvSOU: SP*RS LOSE or DRAW
Sp*rs then travel to Newcastle on Matchday 38.
Newcastle are in a battle for their Premier League lives. With 2 wins and 2 draws in their last 4 games, and the wily Rafa Benitez at the helm – Newcastle look like they may have the momentum to see them escape the drop zone. They’ll be looking for a win away at Villa on Saturday, but that won’t be enough, since both Norwich and Sunderland have a game in hand. A final day win against Sp*rs is an absolute necessity.
My prediction NEWvTOT: SP*RS LOSE or DRAW
Since losing to Swansea at the Emirates on March 2nd, Arsenal are unbeaten. (That sounds better than it actually is: we have won 4 and drawn 4 of our last 8 games, and a couple of those wins were pretty hairy.) However, we have all of our players fit; Cazorla and Wilshere could very well get some playing time at the Etihad on Sunday. We still have our pride to fight for – and if Sp*rs lose to Southampton in the earlier Sunday game – that may be just what we need to give us the edge over a City side that has just suffered the disappointment of a Champions League Semi-Final loss, and the loss (again! – to injury) of their Captain and talisman, Vincent Kompany.
If our season was a shambles, City’s has been worse. They spent big last summer, and Chelsea’s woeful season start meant that City were firm favourites to clinch the title in Pellegrini’s final year. The elation of reaching the Club’s first CL semi-final was short lived, and playing a weakened team against Southampton last weekend seems, in retrospect, foolish. 3rd place was in their hands, and their fine form in April (W3 D1; Goals 10:2) enhanced their odds of retaining at least 3rd, and possibly pipping Sp*rs for 2nd.
However, the tables are reversed – and it is Arsenal who are now favourites to end this barmy season with bronze (or even silver) medals.
My prediction MCIvARS: ARSENAL WIN or DRAW
Arsenal face Aston Villa at home on Matchday 38. Results have been incredibly difficult to call this season, but Villa have been dire, and unless they perform some kind of Lazarean miracle, I don’t see them avenging last year’s FA Cup loss, or the 0-2 loss to us at Villa Park earlier this season. Arsenal have a great final day record – and if this game puts us above Sp*rs, as I believe it should, then they’ll be playing for North London Pride, and a very late St. Totteringham’s Day.
My prediction ARSvAVL: ARSENAL WIN
After playing us on Sunday, Manchester City then face Swansea away on the final day of the season. (Some interesting background on that match: at home this season, Swansea beat United, Chelsea and Liverpool and they drew with Sp*rs and West Ham. They lost to Arsenal and Leicester (both 0-3). City beat them 2-1 at the Etihad, but only with a 92′ Iheanacho goal. Swansea have won their last 4 home games (including games against ‘proper’ Chelsea and Liverpool) – in fact the last time they lost there was February 13th. So – don’t write off the Swans at home.
That said – Man City will be battling for Champions League qualification, with United hot on their heels – so I expect a fantastic showdown.
My prediction SWAvMCI: DRAW
United play Norwich away on Saturday. I know that Norwich are fighting relegation, and that makes any team dangerous. However, they have lost their last 3 games – including a game with fellow bottom-dwellers Sunderland and Crystal Palace. They narrowly beat Newcastle 3-2 a month ago, with a 93′ Olsson goal. United, on the other hand, have been finding a semblance of form during the latter half of this season. Apart from a 3-0 drubbing at White Hart Lane a few weeks ago, their form since March 20th has been pretty decent: they have won 4 (including beating City away) and drawn 1 (on Sunday: against Champions, Leicester).
Louis van Gaal seems to have found a team with some attacking verve, and with an FA Cup Final to look forward to – and Champions League a definite possibility – I see United finishing the season strongly. I don’t think Norwich will be able to take anything away from this game.
My prediction NORvMUN: UNITED WIN
United’s match-in-hand is on May 10th against West Ham. This has the potential to be a stupendous battle. West Ham are unbeaten since February 6th when they lost to Southampton away. Since then they have drawn 5 and won 5. They drew with Leicester and Arsenal and beat Sp*rs. (In fact – their record against the Top 6 has been pretty impressive: against Arsenal: 4pts; Liverpool: 6pts; City: 4 pts; Chelsea: 4pts; Leicester: 1pt; Sp*rs: 3pts; United: 1pt so far… That’s 23 from a possible 39. Not bad at all…)
West Ham can be tricky at home (as we found out – although we did go out of our way to make Andy Carrol look like a decent footballer – he’s not.) This is also their last game at Upton Park – so expect an emotional and vocal crowd – something like the final game at Highbury, where Thierry’s hat-trick secured our Champions League spot in a 4-2 win against Wigan.
