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Tottenham could decide the Championship

Tottenham could decide the Championship

Paul Collins

The final weeks of the 2009/10 season are shaping up to be fascinating. When was the last time we had 3 teams in serious contention for the Championship at this late a stage in the season AND at the same time saw the battle for 4th, and the final Champions League spot, as congested and wide open as it presently is? And in the middle of it all is Arsenal, much to the disappointment of many in the media.

After losing to Chelsea on 7 February, the media were lightning-quick to write off our chances. I never thought that to be the case. I personally thought that if we could come out of our nightmare run of matches (Villa, Man Utd, Chelsea, Liverpool) within 6 points of the lead we might even be favorites for the Championship.

Instead we were 9 points behind, a big gap but by no means insurmountable given our run-in. However, even I have been staggered at how quickly the gap has been narrowed again, and in some ways we might indeed have to be considered favorites at this point (although I HATE saying that!!).

If we had a fully fit squad I wouldn’t hesitate to call us favorites. Another assumption made after the Chelsea match was that we would have to win the remainder of our games to be Champions. I didn’t think that was the case then and I certainly don’t think that is the case now. Points will be dropped by everyone. How many points each team will drop is the real question.

The game most people are looking at to “decide” the Championship is Chelsea-Man Utd on 3rd April. Sky will certainly build that one up to be a “Championship Decider” as they do. Yeah, yeah, we’ve heard it all before. Let’s assume a draw in that one. If that’s the case then it effectively brings us even with the teams above us. I don’t think Chelsea will win that one, so the only other result I can see is a Utd win, and if that is the case I don’t think Chelsea will last the pace (that is just a feeling I have, there is no rational reason why!). My prediction is a draw however. So what of the other fixtures remaining for each team?

We’ve examined Arsenal’s fixtures in great detail. Most of us would agree that all of our home matches should be wins, with the only tough one being Manchester City’s visit towards the end of the season. A lot will depend on how they are doing in the League at that point. Will that game be essential for them finishing 4th or not? Our away matches are a mixed bag, with Hull, Birmingham, Tottenham, Wigan, and Blackburn presenting us with a selection of potential banana skins. The Spurs match is the one that stands out however.

Chelsea’s matches are just as interesting. Their only tough home match remaining is the visit of Aston Villa. However Chelsea still have trips to Old Trafford (where we already assumed a draw), Anfield, and White Hart Lane to come (as well as Blackburn and Portsmouth – ho hum, six points there).

Manchester United have a very interesting run-in as well. They have Spurs, Liverpool, Fulham (a bogey team), and Chelsea to come at home and still have a trip to Manchester City (as well as Sunderland, Blackburn, Bolton and Wolves away – more of those potential banana skins I’d say).

The presence of Tottenham on each schedule, in 3 consecutive weeks in April, is the most interesting part of the run-in as far as I am concerned. We get them first, then Chelsea and finally Manchester United. I’d give the advantage to Manchester United in that case, because when we play them they’ll still be fighting for 4th place, something they may no longer be doing two weeks later. But it could also work the other way as well. Tottenham have Manchester City for their final match of the season, so they will know that even with a poor result or two, they can still make up for it with a strong finish to the season (just as we followed losses to Utd and Chelsea with a win against Liverpool, salvaging that run of games).

One way or another, the 3 weekends from 10 April to 25 April look like they could go a long way towards deciding the Championship. Tottenham may not qualify for the Champions League, but they might just decide the Championship! How scary is that thought???

———————————–

ARSENAL IN THE FUTURE

————————————————–

ARSENAL IN THE PAST…

  • The days when football journalists could write, entertain and make us laugh (a true newspaper report about Arsenal in the 1930s)
  • “Making the Arsenal” – the novel.  The most extraordinary book about Arsenal ever.  And that’s unofficial.  Available from Amazon.co.uk and from the publishers direct.
  • Charlie Buchan’s first appearance for Arsenal.

Want to write for Untold Arsenal and be read by lots of people?  Send your article to me at Tony@hamilton-house.com

Tony Attwood

12 comments to Tottenham could decide the Championship

  • Rhys Jaggar

    I remain low key for the next four games.

