Premier League Title Race Far From Over For Arsenal

 Premier League Title Race Far From Over For Arsenal

Most soccer pundits will claim that Arsenal’s title challenge is over after their deserved 2-1 loss against Tottenham Hotspur Wednesday night when they were outclassed by a Spurs side who played more like they wanted to win. But the inconsistency that each of the Big Four clubs has shown this season tells us the Premier League title race is far from over.

Based on the performances of late, it’s entirely possible that Tottenham Hotspur will give Chelsea a tough time when the Blues visit White Hart Lane on Saturday afternoon. Plus, Manchester City has its best chance in ages of beating Manchester United at the City of Manchester Stadium on Saturday morning. Who does Arsenal play this weekend? None other than Wigan Athletic who disappointingly could only draw 0-0 Wednesday night against Portsmouth.

If Chelsea slips up against Spurs and Manchester City beats its cross-town rivals United, and Arsenal wins at the DW Stadium, the Gunners will move into second place and will only be three points behind Chelsea. And remember that Arsenal has the easiest run of fixtures between now and the end of the season in early May.

Having said that, Arsenal did not look anywhere near Premier League title contenders Wednesday night at White Hart Lane where they were completely played off the park until the last 20 minutes when Robin van Persie came on as a substitute to ignite Arsenal’s attack. Prior to that, Arsenal were pathetic, lacked a leader on the pitch, were flaccid in attack and failed to create any real chances except for an attempt that was cleared off the line in the first few minutes and a shot by Nicklas Bendtner that whizzed past the far post three quarters of the way into the match.

Tottenham’s game plan was perfect. Harry Redknapp’s side played exactly the way that Arsenal should have played against Barcelona. As soon as Arsenal got the ball, Tottenham pressured the players and stifled any chances of creating anything meaningful in midfield. When Spurs got the ball, they broke on the counter and used the pace of Gareth Bale and Jermain Defoe to break down the Arsenal defense. But when Arsenal did attack, Tottenham quickly retreated and got nine men behind the ball to prevent Arsenal from having anyone to pass to in the box.

When Tottenham opened the scoring through a wonder goal by Danny Rose — and what a spectacular volley it was — the players and supporters at White Hart Lane erupted and it really seemed as if it was going to be Tottenham’s night. The 19-year-old Rose scored one of the goals of the season on his Premier League debut start. It doesn’t get any better than that for the former Leeds United footballer.

I won’t go into the full match report, but three players who were inspirational for me Wednesday night were Gareth Bale, Heurelho Gomes and Robin van Persie. Bale, even up until the final whistle, was explosive down the left wing for Tottenham. As he has been all season, he delivered dangerous crosses from the left wing, put every ounce of energy into his tackles and continually gave right back Bacary Sagna a tough time throughout the night until the Frenchman was taken off.

As for van Persie and Gomes, these two players created golden moments for highlight reels which we could watch over and over again. Van Persie had three incredible shots on goal and showed in just minutes what Arsenal has been missing most of the season. But just as van Persie delivered these world-class attempts on goal, Heurelho Gomes was equal to the task and performed save after world-class save to keep the Gunners at bay. When Arsenal finally did score through Bendtner, it was a flurry of a finish but Spurs held on for a well-deserved three points that re-ignites their race for fourth place.

This is one of those Premier League seasons that has been so topsy-turvy with Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United all flip-flopping in their race for the title. And at the same time, the race for fourth has seen several teams flip flop such as Manchester City, Spurs, Liverpool and Aston Villa. So many neutral observers of this league have complained for far too long that the league is too predictable. But in this final dash for the Premier League title and the race for fourth, we’ve seen how unpredictable this league and this season really is. What an incredible match we witnessed and what a brilliant advertisement it was for the English game.

About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013. View all posts by Christopher Harris →

21 Responses to Premier League Title Race Far From Over For Arsenal

  1. Will says:

    Great comments as always Gaffer. Just finished watching the match on my dvr and what an amazing game it was. As a Spurs fan it was definitely the most thrilling of the season and a well deserved win. COYS!

  2. Dan says:

    This article was a good read as my Spurs were praised for their efforts tonight. Would love to see what people think now about the fourth spot going forward as the battle for 2nd and 3rd between united and the goons isn’t that intriguing. My take is that it will all come down to the game between City and Spurs on May 5 at Eastlands. Both have tough games ahead and then finish at relegation fodder to end the year so I would think the other games in the schedule will not create much of a gap between the two. Thoughts anyone?

  3. thomas says:

    Very fair assessment of the game, but I think Arsenal’s tilt for glory is much much more difficult after last night. Wenger admits as much in the post match interview. I am a happy but knackered spurs fan in my Hong Kong office now after an almost sleepless night.
    Hopefully we can recover by Saturday and take our chances against Chelsea…. and obviously I am hoping for a ManU win at the weekend.

    COME ON YOU SPURS!

  4. daveg says:

    Great match and what about the ESPN coverage of the game taking the PL Direct feed for half time and full time wrap ups with great “Best of” highlights in between
    Fair play to ESPN for showing it all when they could have easily went to 15 mins of ads

    • goke313 says:

      i told ya…ESPN’s coverage of the PL has been top-notch chelsea vs bolton match in HD w/pre+halftime+post game coverage done right

      yet people prefer FOX to show PL over ESPN

    • The Gaffer says:

      Dave, yep, I was pleasantly surprised by the half-time and post-match decision by ESPN to show the PL Direct feed. Definitely a nice touch. But I was pissed at them for showing the bloody crawl across the bottom during parts of the game and telling everyone what the scores were in the other live Premier League games, which ruined the games for me that I was taping.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

    • CTBlues says:

      I liked the ESPN UK feed of the Chelsea vs Bolton match the best. I really liked
      pre-half-post game commentary. The Spurs vs Arsenal match half-time PL Direct was good too but I prefer actual commentary about the game being played than just high lights to music.

