By Bulldog Drummond
And this is it for another season, except for that little issue lurking a few weeks away of the 7th European final in the history of the club (I’m not counting the super cup) to be played in front of 6000 Arsenal fans in the furthest reaches of Europe with no direct plane connection. Or Colchester as one of my pals put it. Two wins, four times beaten finalists – time for another victory I feel.
But for now we must consider the mighty Burnley and here our away form doesn’t get any better each time we look at it…
Away from home we have won six, drawn four, lost eight. Slightly better than last season, but not that much. The chance of going into the Champs League from our current position is still there, but is so tiny, one might be better off betting on the chances of an asteroid hitting the earth before tea-time.
As for Burnley at home they are in the bottom part of that table – but they have won one more game at home than we have away, and collected one more point. Their home goal difference is the same as our away GD – so it looks fairly even.
|15||Brighton and Hove Albion||18||6||5||7||18||24||-6||23|
Their home run since February shows defeats to Palace, Leicester and Manchester City, with home wins against Wolverhampton and Cardiff.
|02 Mar 2019||Burnley v Crystal Palace||L||1-3||Premier League|
|16 Mar 2019||Burnley v Leicester City||L||1-2||Premier League|
|30 Mar 2019||Burnley v Wolverhampton Wanderers||W||2-0||Premier League|
|13 Apr 2019||Burnley v Cardiff City||W||2-0||Premier League|
|28 Apr 2019||Burnley v Manchester City||L||0-1||Premier League|
Our away games over the same period reveal three wins and three defeats, two of the wins being in the Europa League. The only league win in this period away from home was that slightly odd one against Watford.
|07 Apr 2019||Everton v Arsenal||L||1-0||Premier League|
|15 Apr 2019||Watford v Arsenal||W||0-1||Premier League|
|18 Apr 2019||Napoli v Arsenal||W||0-1||Europa League|
|24 Apr 2019||Wolverhampton Wanderers v Arsenal||L||3-1||Premier League|
|28 Apr 2019||Leicester City v Arsenal||L||3-0||Premier League|
|09 May 2019||Valencia v Arsenal||W||2-4||Europa League|
So Arsenal could win because they are elevated by the feeling of having won in Valencia. Yes we can do this, the lads are saying, and they sweep all aside.
Or Arsenal could lose because one sliding tackle from a thug player could end their season and remove the player from the squad for the final. Besides who cares about the result?
Arsenal are going to end up fifth or sixth, neither of which particularly matters… except…
Now I am not going to be definitive on what happens after this, because I have read all sorts of contradictory statements, but I think this is right as it is based on the Uefa web site – if you want to contradict please do, but please do say where your information is coming from.
The Europa entry from England is made up of the teams that finish 5th, 6th and the FA Cup winners.
That will be Arsenal and Manchester United plus the Cup winner, but if Manchester City win the FA Cup, then Wolverhampton Wanders who are seventh in the Premier League will go into the Europa League second qualifying round, not Watford as runners’ up. (And incidentally Burnley’s fall from grace in terms of their league position last season to this, came about primarily because of their need to play European qualifiers in July).
But if Watford win the FA Cup by beating Manchester City, then Watford go straight into the group stages – and sixth place in the Premier League goes into the qualifiers instead with the seventh placed team not qualifying.
And the key point in all this is that those qualifiers will be on 25 July and 1 August.
Now that in turn would mean a clash with Arsenal’s pre-season tourney. So that could mean either the pre-season series will be cancelled (probably meaning a big fine imposed by the organisers) or a mix of first team, reserve and youth players will divert to fly across the world to play in the qualifier. Which means they have to be fitter than they would if just playing half a friendly.
So suddenly fifth place looks rather important, just in case Man City do cock up the FA Cup final, and that means for Arsenal a win against Burnley. Nothing else will guarantee that place.
In the next post I’ll look at the teams, past games between the two, and the history of coming below the tiny totts.