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The Title Race: Can We Win It? (Complete with all the number crunching…)

A disappointing (though not unpredictable) draw to Birmingham has left Arsenal in a vulnerable position in the Title race.
So, are we still in with a chance?

Although there is definite cause for concern, the time for doom saying hasn’t yet arrived; it’s important for everybody to stay positive but realistic as we look to the remaining fixtures in the season. Firstly, the sad thing is we’re no longer masters of our own destiny. However, there is still a decent amount of football to be played, and a few key opportunities for points to be dropped by all of the top three.

So do we still have a realistic shot? Yes, but it’s an outside bet. I’ve looked ahead across the entire top three’s remaining fixtures and highlight the possible pitfalls for them and us. With the table as it stands, the title is still winnable, ASSUMING we can avoid dropping points.

The Title Race (as it stands)

__________________Played__Pts
1st – Manchester United:    (32)      (72)
2nd –                    Chelsea:    (32)      (71)
3rd –                     Arsenal:    (32)      (68)

With six games left, there are still around 3 games per team where, REALISTICALLY, points can be dropped. I know many will say that, on the day, anything can happen in any game in the Premier League, and whilst this evidently is proved true sometimes, I’ve picked the games which I deemed plausibly may result in a draw or a loss.

Sat 3rd April

Manchester United v Chelsea

Sunday 11th April

Blackburn v Manchester United

Wed 14th April

Tottenham v Arsenal

Sunday 17th April

Manchester City v Manchester United
Tottenham v Chelsea

Sat 24th April

Arsenal v Manchester City

Sat 1st May

Blackburn v Arsenal
Liverpool v Chelsea

Plausible Points Dropped Per Team:

Manchester United: 0-7
(Manchester United v Chelsea, Blackburn v Manchester United, Manchester City v Manchester United)
Realistically, we could hope for a draw/loss to Chelsea at home, a draw with Blackburn away, a loss to Manchester City away.

Chelsea: 0-5
(Manchester United v Chelsea, Tottenham v Chelsea, Liverpool v Chelsea)
Realistically, this would entail a possible loss to United away, a draw to Tottenham away, and a draw with Liverpool away. However, it is plausible that Chelsea could lose its games against Tottenham and Liverpool.

Arsenal: 0-7
(Tottenham v Arsenal, Arsenal v Manchester City, Blackburn v Arsenal)
This would entail a possible loss to Tottenham, loss to Manchester City, and draw with Blackburn. These are the crunch games, and if we avoid dropping points in these three, we still have a chance.

Game by Game:

The Manchester United vs. Chelsea game is critical, and with both teams in great form, they will hopefully cancel each other out. A draw from this game (with us presumably beating Wolverhampton at the Emirates) would leave the table looking a LOT more positive:

__________________Played__Pts
1st – Manchester United:    (33)      (73)
2nd –                    Chelsea:    (33)      (72)
3rd –                     Arsenal:    (33)      (71)

A draw really is the only positive outcome of this, we can’t afford either side to take all three points.

The next game round is also important, and involves the critical fixtures of Blackburn Rovers vs. Manchester United, and of course the London derby of Tottenham Hotspur vs. Arsenal. Blackburn is very formidable at home, and we could hope for a draw from this match if the fates are in favour of us. IF we win over Tottenham, the table would stand as (assuming Chelsea topple Bolton at The Bridge):

__________________Played__Pts
1st –                      Chelsea:    (34)      (75)
2nd –                    Arsenal:    (34)      (74)
3rd -Manchester United:    (34)      (74)

The following week plays host to two more important fixtures. Manchester City vs. Manchester United, based on recent meetings between these teams (and considering City’s destruction of Chelsea), has the potential to be another fly in United’s ointment. Also, Tottenham Hotspur vs. Chelsea could prove troublesome for the Blues. Arsenal are in action away at Wigan , which shouldn’t prove too much of a problem. here is how the table would look, assuming that United DREW with City, Chelsea DREW with Tottenham, and presuming Arsenal beat Wigan.

__________________Played__Pts
1st –                      Arsenal:    (35)      (77)
2nd –                    Chelsea:    (35)      (76)
3rd -Manchester United:    (35)      (75)

Not looking to bad, is it? However, it’s smooth sailing from here on in for United, so we have to hope they drop all these possible points (or more!) before this point.

Next round features the crunch game of Arsenal vs. Manchester City. Now, this is an entirely winnable game, as it is at home, although it is definitely one of our tougher matches over the next 6. Also, there COULD be problems at Old Trafford with Tottenham coming to town, so we could hope they might snatch a point. however, let’s assume that all top 3 teams won their games this week; Chelsea vs. Stoke, Arsenal vs. City and United vs. Tottenham.

__________________Played__Pts
1st –                      Arsenal:    (36)      (80)
2nd –                    Chelsea:    (36)      (79)
3rd -Manchester United:    (36)      (78)

Bear in mind the possibility of a United draw, though it’s unlikely. We will have to play well against City, too.

The next crucial matches feature what could be a difficult game for Arsenal away to Blackburn, and a possibly upsetting encounter for Chelsea at Anfield. Going on the assumption that Arsenal WINS all their games, we are in good shape if we overcome Blackburn at Ewood park. Liverpool generally turns up for the big games, so we could possibly hope for them to grab a draw if they play with fire and pride. With Torres, anything can happen. Let’s assume Chelsea draw, we beat Blackburn, and Manchester United beat Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.

__________________Played__Pts
1st –                       Arsenal:    (37)      (83)
2nd – Manchester United:    (37)      (81)
3rd –                      Chelsea:    (37)      (80) /82 if they beat Liverpool

And so end the possible ‘slip-up’ games for the Top 3. As you can see, I’ve based these calculations on the grand assumption that ARSENAL WIN EVERY GAME from here on in. So really, our fate, primarily, lies in our hands, and we will have to be a lot more focused than we were at Birmingham. Just focus on getting our job done, and then we can hope for these favourable results. Note also, not all of the games that COULD cause losses have been predicted as losses; I’ve been pragmatic and assumed, for example, the Liverpool might grab a point, when it is possible they could beat Chelsea.

So have a read over, Gooners’ and stay positive. The season certainly isn’t over yet. If we play well and win all our games from here on in, than we are in with an EXCELLENT chance. We’ve got our slip up out of our system, and we have the easiest run in, so let’s go for it.

Join the discussion on the Arsenal Action Forum,

Curt.B

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