With momentum and form on our side and Manchester City and Chelsea dropping points, could Arsenal win the league this season?
After Manchester City lost to Burnley on Saturday, Arsenal moved to within one point of second place with just nine games left to play. I don’t think I’m the only one who didn’t see us climbing this high considering how we were playing and the points we were dropping unnecessarily earlier on. Nor did I see City dropping points against teams in the bottom half of the table, or the ‘invincible’ Chelsea drawing at home against Southampton.
However, here we are.
Chelsea sit at the top of the league with 64 points and a game in hand, seven points ahead of us in third and six above City. Manchester United are meanwhile bearing down on us in fourth, just one point behind.
With all of us set to face top teams and, in a few cases, each other, could we realistically win the league?
Statistically, obviously it is possible for us to win the league, just as it’s possible for us to lose all our matches and finish somewhere in mid-table (although I think we’re safe from relegation); the question is, is it probable?
I hadn’t made a table on Excel for a while so I decided to remind myself that I could still use it.
Here are Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool’s final nine – 10 in the case of Chelsea – fixtures of the 2014/15 season, and what I predict they’ll get from each match.
It’s colour-coded and everything. Green for a win, orange for a draw and – you guessed it – red for a loss.
I’ve also included both the points I predict they’ll gain from the remaining fixtures, and their points total for the whole season after adding said points.
I originally chose to do this for the current top three teams because, let’s face it, I’m an optimist at heart but I’m well aware that if we so much as stumble and Manchester United and/or Liverpool capitalise on it, we could easily finish in fifth or even sixth.
United look set to go on a decent run and Liverpool are far from out of the race for a top four place, so this is a very real possibility.
Therefore, I decided to include them as well.
Breaking it down
|Date||Chelsea||Manchester City||Arsenal||Manchester United||Liverpool|
|21/22nd March||Hull (a)||West Bromwich Albion (h)||Newcastle (a)||Liverpool (a)||Manchester United (a)|
|4/5th April||Stoke (h)||Crystal Palace (a)||Liverpool (h)||Aston Villa (h)||Arsenal (a)|
|11/12th April||Queens Park Rangers (a)||Manchester United (a)||Burnley (a)||Manchester City (h)||Newcastle (h)|
|18/19th April||Manchester United (h)||West Ham (h)||(FA Cup quarters)||Chelsea (a)||Hull City (a)|
|25/26th April||Arsenal (a)||Aston Villa (h)||Chelsea (h)||Everton (a)||West Bromwich Albion (a)|
|29th April||Leicester City (a)|
|2/3rd May||Crystal Palace (h)||Tottenham Hotspur (a)||Hull City (a)||West Bromwich Albion (h)||Queens Park Rangers (h)|
|9/10th May||Liverpool (h)||Queens Park Rangers (h)||Swansea City (h)||Crystal Palace (a)||Chelsea (a)|
|16/17th May||West Bromwich Albion (a)||Swansea City (a)||Manchester United (a)||Arsenal (h)||Crystal Palace (h)|
|24/25th May||Sunderland (h)||Southampton (h)||West Bromwich Albion (h)||Hull City (a)||Stoke (a)|
|Sunderland (tbc) (h)|
|Total League points||88||76||77||76||75|
Put simply, my total points prediction for the end of the season is as follows:
As you can see, shockingly, I don’t predict Arsenal will win the league this season.
I think Chelsea are just too strong and have too much of a head start.
They can afford to drop a couple of points, which I’m sure they will, and still remain at the top.
Saying this, as a fan, if you’d told me we would even be considering this a couple of months ago, I would’ve laughed myself into a coma.
I do think we’ve got a decent chance of finishing second. We have the momentum and although I do think we’ll drop points against Chelsea and Liverpool at home, and United away, I think City will ultimately drop more. I predict City will finish in third, only by goal difference and Liverpool will stay where they are in fifth.
Manchester City losing away to Crystal Palace may seem like a bit of an odd prediction. My reasoning behind this is completely illogical, because on paper the Eagles are a little bit hit or miss under Alan Pardew. They’ve had some encouraging results, their most recent of which being against Queens Park Rangers where they cruised to a 3-1 victory at home, but nothing too ground-breaking.
Although City are looking to bounce back from a bad result against Burnley in their match against West Bromwich Albion at home, I just have a gut feeling that when they encounter Palace in their next away fixture, they could falter again and the midtable team will be really up for it.
They’ll have seen Burnley’s impressive win and Pardew will get them well and truly pumped pre-match. Of course, I could be talking out of my backside here and City could maul them 10-0, but this is just a feeling I have.
Don’t hate me but I believe we will lose away to Manchester United because we beat them in the FA Cup. This fixture has revenge written all over it and since their loss to us seems to have rejuvenated them slightly, they’ll have a point to prove. It could be argued that we’ve won there once, we can do it again – and we can, I just don’t think we will.
Meanwhile, Manchester United will most likely drop points away to Chelsea. Tactically, Jose Mourinho will know exactly how to tear apart United’s headless chicken defence and will exploit it completely. At this point, it’s not even about the three points, it’s about ‘the chosen one’ showing the United manager who he thinks is the boss.
I suspect the Chelsea performance will be akin to a child tearing the wings of a fly. No matter how many goals Rooney can orchestrate, I don’t believe it’ll be enough to cover up their glaring problem at the other end of the pitch.
I don’t see Liverpool dropping points in the way of losses but I do think they’ll draw a fair amount, preventing them from climbing any higher in the table. I predict they’ll hold us to a draw but the match will be a tentative one; both teams and managers looking forward to a potential Liverpool versus Arsenal FA Cup final and feeling each other out, testing boundaries.
In answer to my original question: are Arsenal going to win the league? Probably not.
Do I think we’ll give it a damn good try? I really hope so.