      How did ESPN make any money during the Spurs vs Arsenal match if they ran no commercials at half time?

  5. jonathan says:

    This wasn’t the match that I saw. I saw Arsenal pressuring and prodding and Tottenham playing with 10 men behind the ball and Defoe up top, usually offsides. I think Arsenal were unlucky to lose that match, basically because of that wonder goal in the 10th min. But credit to the Spuds, they defended well and were dangerous on the counter.

  6. Dan says:

    I think your analysis was a little harsh on Arsenal. They clearly had many more chances on goal than Spurs. It was clear Arsenal missed Fabregas, Arshavin and Song.
    For me the teams were pretty evenly matched with the wonder strike the main difference. With the addition of Van Persie Arsenal were clearly a better team but Gomes stepped up and made Tottenham much better as well.

    Van Persie is top-notch! What an amazing team arsenal could have been with even 3/4 of a season with him. If Arsenal can avoid the injury bug (HAHA!) they will be a joy to watch next season.

    • Non-Delustion Dan says:

      What I really mean is Arsenal lost and I can’t come to grips with it, so I have to lash out and place blame everywhere but where it really belongs – on the Arsenal players who couldn’t get it done! Wahhh!

  7. Stefan Luca says:

    Brilliant match.
    Agree with most on here. The Arse had most of the possesssion with out every really looking dangerous till the last 20 minutes. Spurs played on the counter with numbers behind the ball but looked very dangerous going forward. Both missed key players but what an atmosphere.
    The arse have no chance of winning the league now. Chelski will not drop 6+ points.

  8. oliver says:

    Chelsea’s GD is also 15 better than Arsenals so it’s more likely than not that Chelsea will have to lose two and draw one of the last four (against Tottenham (a), Stoke (h), Liverpool (a) and Wigan (h)) for Arsenal to have any real chance

  9. daveG says:

    ever the red devil optimist here….but I DO see Chelski having a chance at dropping 3 points at Spurs AND 2 at Anfield….only problem is I am not convinced that United can beat City away…A win at Eastlands and a Spurs win will give Chelski squeaky bum time and make it very interesting..anything else and its all over bar the shouting

  10. Yespage says:

    If Chelsea doesn’t win, it’ll be Man United. I think Liverpool is about even with Arsenal regarding a chance to winning the Premier League… ie, not a chance. May see an interesting last month, with the top three squads doing their best to lose the Premier League championship.

    The competitiveness is great though and I’m looking forward to Chelsea verses Stoke City. That probably won’t be a walk over and Chelsea will need to earn their 3 pts, which they probably will, should be fun though.

    • Yespage says:

      I’m not saying “I told ya so” but after this weekend, with the top three squads doing their best not to win the EPL, I can’t help but point that out. Man United barely snuck in that three points meanwhile Chelsea and Arsenal were both demonstrating why neither of them had wrapped up the EPL by now.

  11. Erich says:

    To be fair to Arsenal, they were playing without Cesc, Arshavin, Song, and Gallas. When Vermaelen had to be taken off, they were then playing with a central defense that had a combined age of 69. With that said, I believe the analysis of Arsenal being pathetic is overly harsh. It is a wonder they were able to stay in the match to the bitter end.

  12. SeminoleGunner says:

    I still can’t believe how sharp RVP looked yesterday. Typically when he comes back from injury the first few chances he has are more likely to end up in the seats than on target, but he came out firing on all cylinders.

    Of course, once RVP finally comes back from injury ready to score, the oft criticized Gomes starts playing like Buffon. That is this season for you.

    I felt like Spurs deserved the victory. It’s been a long time for them and I hope this result brings even more heat to a great rivalry.

  13. Blueyid says:

    And Spurs were playing without starters in Lennon, Palacios, Woodgate, Corluka, and Kranjcar (who would’ve started if fit because of Bentley’s dead leg). North London seems to have some horrible medics in all honesty. Both squads were depleted and the quality of the game was not exactly high, with Arsenal struggling to create chances until the last 10 minutes and Spurs unable to string more than a few passes together.

    The league should pretty much be decided this weekend. If United don’t gain ground on Chelsea, then the title is definitely Chelsea’s. Liverpool are pretty much out of the race for fourth and they won’t put up much of a fight against Chelsea, so this weekend is the likeliest for Chelsea to drop points. Arsenal’s backline will probably get destroyed by Tevez & Co, so I can’t see them pulling themselves back into it even if both Chelsea and United drop points this weekend. Chelsea’s run-in is pretty easy and United’s won’t be difficult either after this weekend.

    The race for fourth is looking like a battle between City and Spurs now, with City having a slight advantage of playing against Spurs at home (with similarly difficult run-ins elsewhere) and Spurs injuries piling up at the wrong time. Pool and Villa have relatively easy run-ins, but we’ll see after this weekend – if either City or Spurs pick up three difficult points, it’s over for those two.

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