With Manchester City seemingly on course for the Premier League title, much of the debate is now about the chasing pack of five team behind them.
There is an accurate notion that Liverpool, Tottenham, Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea are all fighting for the same top four spots but in truth, two of those teams, United and Chelsea, are effectively ahead of the rest in the race…not necessarily mathematically but theoretically.
First of all, Spurs face United (H) and Liverpool (A) next, after dropping points in their ‘banker’ fixture previously, with a 1-1 draw at Southampton, despite looking like they would pull away from Arsenal and fight it out with Liverpool and Chelsea for the top four.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men will need a result soon, otherwise they are likely to be 6th come the time the Champions League returns. Also, not to forget, Spurs actually play Arsenal, the weekend before they face Juventus in the Champion’s League first leg.
Imagine if they lost all three of these crunch games and failed to beat Juventus at Wembley? It would be quite a concerning run.
Arsenal have much better fixtures before they play their north London rivals, with Swansea (A) and Everton (H). You would expect them to win both, though with recent results for other teams it’s a clear reminder anything can happen.
They could have folded last time out, and therefore they deserve a bit of credit. Trouncing Palace within the first 25 minutes did them a world of good as they went on to knock Chelsea out of the League Cup and make it to Wembley.
It is all probably just papering over some cracks, but the Gunners have got to hold onto these kind of things and take some confidence from it.
Win their next two and Spurs drop some points and they can really put the pressure on. Arsenal honestly looked like they were out of the picture and even though I still expect them to miss out on the top four (and probably finish 6th eventually), they can give themselves every chance now.
However, if Wenger’s side does not win the next two league games and lose to Spurs, they should put all their eggs in the other two baskets like Manchester United did last season. Go all-out to beat City in the League Cup final and hell for leather in the Europa League.
Liverpool on other hand, basically pulled off a ‘Liverpool’ by losing to bottom of the table Swansea after such a massive result.
On paper, they have some favourable fixtures in the next three, with Huddersfield (A) and Southampton (A) either side of Spurs (H).
However, what are the odds on them getting 1/6 points from Huddersfield and Saints, but beating Spurs? Knowing them, probably pretty high.
They most likely need all three wins if they don’t want to be slugging it out for the latter stages of the season.
Thus, I expect Liverpool to be in a really tight fight with Spurs and Arsenal rather than United and Chelsea if they can’t put these next few games to bed.