Difficult to call this – but I think the circumstances give West Ham the edge.
My prediction WHUvMUN: WEST HAM WIN or DRAW
United’s final game is at home to Bournemouth, whose form has been haphazard of late (to say the least): DWWWLLWLLL including losses to Everton, Chelsea, Liverpool, City and Sp*rs. They’re obviously not giant-slayers, and with Premier League action secured for next season, I don’t see them troubling United.
My prediction MUNvBOU: UNITED WIN
6th: West Ham
5 points off 4th, with a game in hand – West Ham have had an incredible season. The fact that they have drawn 14 games (yes, 14!) makes it even more incredible. (No team has drawn more – Everton have also drawn 14. Sp*rs have drawn 13.) The first of their final three games is against Swansea, at home. They drew in Wales against the Swans on December 20th – their 4th draw in a month-long run of 5. Swansea, on the other hand, have had a pretty dismal Away record of late: D1 L3 since beating us at the Emirates on March 2nd. Although their last game was a decent win against Liverpool, it was a Liverpool side full of players that most Liverpudlians had never heard of… Before that were two thrashings: 0-4 at theLeicester’s King Power, and 0-3 to Newcastle. (Benitez’s Newcastle). I see the Swans getting hammered.
My prediction WHUvSWA: WEST HAM WIN
I’ve already covered The Hammer’s midweek game-in-hand clash with United – so lets move on to their final game: May 15th, away at Stoke.
Stoke have had a decent season – they’re currently tied with last season’s champions on 48 points. (LOL) They are playing a brand of football that is decidedly less rugby-ish and un-Stoke-like. However, their run of form heading into Matchday 36 was atrocious: they drew at home to Sunderland, and lost their previous three games: 0-4 to City, 0-4 to Sp*rs and 1-4 to Liverpool. They drew to West Ham (0-0) in the opposite fixture on December 12th, and their home record against top teams is alway strong. This season they lost to Liverpool and Sp*rs, drew with Leicester and Arsenal, and beat ‘weird’ Chelsea, City and United.
With nothing much to fight for, and with West Ham looking to end the season on an all-time high – I’m imagining that Bilic’s Boys will grab all the points on hand.
My prediction STKvWHU: WEST HAM WIN
Phew! Still with me? Let’s have a look at how that leaves the top 6 spots at the end of the season:
|Team||Points Min||Points Max|
Pretty interesting, huh?
Here is my analysis of the results according to my predictions:
If Sp*rs take their maximum 2 points and Arsenal take their minimum 4 points, then that lot will beat us by one point. There will be no St. Totteringham’s Day. The sky will fall on our heads, and there will be some very unhappy Gooners.
However, every other scenario (Arsenal and Sp*rs both take max points; Arsenal takes max and Sp*rs takes min; Arsenal and Sp*rs both take min) would see Arsenal pipping Spurs to 2nd place (and our best finish in the EPL since 2004-05.)
You read it here first. St. Totteringham’s Day will be on May 15th, 2016.
Sp*rs – forever in our shadow. See above logic.
There is a scenario where City, United and West Ham could all end up with 66 points., In which case City would probably win the coveted Champions League qualification spot due to their superior Goal Difference,
However – if West Ham grab the remaining 9 points on offer to them – then they would leap-frog City AND United into 4th. Fancy that!
No Champions League for Pep… Would he still go to City? Is there a CL clause? Would that make him free to come to Arsenal? Interesting…
If United take max points, and West Ham draw against Swansea or Stoke – no matter what City do – then United would take 4th, and van Gaal may just find himself employed for another year. Which could mean NO MOURINHO..?
There are plenty more surprises in store. Especially if Liverpool win the Europa League, and nab a precious (and rare) 5th Champions League spot. (They would have to qualify…)
If the League ends:
- Leicester City
- West Ham
- City/ United
… would you still say that the season has been a failure for Arsenal? Would you still want Wenger to leave?
Feel free to share your opinions in the comments below. I have obviously put my cock on the block. Hopefully I haven’t jinxed anything.
Thanks for staying this long.
Paul Hepker (aka invinciblog/batmandela) recently returned to South Africa after a 16-year stint in Hollywood, where he plied his trade as a film and TV composer. He adopted Arsenal in the mid-80′s, and if it doesn’t start behaving soon he’s going to send it to boarding school.
As an ardent Gunner propagandist – he has contributed a number of tongue-in-cheeky images to the Goonerverse – one of which is bound to get him into trouble at some point.