The Battle for Champions League Qualification Gets Intense
For perennial Champions League qualifiers likee Arsenal, it’s quite surprising to know that the Gunners have been in the top four just once in 24 Premier League game weeks. Is it that the Gunners form has been bad this season or teams around them have gotten better? I’d go with the latter.
Chelsea’s narrow win against Aston Villa (thank Heavens they finally scored) coupled with Manchester City’s last-gasp draw against Hull ensured that Jose Mourinho’s hordes extended their lead at the top. With Chelsea and Manchester City fighting for the title, their Champions League positions are more or less assured so the onus is on the teams below them to perform consistently enough to grab the remaining two spots.
Manchester United picked up form a couple of weeks ago and garnered a couple of wins which propelled them to third place but following their late draw with West Ham saw LVG’s side drop to fourth place. This was because of Southampton’s late win over QPR. Ronald Koeman must be commended for the amazing work he has done with the Saints, especially after they lost key players like Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw, Rickie Lambert and Calum Chambers. The Saints have been the surprise package of the league this season and while their ruthlessness against lower opposition teams have caught the eye, they have notched up impressive results against their Champions League contending rivals.
Then there’s Tottenham and the most in-form striker in England at the moment, Harry Kane. The youngster made his presence felt in his first North London derby and with the form he’s in, it’s going to be very hard to stop him. Following their victory over a direct rival like Arsenal, Tottenham have leapfrogged the Gunners to fifth place and they obviously have set their sights on the positions occupied by Southampton and Manchester United.
This essentially means that the Gunners have their work cut out if they want to match their minimum expectations for each season which is Champions League qualification. The Gunners are currently in the knockout stages of the competition and they still have an ‘outside’ chance of winning the big ear trophy but with the quality of teams still in the competition, you have to be one hell of an optimist if you feel the Gunners can win it.
Game week 25 hits our screens on Tuesday and Wednesday with the Gunners hosting Leicester City. Tottenham have a tasty encounter against Liverpool, Manchester United hosts Burnley and Southampton have a clash against West Ham. At the top, Chelsea hosts Everton while Manchester City has a tricky clash against Stoke.
More on the Leicester game tomorrow
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