Gooners across the globe want answers. We crave answers to questions burning within our souls. At this point, we just want to know. We are in that awkward stage of the season where honestly, anything is possible. We could finish 8th in the league, lose Champions League qualification, Wenger leaves, a number of star players jump ship, and we fail to attract quality players to the cause. Conversely, none of that could happen.
The numbers are in!
I’ve crunched the numbers. They are on the optimistic side, but finishing in the top 4 is definitely realistic. If we base the remaining results for all league fixtures off history, tradition and a touch of form, Arsenal can quite plausibly gain a Champions League Qualification spot.
I’m not claiming to see in to the future, or be 100% correct with these predictions, but I tend to find results tend to balance themselves out. For example, I’ve predicted Manchester United to take all 3 points off Chelsea at Old Trafford, but to get beat by their cross-city rivals; this may happen in reverse. Looking at the big picture, I have calculated the order to be: Chelsea (92pts), Manchester City (83pts), Tottenham (80pts), Arsenal (77pts). Followed by Manchester United (76 pts), Liverpool (75pts), Everton (66pts). Don’t get me wrong – it is tight. Very tight. But give or take a few results, this is a very likely final ladder, that given the current circumstances, I will happily accept.
Let me shed a little light on what I expect to happen with these results:
Chelsea – will win all games, but stumble a draw at home to Man City, lose to United, and a possible draw away to Everton if the title is within touching distance.
Tottenham – will win all remaining games, but come up short with a draw at West Ham (6th May – West Ham to find form by then), a draw with a desperate Manchester United at White Hart Lane, and of course, an Arsenal defeat (COYG!).
Man City – Their next two games are Arsenal at the Emirates, and Chelsea at the Bridge – I’m picking likely to be two draws. They will win all remaining games, including Manchester derby at the Etihad.
Liverpool – 4 draws, and 5 wins. Difficult away games to West Brom, Stoke, Watford and West Ham can all be potential hiccups for these in-form or battling teams.
Manchester United – Probably has the toughest run to the end. I think a win at home to Chelsea, but defeat in the derby, and two difficult draws; away to Arsenal (6th May) and Tottenham the week after. Will win most remaining mid-table games (maybe one draw on the road).
And finally, Arsenal – as previously mentioned, a draw at home to both Manchester City and Manchester United, combined with a huge victory at Spurs (30th April). I don’t feel I am too optimistic in expecting home wins against West Ham, Leicester and Sunderland; Away victories at Crystal Palace, Middlesboro, Stoke and Southampton. If the above details pan out to be fairly accurate, a point in the last game at home to Everton will be enough to Secure 4th spot, given all teams above will win their last game.
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So what does the future look like at Arsenal?
The call for change has come, and there are a couple of variables. Players don’t want to sign contracts for a team that is not realistically competing, or at the very least, improving. Wenger will stay on, but he must land some marquee signings. As we all know, this stems from behind the scenes, but the purse strings will be opening. There will be new faces in the dressing room come next season, and will entirely depend on the remaining games of the season. So will these be familiar faces we know well, or unfamiliar faces that show ‘promise?’
If Arsenal can land some good signings as early as possible, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez will stay. These talks and negotiations need to start behind the scenes now. And the players need to be winning games to make it more enticing. Arsenal desperately need experienced players to balance the team dynamic, and players that know what it takes to win and compete in a challenging league. Players that play against the best, and play well. The best teams have a mix of hard-working “get the job done” players, silky creative and often pacey players, and anticipators able to read the game very well, and be one step ahead. Of course, these styles can overlap, but game experience develops these qualities like no other.
If Arsenal can land even a couple of the heavily linked targets, there is a strong chance Ozil and Sanchez will stay on. Personally, I would love to see Alexandre Lacazette, and Ricardo Rodriguez on the shortlist again. It would be amazing to sign someone like Marco Reus and Kylian Mbappe, but this type of creative player with flair will come when the base is settled. For now, we should prefer Ozil and Sanchez with introductions to steady consistency.
If Arsenal cannot bring any marquee signings, players will jump ship, and they will be replaced with whatever is available at the time – similar to what Spurs did after selling Gareth Bale. We don’t want to do that!
So at the end of the day, no matter how ugly, pretty or in between – we must do whatever it takes to win. Just win, baby! The turmoil in the ranks will iron out when there is certainty on Arsenal’s final placing.