14 April 2013

4th place outright. 3rd in reach. 2nd?

Just about the only thing that went wrong for us in this past week was to see Spurs get dumped out of the Europa League. That it happened in part because of an Adebayor PK miss offers some small consolation, though. As it now stands, we are now in 4th place outright, one point ahead of Spurs with six each to play, and we currently sit in 3rd place, one point ahead of Chelsea although they have a game in hand now. With Chelsea and Spurs set to face each other at some point (they were to play this weekend only to have the match postponed due to their Thursday Europa matches), one or both is sure
to drop points in that match, and we can now lay claim to being the hottest team in the Prem. 4th is in our hands, and I don't see Spurs wresting it back. 3rd is ours but more precariously as Chelsea has that game in hand. What seemed unthinkable a month ago is, if I may be so bold, within reach. Could we finish in 2nd place? Can we overtake Man City while holding off Chelsea and Spurs? A boy can dream. That's all I'm saying.

It's just crazy enough to work. Spurs now join us in having no outside distractions but now trail us. Man City continues to make progress in the FA Cup and will face Wigan in the final (date TBD). While this is not a tremendous distraction, it might be enough to trip them just a bit. Elsewhere, Chelsea trudges on through the Europa League. They've drawn FC Basel and will visit on Thursday,  April 25th and host on Thursday, May 2nd, which will surely cause further postponements to their Prem schedule and keep their match with Spurs in limbo. Everton continues its march. It would be just delicious to see them bump Spurs.

It's far-fetched to suggest we can overtake Man City, I know, but it's a far cry from where we were just a few weeks ago. In March, we were despondent and wondering if we'd fall out of the top four and what this would mean for transfers, for holding on to key players, for Wenger's tenure and legacy....Now, emboldened by our recent run, we can beat our chests a bit and try to rattle those above us with more authority. We must keep an eye on Spurs, though. Now that they can concentrate on the Prem, they're still a threat to be aware of. If we take care of our business, though, there's nothing they can do to stop us. Overtaking Chelsea, not to mention Man City, will depend on them stumbling. Therefore, I'm boldly taking the plunge: I'm adding City to the chart.

Unfortunately, they seem to have the clearest path ahead of them, with only a visit to White Hart Lane to bother them unduly. They'll face a few teams desperate to avoid relegationNorwich, Reading, Wiganbut would have to stumble at least twice as they sit six points ahead of us and currently have a goal-differential one better than ours. They have three games on the road, including one at the Madejski, where Reading has claimed more than a few top-six scalps. Only us and Man U have come away with all three points. It's far-fetched, but stranger things have happened. All the same, we faced similar odds when it came to overtaking Spurs, and here we are.

We've seen how how a cluttered schedule wore down Spurs, and it's sure to take a similar toll on Chelsea, as deep as they may be compared to Spurs, as their matches with FC Basel disrupt them. Their matches with Swansea and Man U will most likely have to make way, and should Chelsea advance further, it's hard to see where to find room for more matches in their schedule. They now have three Prem games to reschedule, including the one with Spurs that was originally set to happen this weekend.

If we can come through on Tuesday, all bets are off as far as 4th place is concerned. We'll go into the weekend on such a run that Spurs will have little left that they can do, and we'll send notice to Chelsea, if not Man City, that they'd better win out if they expect to stay ahead of us. Nothing has been set in stone, very little is even penciled in, but it's an exciting, optimistic time. Come on, you Gunners!