Three matches remain, and in light of Chelsea’s spot in the Champions League final, third place has now become crucial for ensuring a spot for Arsenal in next year’s competition. If the Blues win the European Cup, third will no longer guarantee an automatic group stage spot, but if the qualifying round is what’s available, we need to grab the opportunity with both hands. Considering the season the team have had, it’s still a tremendous achievement.
Newcastle’s breathing down Arsenal’s neck in a run of supremely good form, a rejuvenated Chelsea still has an outside chance of getting into the top 4 on league merits (imagine that) and though Tottenham has been tailspinning out of control, they are more than capable of righting that ship/plane and ending strong.
If Arsenal should fail in the pursuit of third but still get fourth, the wait between the league finale on May 13 and the Champions League final in Munich on May 19 will be excruciating. For once, let’s not put ourselves through that particular ringer. One would hope Chelsea loses anyways, but I would hate for them to control our chances for being in the competition.
Speaking of the evil not-those-kind-of-players moneybags, it seems forever ago but there was the small matter of a London derby with Chelsea a week ago. The 0-0 draw may have been a bit of a snoozefest, but a point against Chelsea is never a bad result, even if they essentially put out their second string. And they obviously made the correct tactical decision, one that set themselves up for the dreaded but impressive aggregate victory over Barcelona. Perhaps we should have done better against their second string, but no use crying about it now.
At the end of the day, Arsenal controls its own destiny. Win all three matches and third goes to the Gunners, end of story. Fail to do so and we must rely on Tottenham to slip up again and for Newcastle to drop points against one or more of Manchester City, Chelsea, Everton and Wigan. If we can’t do the business and our rivals can win all their matches then, well, they deserve it. As would Chelsea if they best Bayern Munich in the Champions League finals. But I really don’t want us to have to be gracious losers.
On paper, matchups against Stoke, West Brom and Norwich do not present insurmountable feats, but then again we have an abysmal record against bottom-of-the-table teams. And Stoke is not a lowly team, although their mouth-breathing knuckledraggingness sometimes fools one into assuming so.
PFA Footballer of the Year, Robin van Persie, the only forward in the top-flight to have featured in every league game this season, is exhausted. Hopefully, however, he can marshal his not inconsiderable fight and skill to push us over the line. And then he’ll want to stay and we’ll sign some incredible support players and the future will be so bright we’ll want to blind ourselves because we can’t handle the truth of that future and the unbridled happiness it brings.
First step: Stoke away. Sure, it hasn’t in recent times worked out so well for the London boys but no time like the present to start a new trend of relentless domination. Recommendation for the day: Shawcross the Shawcrossers and let’s kick some Pulisian ass. Simple, really. (To clarify, I don’t want us to break any legs. Simply to destroy them, set the pitch ablaze and then apply a liberal layer of salt on top, Carthage-style.)
Come on you Gunners!