Rivals’ Roundup: Bums gettin’ squeaky…


Eek. While we can pretty safely assume that there are just two clubs vying to win the Prem, just who that will be got a lot murkier this past weekend. Spots three through eight could go any which way, not that any of those ways matter to us other than for spiteful reasons (wouldn’t it be nice to see Villa and Brighton finish above Tottenham? Mmm….).For as much as we look nervoulsy to our remaining fixtures, we also look regretfully to points dropped in the past. Is it too soon to start consoling ourselves on an amazing run, or can we still find a way to finish ahead of City? Let’s get to the roundup…

  1. Arsenal (23W 4D 3L: 73 pts.)
    It was the best of times; it was the blurst of times. We went into Anfield having not won there since 2012, and for a half an hour, it looked like we would lay waste to that abhorrent record. And then…and then…well, there’s only so many fingers one can point to apportion blame. Then again, it’s not as if we lost 1-0 (ahem, Man City), 2-1 (Toon, that would be you), or 7-0 (dare I even speak your name?). Going into this match, most if not all of us would have gladly accepted a draw. To have gone ahead only to be pulled back simply shows how good we can be— and how much better we will yet become. Yes, the result makes it mathematically possible for Man City to win the Prem\, but there are still a few fixtures left to play.
  2. Man City (21W 4D 4L: 67 pts.)
    Yes, yes, yes, Man City have a game in hand and waltzed past Southampton, who have been a bit of a bogey team to others in the top six. Yes, they (well, Pep at least) crave silverware with the intensity of a thousand suns blazing off of the bald pate of one who overthinks. The fixtures will come fast and furious for Pep’s side over the next six weeks, and one might just catch him muttering “call me Ishmael” more than once as he lashes his minions ever onward in search of that white whale that is the Champions League. Will Pep succumb to its siren’s song at the cost of dropping points in the Prem? 26 April wonders if it will still be relevant by the time it rolls around.
  3. Newcastle (15W 11D 3L: 56 pts.)
    Eddie Howe’s minions continue to improve and impress, They’ve now won five in a row, scoring more in those last five than in the previous ten. Wilson and Isak look like they’re finding some chemistry, and, to be honest, I can’t find anything to mock Newcastle for without incurring the wrath of those who have a penchant for making journalists disappear bit by bit, not that I see myself as a journalist. Lest I cast any untoward aspersions, it must be said without any hint of sarcasm that karma clearly stepped in to give the Magpies an assist courtesy of Ivan Toney’s tame effort from the spot, easily denied by Pope. Clearly, the universe smiles on Newcastle, and for good reason. A sarcasm detector? Oh, that’s a real useful invention.
  4. Man U (17W 5D 7L: 56 pts.)
    Could Man U complete a treble in an otherwise underwhelming season? Having won the League Cup, they still soldier on in the FA Cup and Europa League, with a not-at-all ironic eye on the idea that they can pursue both while also solidifying a top-four finish. Having bravely found their way past an Everton side that courageously swashbuckles its way away from relegation— oh, wait, they’re level on points with Nottingham Forest, they’re clearly on their way back to something remotely resembling relevance…until Marcus “I’m a Ballon D’Or candidate” Rashford came up lame. On the other hand, Casemiro will be back until his next red card, and so too is Eriksen, which should give Harry Kane a leg up in his quest to break Alan Shearer’s goal-scoring record…
  5. Tottenham (16W 5D 9L: 53 pts.)
    Must I really? To be honest, Spurs comptelely and totally earned their most-recent win, this one over Brighton, with numerous not-at-all controversial decisions breaking their way. Brighton had two goals disallowed and were denied a penalty shout so obvious that the PGMOL admitted after the match that they had gotten it wrong. Go figure. Taking a longer view, De Zerbi may have scuttled his audition to take the Spursy wheel by getting into a war of words before the match even started and getting sent off for a sideline fracas along with Stellini. Even if Tottenham manage to hold off Unai Emery’s Aston Villa, one really has to wonder if this squad has already run its course.

Speaking of Aston Villa, it’s nothing short of remarkable that Emery has lifted this squad from relegation fodder to one with a decent chance at a Europa League spot. Hell, if Spurs do what Spurs frequently do, Emery will have the Villans in fifth before too long. Finishing fourth is probably a bridge too far, given that they trail Man U (who have a game in hand) by nine points. Nipping at their heels are Brighton, who hold two games in hand over both VIlla and Spurs and might take umbrage at having been offered a tepid apology but no points from the PGMOL after numerous controversial decisions. Whatever these next weeks bring us, isn’t it nice to be looking down at those fighting for scraps rather than being among them?

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8 thoughts on “Rivals’ Roundup: Bums gettin’ squeaky…

  1. palladio43

    What you fail to mention are some of those mid-table sides below this group that managed to secure draws or wins, as usual, from Arsenal earlier this season and year. It may well be those points lost that will determine the PL title. Hopefully not. All we need, of course, is to beat or draw with City and win all the rest. Not an easy task, but….

    1. Jon Shay Post author

      I did alluded to points dropped in the past but didn’t mention those midtable clubs. It’s a shame we went up at Anfield only to squander that. Imagine how different the narrative would have been had the situation been reversed. It’s now mathematically possible for Man City to match us on points and, presumably, edge us out on goal difference, so we’ll have to hope that they drop points while they pursue the FA Cup and Champions League, the latter of which is Pep’s proverbial white whale.

  2. Mike

    I hate to say it but we dropped the ball and its all in Citeh’s hands now. I don’t see them dropping any points anywhere in the Prem unless we can pull off a massive miracle when we go there. It’s been a glorious run and there’s no shame in falling short.

    1. palladio43

      It is or was a glorious opportunity, but consider that about nine months ago we would have settled for just top four and the CL. The question going forward regardless of how this season ends is whether ownership is willing to spend enough to improve and enlarge squad depth and ability and whether some of these others (possibly not Spurs) get even better and make reaching the top that much harder.

      1. Jon Shay Post author

        well-said. For as good as we’ve done thus far, we’ve done it without making much progress in the League Cup, FA Cup, or Europa League, getting ousted in each by inferior opposition when Arteta opted for rotation. To borrow from Martin Brody, we’re going to need a bigger (deeper) squad. The drop-off from starters to their backups is still too much for us to continue at this level while also competing against the bigger fish we’ll face in the Champions League.

        1. palladio43

          The issue of depth and spending makes me think that, even if Arsenal wins the PL this season, they may be one-hot wonders much like Leicester were a few years ago. Win once and never again. If the Gunners fail this year will Stan or his son be moved to spend more to reach the top or win more silverware? Since they will make lots of money anyway especially once in the CL, will we revert to the Wenger era of close but no cigar? Just spending enough but never as much as needed.


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