The mid-week fixture between the Blues and the Spurs is shaping out as the biggest London derby and probably one of the most important matches this season in terms of Champions League qualification that will surely have ramifications on the top 4 aspirations of not only the two clubs involved in the match but also on the third London club in contention – Arsenal. With both Chelsea and Tottenham coming off similar impressive wins, with the solitary winning goal being scored in the dying minutes, the match at Stamford Bridge is sure to be a lively and tough affair. From a Gunner perspective, a Chelsea win or a draw would be the perfect result as it could help Arsenal in their quest to cling on to a Champion’s League spot come season end.
The tussle for a top 4 finish currently looks like this with only 3 points separating the 3 teams and Chelsea and Tottenham having played a game less than Arsenal. Chelsea and Arsenal have a superior goal difference than Tottenham and if Tottenham ends up with equal points as any of the other two at the end of the season, they would have to settle for a Europa League spot again. A Chelsea win or a draw would leave the standings unchanged and give Arsenal a slight edge over Tottenham.
Table 1-Premier League table - race for the 3rd and 4th spots
IF CHELSEA WIN
Table 2-Scenario if Chelsea wins
If Chelsea ends up winning against the Spurs, they would have a 4 point cushion over Arsenal and a huge 6 point lead over Tottenham with only 2 games remaining and that would all but cement their position at 3rd leaving Arsenal and Tottenham fighting for the 4th position. Only a dramatic meltdown against Aston Villa and Everton would leave Chelsea at 71 points (highly unlikely going by Chelsea’s currentform) and considering Arsenal and Tottenham win their remaining games, Chelsea might still finish inside the top 4 on superior goal difference.
IF IT ENDS IN A STALEMATE
Table 3-Scenario if the match ends in a draw
Such a result would make the table even tighter and leave little breathing space for either of the clubs in their remaining games. A slight benefit for Arsenal would nevertheless exist as they would have a 1 point lead over the Spurs and if both of them win their remaining games (and Chelsea wins as well), Arsenal would again pip Tottenham for the 4th spot.
IF TOTTENHAM WINS
Table 4-Scenario if Tottenham wins
This would be the least favourable scenario for Arsenal as they would be pushed out of the top 4 and that would leave them anxiously watching and hoping other results go in their favour even if they win their remaining games. For, if Chelsea and Tottenham do not stumble again, Arsenal would be doomed.
Going by their current form, Chelsea would be the favourite to come out with 3 points at Stamford Bridge. They have been playing brilliant football all week and the comeback victory against Basel in the Europa League semi-finals coupled with a huge win at Old Trafford this Sunday would certainly have boosted their confidence and their adrenaline going into their next match against Tottenham. As for the Spurs, their superstar Gareth Bale might be the difference again but if Chelsea manages to take him out of the equation, it might be a tough fight for the Spurs. Chelsea is also a very physical team and hard to beat at home and it would truly be an upset if Tottenham manages to come out on top.
The Gunners have a proud record of 16 consecutive top 4 finishes and this season, already barren of trophies, would be a huge disaster if that streak is broken. A finish outside the top 4 would not only shatter the confidence of the team and the fans but would also have a huge impact on Wenger’s prospects at the club (and he is still the best man to lead the club next season) and his chances of signing big names in the transfer window. After all, with the current level of play being exhibited by Arsenal (very promising talent yet futile results but with a hint of hope for next season) if there is no guarantee of top tier European football, targets such as David Villa and Stefan Jovetic would have aneasy excuse to not move to the Emirates. This impact would then reciprocate in the upcoming seasons and leave the fans with bigger heartaches (than already present)!
For Arsenal, the goal cannot be clearer – win their remaining matches against Wigan and Newscastle and hope that Tottenham or Chelsea stumbles in at least one of its remaining games. That would add to the Gunners’ record and grant Arsene Wenger a big life line for the next season and the opportunity to bring in established stars to the Emirates in the summer.
What do you predict?