Arsenal Now in Pole Position for the Final Champions League Place
Remain calm, that wretched, nauseating feeling throughout your body is simply a natural reaction to rooting for Sp*rs. It should start to pass now that the match has concluded. If you find that you are unable to overcome this feeling, try watching an Arsenal victory over Sp*rs. I recommend Arsenal’s 2-1 victory at the Emirates last season. It will serve the dual purpose of restoring your health and reminding you what it looks like when Bendtner finds the back of the net.
It’s easy to make light of today’s match between Sp*rs and Villa now that it is over. With just six days until spring, Arsenal’s season seems to be undergoing a seasonally appropriate renewal of sorts. But make no mistake, today’s match was critically important to the Gunners’ chase for fourth place. After today, Villa’s next four fixtures are Liverpool (a), United (a), Everton (h), West Ham (h). We really need Villa to drop as many points as possible during this run because it is very poosible that they will not drop another point in their final six matches. These “fixtures of death,” if you will, are where Arsenal can open up a gap between fourth and fifth. If Villa drop too many points during that time, they may well lose their determination heading into the easier games that end their season. We needed Villa to relinquish fourth place today before packing their bags for Anfield. And they willingly obliged.
There’s no question that Villa have some real attacking talent. Ashley Young looked fantastic in the first half, and James Milner and Gareth Barry are solid. (Allow me to point out how thrilled I am that we did not sign Gareth Barry. Can you picture him as a Gunner? No thank you.) Even though he has faded lately, Gabby “I-banged-a-whore” is still a threat with his pace and surprising strength on the ball. It seems Stillian Petrov has settled into the Premier League style and Jon Carew is too big for his own good. But as good as they can be going forward, Aston Villa are truly shocking in defense. Luke Young is at risk of losing his starting spot to one of the big slabs of rock from Stonehenge. He is simply dreadful. And he’s not alone back there. None of the Villa defenders seem to have the slightest idea what they’re doing. It makes for some really fun viewing every time they show Martin O’Neil wearing that patented “I just crapped my pants again” look on his face.
Sp*rs really could have put Villa to the sword early in the match, but decided to leave just enough room for a comeback so that Arsenal fans everywhere could gnaw off the remaining bits of their nails left after Wednesday night in Rome. But when the final whistle blew, the Premier League table had an old familiar look about it. The “big four” are once again the “top four.”
Now Villa will really start to doubt the validity of their challenge. It’s one point from twelve for them and they face the very distinct possibility of making it one point from eighteen after their next two matches. Not “top four” form to say the least. Villa may well look back on that 2-2 draw with Stoke as the moment it slipped away. Arsenal fans may well say “who the hell cares, we’re in fourth place, bitches!” Perhaps fourth place is not the proper ambition for such a storied team, but it’ll do for now.
Although Chelsea, Liverpool and United are still on our fixture list, we have some very winnable games ahead. We are fortunate that the big games happen just late enough in the season that we should have almost a full squad for Wenger to choose from when the time comes.
Tomorrow we’ll preview the FA Cup quarter-final against Hull City at the Emirates. Tonight, dream of Champions League play next season.