Back in January before the world boarded this awful coronacoaster, I proposed that Arsenal would need 64 points to qualify for a 4th place Champions League spot.
At that stage, we were in 10th, with 27 points, having played 21 games. Liverpool were unbeaten, with 58 points, Leicester behind them with 45 points and City in third with 44. We now have ten games remaining and 30 points to play for. Most Gooners have resigned themselves to taking whatever comes in this first season under Arteta – I suppose you could compare our expectations for those 30 points to the thirty free spins available at Virgin Games offers.
Here is the latest table:
and the current form guide:
While acknowledging that form counts for nothing after this extended (and unwanted) break – I still believe that Arsenal has momentum, and this mid-season pre-season has given Arteta a chance to work in much greater detail on implementing his vision for the Club. With tonight’s City game in hand – and an opportunity for Arteta to win dollops of respect if he can somehow steal a win over his mentor – Arsenal has the opportunity to climb to 43 points above Sp*rs into 8th spot. (or even 7th, if Sheffield somehow lost to Villa tonight…)
I still maintain that the top 3 spots will be filled by Liverpool, City and Leicester – which means that there will be a pack of 6 battling for that coveted 4th spot and the riches it unlocks. Chelsea, United, the effervescent Wolves, an impressive Sheffield, North London’s jewel and Mourinho’s lot down the lane – all separated by 5 points with 27 to play for, if Arsenal win tonight.
To reach the magical 64 – Arsenal would then have to take 21 of the 27 points remaining. The compressed schedule will favor the richer clubs, with their deeper squads – so I am hoping that Wolves and Sheffield may lag as they approach the finish line, leaving old rivals to fight it out. United’s inconsistency and Sp*rs’ post-Champions League Final implosion indicate that they, too, may not have what it takes to end the season with the bang required, leaving Chelsea as our biggest threat.
With games remaining against all the teams above us, except for United and Chelsea – Arsenal can still have a major say in how the season ends. 6 of our ten remaining games are also Away – which traditionally would not count in our favor – but in the current fan-less Covid model, may not be as punitive.
Sure – it would be a miracle if Arteta could pull off Champions League qualification in his first season at the helm, but anything can happen in football – and it usually does.
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.