The Intensified Battle for Third Place and a List of Underrated Gunners
In a gruelling campaign that’s reaching its climax, various teams in the Premier League are close to achieving their pre-season targets while others are in great peril. At the tail end of the log table, Wolves’ fate has more or less been sealed but Bolton, Blackburn, Wigan, Queens Park Rangers and probably Aston Villa are in a dogfight to escape the clutches of relegation.
While the owners of newly-promoted Norwich and Swansea can give themselves a pat on the back for a successful campaign, the hierarchy in the Red half of Merseyside will certainly be gnashing their teeth over the wasted investments this year. Despite blowing wads of cash in their bid to be with the elite, Liverpool is languishing in eighth place and things are getting worse for King Kenny and his hordes.
When Arsenal defeated Manchester City, their arch-rivals went eight points clear but a series of disappointing results for the Red Devils have seen the oil moneybags cut the gap to just three points making the upcoming Manchester Derby a mouthwatering contest.
However, there’s a position in the Premier League that’s now a piece of unfinished business. After the blistering run of seven wins in a row coupled with bad results elsewhere, Arsenal was in pole position to end the season as the third best team in the land.
Queens Park Rangers showcased the team’s complacency but the victory of Manchester City turned every frown upside down. Wigan came to down with a game plan that worked superbly for them but the Gunners didn’t give a Manchester City-esque response against a second-tier Chelsea side that had half an eye in today’s semifinal against Barcelona.
Even Bacary Sagna has admitted that the performance wasn’t good enough.
Newcastle’s impressive win over Stoke has seen them emerge as Arsenal’s newest threat for the coveted automatic Champions League slot and if the Magpies win their game in hand, they’ll be level on points with the Gunners. However, Thomas Vermaelen believes that the Gunners can hold the fort to claim third place:
“We didn’t win the last two games, and they were really good chances to put ourselves into third place comfortably. At the moment we still have to fight for third place. It will be a big effort for everybody to get that third place. It is not going to be easy, but that is because you play in England and it is not an easy league. Everybody can beat everybody.”
“There are a lot of teams involved, ourselves, Tottenham, Chelsea and Newcastle. It is going to be tight, but it is going to be interesting. It is going to be hard to keep third place, but I am confident that we will.”
Arsenal will visit the Britannia Stadium to play that Rugby outfit before hosting Norwich City, then the Gunners will end the campaign away to West Brom. The way Arsenal has played this season has thought me to expect the unexpected from these lads.
This team came back from two goals down to decimate Tottenham’s best team in 50 years and they were also a goal away from turning a four-goal deficit against the defending champions of the Serie A. Unfortunately enough, this is the same team that has lost 10 Premier League games this season and are bracing themselves up for yet another trophy-less campaign.
Despite the major lows of the season, there have been many things to cheer about and one can look no further than the individual performances of some certain players that stepped up the plate this season.
Starting from the top of the pile, Robin van Persie showed the world what he could do if he stayed injury free and his scintillating performances as well as numerous goals earned him the PFA Player of the Year award. The Flying Dutchman has stated that winning the prestigious is a dream come true for him.
Goal.com set up a voting poll for the potential winner of the Premier League Golden Boot. On the Red corner, you’ll find Arsenal’s perpetual goalscoring machine of the first kind, RVP, and one the Blue corner, you’ll find Manchester United’s net-bursting Ogre, Shrek.
Robin van Persie deservedly stole the limelight but there is a list of some Gunners that have been massively underrated for their performances this season. When I took a candid look at the PFA Team of the Year, I was very disappointed not to see the likes of Laurent Koscielny, Alex Song and Theo Walcott in the list.
Koscielny has been a beast this season and is certainly better than Fabrizio Coloccini in my opinion. Vermaelen ran out of superlatives for his defensive partner labelling him as a key ingredient to Arsenal’s success story next season. The Frenchman played a lot of football last season but the way he matured tremendously has been a major jaw dropper.
If Koscielny is not selected for France in the forthcoming European Championships, I’ll go berserk. The likes of Mamadou Sakho and Phillippe Mexes have not been as impressive as the Bosscielny this season.
The central midfield pairing of the season were Yaya Toure and Scotty Parker. Alex Song has been a phenom in this campaign but I don’t want to be biased on this analysis. In as much as I hate everything Tottenham stands for, Parker has had one hell of a season and I have a hunch that he slightly displaced Song to earn himself a place in the Team of the Year.
I believe that Song could be among the nominees for the African Footballer of the Year but he’ll face stiff competition from Yaya Toure (who also displaced him in the Team of the Year) as well as Papiss Cisse, Cheick Tiote and Demba Ba. I haven’t even mentioned other outstanding Africans playing in other leagues.
Theo Walcott missed out on England’s last big tournament but he’s odds on to stake his claim for a starting place in this summer’s Euros. Walcott’s game has improved tremendously but the complacency factor still creeps in from time to time. He’s currently nursing a hamstring injury that has ruled him out for the rest of the season but he’ll be fit enough for the tourney.
Despite the fact that the performances of Laurent Koscielny, Alex Song and Theo Walcott haven’t been given the credit they duly deserve, the fans of Arsenal Football Club will continue to give them their undying support.
Kos is certainly the Boss and it’s not a greyhound, it’s not a cheetah, it’s Theo Walcott.
Finally, there’s only one Song.
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