I haven’t blogged since Chelsea hammered us because I’m now firmly shrouded in apathy about our prospects under Wenger. To see the same old failings and mistakes repeated week after week, season after season and manifest themselves in yet another campaign where we find ourselves fighting for fourth place has drained away much of my enthusiasm.
So I’m allowing a regular reader with a more ‘optimistic’ outlook to make a guest post. Personally, now that the business end of the season has come around I think we’re seeing Groundhog Day and will do every season until Wenger goes as the once-great one has no idea how to take us to the next level. John from London retains some hope however — see what you think…
Things have turned quite sour for Arsenal supporters over the past month or two. First the club began to lose its grip on Premier League contention, and with the injury to Jack Wilshere and unsurprising elimination from the Champions League at the hands of the mighty Bayern Munich, everything seemed to go from bad to worse. But in this post I’m going to take a break from all the cynicism surrounding the club and ask the bold, excessively optimistic question: do the Gunners still have an outside chance at the Premier League title?
The correct answer, mathematically speaking at least, remains ‘yes’, but the sensible answer is without a doubt a resounding ‘no’. Pre-season favourites Chelsea and Manchester City simply appear stronger at the moment, and Liverpool has been scorching hot for two solid months now. But again, for the sake of some much-needed optimism, let’s look at how we could get back in the mix.
It begins with the standings, which as posted at the outset of April at the Premierleague.com show Arsenal rounding out the top four with 64 points after 32 matches. That’s seven points back from Liverpool, five from Chelsea, and perhaps most ominously, three behind a Man City club that has played two fewer matches than the other contenders to date. Naturally, asking Arsenal to make up this many points on this many teams with only six matches left to play is nearly unreasonable, and the odds are stacked against the Gunners quite heavily.
How heavily, exactly? That depends where you look, really, as sporting odds vary from site to site and from day to day. But for the best predictions and set expectations out there, I turned to Coral Sports, listed by reference site Gambling.com as one of the top sports betting platforms online, and found a fairly dire outlook for Arsenal. Specifically, the club’s shot at an outright title is currently slated at 150/1, well behind Chelsea, whose 7/1 odds are good for third best. Meanwhile, Arsenal are given 2/7 odds to finish in the top four, which is the highest confidence for any team currently outside of the top three. This seems to indicate that the oddsmakers are quite confident Arsenal will finish right in its current fourth place position.
But it’s when you look at the remaining fixtures that there seems to be some semblance of a silver lining for Arsenal supporters. Here’s a look at Arsenal’s remaining matches as listed at the Premier League website referenced previously:
- April 6 – v. Everton at Goodison Park
- April 15 – v. West Ham at Emirates Stadium
- April 19 – v. Hull City at KC Stadium
- April 28 – v. Newcastle United at Emirates Stadium
- May 3 – v. West Brom at Emirates Stadium
- May 11 – v. Norwich City at Carrow Road
That first match at Everton is no walk in the park, but all in all it’s a very favourable home stretch in which Arsenal has at least an outside shot at winning each match. Truthfully, winning six in a row to finish the season is a tall order, but this is a considerably lighter schedule than we have dealt with in the past month, so the brilliant play from earlier in the year could conceivably return. Meanwhile, the other teams at the top of the table all have notably more difficult finishes, with league leader Liverpool still facing both Chelsea and Man City in its final six! All it would take is a strong finish from Arsenal and a few slip-ups elsewhere for the Gunners to be back in the conversation.
At the end of the day, the real optimism would be in hoping for any strong finish, and perhaps a spot in the top three. This would salvage what has become a frustrating season for Arsenal, and end things on a high note and a strong setup for the 2014-15 Premier League. A comeback all the way to the top of the table would be a major story indeed, but a spot in the top three is a very realistic hope.