    We know we can win at Hull. We won there last year and are better this year. The win there was like this year’s Stoke win – two late goals. They will not be feeling good now so Arsenal must expect a backlash. Arsenal can win. They will not be playing the following mid-week, so they must be 100% up for it. No holding back.

    WWFC will be scrapping for their life. They nearly beat MUFC, so they are no mugs. It’s not a gimme. I’d like them to stay up, but not at the expense of us winning the League….

    Birmingham away is the next big test. It’s as hard as Stoke, if not harder. A mean defence and some good goal poachers. And Joe Hart in goal. And the memory of Eduardo. That is a really crucial one for mental preparation. A win there would be a huge step psychologically.

    And West Ham the game afterwards is a team Arsenal often don’t put away. They will be fighting like mad. Arsenal must be brutally ruthless.

    End of March is the next point to look at it. Until then, pedal to the floor, one match at a time. And look to get 12 points from 4 games.

  • Paul C.

    Rhys – I would actually be quite happy for us to get 10 points from the 4 games you mention. We cannot expect to win every game and if we finish our last 9 games with, let’s say, 7 wins and 2 draws and STILL dont win the League, then kudos to whoever does and good for them. If we win our last 9, not only do I think we will win the League, we will win it EASILY. If we win 8 of our last 9 I think we’ll win it easily. You have to expect that both Chelsea and Utd will drop points in a game no one expects them to, and that will just intensify the pressure for the games against other big clubs, and each other.

    As you say, Hull next. That is the most important game of the season right now, without any question. Until the next one. My god, I hate challenging for the Championship. It destroys your nerves.

  • c.u.r.s.e

    you know what. just flicked on sky sports and saw the fixtures for april and thought that. now ive come on ere and your confirming those thoughts!. dam those tott’s! first things first tho. lets show the Portuguese how we do. surely the team wanna prove to the world they can win an important game without a fab cameo? i know they can so im predicting 3-0 to us. bendtner wil wanna prove it was just an off day and how many cl matches has andy played?really im askin, cos to my knowledge it aint that much so im guessing he’l wanna put on a show. after that nasri assist i was convinced he’l b a legend, he had a look around for half a mili-sec and got down to genius mode! i still think their telepathic. more o the same plz sam, cheers. i hate sayin this but… i prefer eboue to sagna for the time being. jus hope he keeps it up now and doesnt leave. god bless the arsenal.

  • walter

    Paul C, I agree with you that Tottenham could be the decisive factor. I even said at the beginning of the season that we would win the league at white hart lane. I know early april is to soon to win the league this season but if they go to the semi final of the FA cup our game will be postponed to later… and it could be that we play them right before the last game(s)… and clinch the title over there.
    And deep down me I a convinced that if RVP would have stayed fit (those damned international games) we would be leading the league with a few points by now.

  • jbh

    Question for Walter. Ref for Porto game Tuesday is:
    Frank De Bleeckere (BEL)
    With linesmen: Peter Hermans (BEL), Walter Vromans (BEL) 4th Official: Serge Gumienny (BEL)

    Your views on them, and ref in particular?

  • jbh

    UEFA details about the Ref:
    • Frank De Bleeckere is carrying on a family tradition which has endured for more than four decades. De Bleeckere’s grandfather was a referee in Belgium in the 1950s and 1960s, and his father René a top-flight match official 20 years ago.
    • A PR manager born in Oudenaarde, De Bleeckere started refereeing in 1984, oversaw his first top-flight match in 1995 and received his FIFA badge in 1998. The same year he officiated at the UEFA European Under-16 Championship, and quickly graduated to UEFA Champions League and UEFA Cup duties.
    • He sandwiched UEFA EURO 2004TM, where he was one of four specialist fourth officials, with appearances at the 2003 FIFA U-20 World Cup and 2005 FIFA U-17 World Cup, where he refereed the final between Mexico and Brazil. De Bleeckere had earlier overseen a showpiece closer to home, the 2005 Belgian Cup final between Club Brugge KV and KFC Germinal Beerschot Antwerpen.
    • At the 2006 FIFA World Cup De Bleeckere took charge of four matches and he was also the referee for three games at UEFA EURO 2008TM.
    • Has continued to be a regular in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Cup, where he oversaw the 2007/08 semi-final second leg between ACF Fiorentina and Rangers FC. Also took charge of FC Barcelona’s 1-0 extra-time win against FC Shakhtar Donetsk in the 2009 UEFA Super Cup.

