Eight games remaining and Arsenal are the favourites to finish third
At Wembley Arsenal were unlucky. They had dropped two extremely valuable points against a Tottenham side that looked to have lost the motivation. Five days later, at Roazhon Park, Arsenal were dominantly outclassed by Rennes. They had been humiliated by the French side who made the most of their numerical advantage.
However, an unprecedented win over Manchester United in the Premier League and a 3-0 thrashing of Rennes at the Emirates stadium to overturn a two-goal deficit have put Arsenal back in the driver’s seat. They are just one point behind third-placed Tottenham Hotspur and two points ahead of fifth-placed Manchester United.
The gripping race for the title has become a two-way battle between Manchester City and Liverpool. City, currently second in the points table with a game in hand, look to defend the crown they won last year. Liverpool, who had a seven-point cushion over City at the beginning of 2019, now have to wait and hope for City to tumble down.
Beneath the top-two, four teams are vying hard for the remaining two slots in the top-four. It has already become a riveting race, more tightly contested than the one for the crown. The difference in points between Spurs and Chelsea is just four. Everyone has the chance to qualify for the Champions League, everyone also faces the threat of not qualifying.
Tottenham’s recent slump in form has open new doors. Until recently Tottenham had a clear advantage over the fourth-placed team. But they could only garner a point out of the maximum 12 in their previous four matches, cutting the gap.
Arsenal have comparatively easy fixtures
The three London clubs and the red side of Manchester have all played 30 matches and each have eight games in hand, to decide their own fate. Nevertheless, The Gunners have completed their games against sides in the top-six of the league. While Chelsea, Tottenham and United are scheduled with stern tests in the months ahead.
Luckily for Arsenal, the teams they face have failed to beat them in their previous Premier League fixture. Only Wolves, Crystal Palace and Brighton have managed to hold Arsenal from winning. The other sides endured defeats when they faced Emery’s side this season.
Although the remainder of the games are winnable, Arsenal will pay the price if they are not cautious enough. The fixtures against Wolves, Leicester and Everton must be carefully handled. Wolves have been a nightmare to those in the top-six. They have taken points from all clubs other than Liverpool in the top-six. Meanwhile, Wolves eliminated Liverpool from the FA Cup.
Everton have taken points from Liverpool in the league and defeated Chelsea in the previous fixture. The Toffees are capable of taking points off from Arsenal and Emery must do whatever it takes to prevent that from happening. Ex-Champions Leicester can also punish the North Londoners as they did against Chelsea and City in the league.
High-profile fixtures await Kane and co
When action resumes after the international break, Spurs first play Liverpool on 31 March. With the Scousers given no option but to win everything and hope for City to fall, they will be attacking and it will indeed be difficult and they will be extremely ambitious of a victory. Looking at Spurs’ recent form it seems likely that they will give way to Arsenal in third.
Tottenham face a mammoth task of playing Manchester City three times in ten days. Pochettino’s side face the defending Premier League champions in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League while also facing them at Etihad in the Premier League. Three high-profile games with high stakes could leave Tottenham exhausted. Although the remaining fixtures are comparatively easier, the outcome of these two big fixtures – against City and Liverpool – could perhaps decide Spurs’ season.
Time for United or Chelsea?
Manchester United had been undefeated in the Premier League since Solskjaer arrived. They had been high on confidence after completing an incredible comeback in Paris. However, the initial momentum has gone as Arsenal handed United their first defeat in the Premier League under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. United were also dumped out of the FA Cup by Wolves this week.
Two defeats in their previous two matches for United, they find themselves under immense pressure. Solskjaer will now need to prove his tactical proficiency in the upcoming games.
However, United have a tough fixture list. In the Champions League, they face FC Barcelona in the quarter-finals. Out of their remaining eight games, one is against Manchester City and another game versus Chelsea. Both of these are crucial for United. If they fail to live up to the expectations it may pull them out of the top-four.
As aforementioned, Chelsea lost to Everton in the Premier League and missed a chance to improve their place in the points table. A victory would have taken the Blues to fifth, leapfrogging Manchester United. They are now sixth and four points behind third-placed Tottenham and three behind fourth-placed Arsenal.
With the race for the top-four intense, Chelsea will have to ensure they collect maximum points from their remaining eight matches. However, Sarri’s side has remaining clashes with Manchester United and Liverpool and overcoming that is a big challenge for the West London outfit.
Arsenal have easier fixtures when compared with the rest of the pack. All they need to do is deliver results without fail. Taking into consideration Tottenham’s current form, they seem most likely to drop points and places. Meanwhile, Manchester United face the task of recovering after two consecutive shock defeats. Meanwhile, Chelsea are already four points behind and have matches against United and Liverpool upcoming.
The side that resists the pressure and performs the best will finish third. This plot may still have more unexpected twists and turns. The storyline may completely change. But for now, lets enjoy the remainder of the season from the edges of our seats.