It’s squeaky-bum time! by Dan Smith
The best prices on “Finishing in the Top Four”
Tottenham – 4/6
Arsenal – 5/6
Chelsea – 6/5
Man United – 6/4
It’s been a long time since the Gunners have been one of the favourites to finish in the top 4. After beating Man United though, now if you put 10 pounds on us to finish 3rd of 4th you only win 8.33.
Expect odds to change weekly….
Here I try to give an unbiased view of everyone’s chances:
Spurs – Fixtures – Liverpool (a), Brighton (H), Huddersfield (H), Man City (a), West Ham (H), Bournemouth (a), Everton (H)
Forget their fixtures, momentum is so crucial in sport. Within 16 days, Spurs went from title contenders (at least in their own minds) to looking over their shoulders. Unlike the other 3 clubs in this discussion who have prepared for the possibility of Europa League Football, it would represent a massive collapse for our rivals. Suddenly instead of choosing between Real and United, Poch will be defending his reputation. If they couldn’t handle the pressure of being in a title race (again in their own imagination) do they have the mental strength to play when they have everything to lose and nothing to gain? There’s talk that they will play their remaining home games at their new stadium (which I’m not sure is fair) but how much of an advantage is that? We know when moving into the Emirates, it takes a while to make it your home. Imagine the embarrassment for Daniel Levy. He moves into his new home, which is meant to represent a new future, and it starts by being knocked out of the top 4. I don’t understand why they are favourites?
Arsenal – Newcastle (H), Everton (a), Watford (a), Palace (H), Leicester (a), Brighton (H), Burnley (a), Wolves (a – TBA)
The perception seems to be we have the kindest set of fixtures. Unai Emery’s task is to ensure his players don’t think that way. Too many times this group have been guilty of not showing up away from home and paying for complacency, we saw that last Thursday in France. When you think of our 5 wins on our travels, 3 are in the bottom 3, the other 2 were Newcastle and Bournemouth. So, to suddenly expect us to win our 5 remains away matches, when we done that all campaign, is asking a lot. Think of our matches at West Ham, Southampton, Palace, Brighton, etc. Would losing at Wolves, Everton, Watford, Burnley or Leicester be a shock? My hope is with so much is at stake, there would be no reason to not be 100 percent focused.
Chelsea – Everton (a), Cardiff (a), West Ham (H), Liverpool (a), Burnley (H), Man United (a), Watford (H), Leicester (a), Brighton (H- TBC)
Despite all the talk of a crisis at the Bridge, if they win their game in hand, they are level on points with us, in fact having responded well to their 6-0 defeat at Man City. It might suit the Blues that the talk is not on them. I still think they have the League’s best talent (not based on form) in Hazard, who is capable of providing the magic to carry them over the line. The doubt you have is can Sarri motivate his players the moment things go wrong? How much will their star player care about Champions League qualification if he knows he’s going to Spain in the summer? Therefore, it’s crucial that by the time they go to Anfield and Old Trafford they are not too far off the pace, if they are, they might just focus on the Europa League.
Man United – Watford H, Wolves (a), West Ham (H), Everton (a), Man City (H), Chelsea (H) Huddersfield (a), Cardiff (H)
No need for United to panic just because they lost to Arsenal. Unlike Spurs, they have momentum, having been 11 points off 4th when changing managers. The double header with City and Chelsea could prove critical. Based on their progress in FA Cup and Champions League, they could get to April with a big game every few days.
Gooners, who will finish 3rd and 4th?