  • Gf60

    We can but hope that the spuds win their replay against Fulham. That will postpone our game to ??? Could it possibly be the last game of the season and we need 3 points for the championship? Now there’s a delicious thought.

  • Last night on Radio 5, the commentator said that Liverpool were trying to make up ground on “Chelsea and Manchester United.”

    So that’s it then. We’re out of it.

  • walter

    Funny you aks jbh. I had send a mail on him to Tony.
    So I give you some of my thoughts.

    De Bleeckere is considered the best ref in Belgium for many years now. He will be at the world cup in the summer and is being tipped as one of the candidates to maybe do the final. As Belgium has not qualified for the tournament he has no problems that could come in the way of other top refs from Italy, Spain or so.

    Some of his collegues consider would say that you’ll have to widen the door to let his head through when he comes to the Emirates. But I must say that I never met him so it could be that this description is based on jealousy.

    Like JBH mentionned he is the son of his father who also was the son of his father – we mostly are – but it is frighting to see how many son – father relations there are in the Belgium refereeing world. A bit to much to my liking if you ask me. It could give the impression that if you have the right father you can make it as a ref in Belgium, if you are good or not.

    De Bleeckere is hated in Madrid as he had some ..er.. games that could be described as not so good. Last year he gave Liverpool a little helping hand against Real Madrid and this year he had another poor game in Madrid. He is persona non grata over there.

    He seems to like English football and Liverpool in particular, one could say.

    My main concern is the fact that he really is aiming for the WC final in South Africa and …. will he do anything to obtain this….. ?

  • walter

    I love the way they write us out of the title race, Tony.
    A funny way of making up ground by the way by losing to Wigan. 😉
    But that is good news as they now will have to try even harder to beat MU and Chelsea for us.

  • Collin .j

    the run in for the EPL Chamionship,as an Arsenal fan i hope Tottenham beat Fulham to reach the semi finals of the F.A cup,which means they will played two physically draining extras game against i.e the London derby against Fulham and against the unpredictable Pompey on that april weekend meaning there game with Arsenal will have to be postponed,Harry Rednapp will be forced to field his strong team in both these games without doubt in the replay and the semi finals and i feel Arsenal will fancy there chances against a tired Tottenham team a few days after,ie if the match vs Spurs is postponed a few days later!!!.On the other hand if Arsenal face Spurs in the postponed match after the matches with Chelsea and Man U,this will even favour the Gunners more against a tired Tottenham because they will be hoping for that 4th finish as u said.
    Another tricky match is against Manchester City but Arsenal will play them after that Physically draining Manchester Derby!!!,i fancy our chances there too considering that we are also at home with Gallas, and Van Persie back!!!
    Looking at Birmingham,we shall be playing them after there physical match against Blackburn 3 days before,hope fatigue in the Brum squad kicks in and Fabregas is back and Sol Campbel is fit to watch Jerome!!!
    The trickiest of all these fixtures i think will be that trip away to Blackburn,my only hope is that we have our strongest squad with the spine of Gallas,Fabregas and Van Persie all fit,and with our defence midfield all fit in the likes of Diaby and Song.We shall need our wingers Arshavin,Walcott all on form to win this one because i know there is no love lost between San Alladyce and Arsene Wenger and the former will very much want to do his pal Fergerson afavour and spoil the party !!!!!!
    Liverpool will have a big say in the title by taking off points from Chelsea and Man U,thats my view!!!!

  • Martin O’Neil has a lot of sorting out to do before the semi-final in two weeks.