A mixed weekend for Arsenal. We had to fight through a lacklustre game for a point against Chelsea, Newcastle beat Stoke easily and Tottenham blew another three points. Here’s where it leaves us in the run-in -
Because Newcastle and Chelsea still have to play each other, the cannot, of course, both reach the maximum shown above. We’ve played a game more and all our rivals can, mathematically, catch us. Chelsea could win the Champions League and take the fourth English slot even if they finish fifth or sixth.
So (fx David Coleman voice) what happens next?
Scenario 1 – Stay in complete control
If we win all our games, we finish third, unless Newcastle win all of their’s and more than double their goal difference. Our is 24, their’s 11. If we do win all our games, ours will be at least 27. So Newcastle would need to win all their games by a total of 17 goals – over four per game. So if we win all our games we are, barring a Geordie miracle, third.
Scenario 2 – Drop two points
Draw one of our games and our maximum haul becomes 72. Newcastle could get 74 and go third. But the maximum haul now for Spurs and Chelsea is 71 and 70, so drop just two points and we can’t do worse than fourth. But that would mean a qualifying round for the Champions League, or Europa League if Chelsea were this year’s European Champions. That’s how tight it is!
Scenario 3 – Drop three points
Lose a game and our maximum haul of 71 can be matched by Spurs. It would mean a reversal of their current run of form and it would only put them level on points. But in this scenario we could have similar goal difference totals too. We have 24 and they have 18. Four wins would put them on at least 22, whilst just two wins would put us on 26 minus whatever a defeat cost us! So lose a game and we could still squeak fourth even if Newcastle and Spurs will all their games. But only just.
Scenario 4 – Drop five points
That would take us to just 69 points. At that total, we could come fifth or sixth depending on Newcastle v Chelsea. Nightmare!
Of course, all these scenarios depend on our rvals taking full advantage of any mistakes we make, so these are all the worst case. In one sense I think that we have quite a good run-in from here. Stoke, Norwich & West Brom. None of them easy games, but none of them have anything much to play for now. None of them can aspire to European football. Theoretically, Norwich and Stoke could still be be relegated. But that would depend on a lot of teams overhauling them, including Bolton stringing together five victories. If Bolton could manage five victories then they wouldn’t be nineteenth.
Meanwhile, Newcastle have to play a direct rival and a club fighting relegation. If City beat Utd next Monday, they may also have to play a title contender. Spurs have to play three clubs fighting for their Premier League survival, Chelsea must play two plus a direct rival.
So, yes it’s tight and I wish we’d found a winner against Chelsea. But this is still doable. But it is tight.