So we are coming into the final leg of the season where every point is vital and every performance by the individual and the team is scrutinized and with the Manchester clubs left fighting for the title it is the London clubs that are left fighting for third spot, oh and Newcastle. With eight games left and eight points separating third placed Arsenal with sixth placed Newcastle – with only goal difference separating them and Chelsea – things are really heating up.
On paper the team with the easier run in looks to be Tottenham who entertain Swansea next at White Hart Lane and then travel to Sunderland before they play Norwich at home. Neither of those games are particularly easy at the moment, but in comparison to other clubs they are winnable.
Since the Fabio Capello quit England and all the Media attention being on if Harry Redknapp is going to be the next England manager and the demoralising defeat to Arsenal, Tottenham have been in a slump. It looks like they are turning the corner now so the next three games are decisive, because if they do not get all nine points the fans will be worrying and I am sure so will Harry and his players. The mental side of the game is not something all the Tottenham players are used to and when everybody was talking of them possibly challenging for the title as if third place was already the least they would get, now to be fighting for third and possibly fourth will really be a new experience for them. Maybe Harry and Spurs did get to wrapped up in all their own hype and now are having to fight for something they could have had wrapped up by now!
Newcastle seem to have the toughest run in as they Liverpool at home next and then later in the season travel to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea, face Man City at home and then finally playing against Everton at Goodison Park.
Newcastle have a good squad with a solid spine. Krul, Coloccini, Tiote, Cabaye, Ba, Cissé and if they can keep their best players fit and keep the Demba Bros’ scoring then they could leapfrog Chelsea into Europe, which would really infuriate Roman Abramovich, and would really give Newcastle fans something to cheer about, which they not only need but probably deserve. It won’t be easy as they face some of the top teams but they have been there or there about all season with everyone waiting for them to trial off but it now seems that they are there to stay and duke it out with the big boys from London. I wonder how Mike Ashley would feel as a Chelsea fan if they did trump them to fourth or fifth place.
Arsenal face QPR away at Loftus Road next, and then face the test of Manchester City who are coming to the Emirates. The Chelsea game is going to be pivotal depending on other results.
Arsenal are in a great position at the moment as they are three points clear of Tottenham and eight points clear of Chelsea and Newcastle and it could come down between the two North London clubs for third and fourth place, which if you think about it a month ago everybody had written Arsenal of finishing in the top for completely and now they are in prime position to finish third. There is no doubt that the two biggest battles they face are Manchester City and Chelsea. In the form they are in at the moment you would expect them to win the other games, but if they lose to City and Tottenham win they will need to win all their remaining games and rely on goal difference, which at the moment is in favour of the red side of North London.
Chelsea travel to Villa Park next and then have back to back derbies. Well actually depending on the Champions League they could be faced with a Quadruple of derbies back to back as they face Fulham at Craven Cottage and then Tottenham in the FA Cup Semi-Final and then travel to the Emirates to face Arsenal and then finally face QPR finally in a home game at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea also have to entertain Newcastle at Stamford Bridge and Travel to Anfield when they face Liverpool.
For Chelsea and Tottenham the FA Cup Semi-Final could well be a unwanted distraction, unless of course one of them win it, and for Chelsea the Champions League matches are only going to stretch an already stretched squad, and let’s be honest we all know they are not going to be beating Real Madrid, Barcelona or Bayern Munich.
The run in
|Norwich||Aston Villa||Liverpool||Manchester City|
I see Arsenal finishing third and Tottenham fourth, but it will be close, excruciatingly close, with only goal difference separating the two clubs. Chelsea seem to be on a bit of a resurgence, now that the player actually want to play for a manager, but the added games could cause them to trip up but for the strength and depth compared to Newcastle I predict that they will finish fifth and Newcastle sixth, but again it will be close with possibly goal difference separating them, which in the end, will still be a great achievement for Newcastle as they would have never believed that at the beginning of the season!
So let’s wait and see how right or wrong I will be – enjoy, I know I will