Arsene Wenger may want to go out and buy a lottery ticket as soon as possible as luck’s clearly on his side right now. Arsenal’s fate is once again back in their own hands after Newcastle dropped a 2-0 decision at home to Manchester City on Sunday while Spurs were held to a 1-1 draw at Aston Villa.
The season truly is going down to the wire with three separate races going on, for first place, for the coveted third spot and a guaranteed Champions League berth, as well as the relegation battle. Arsenal can still finish the season as high as third in the table or could possibly drop all the way down to sixth.
Spurs and Newcastle could both still pass the Gunners while Chelsea could conceivably pull even with them since they’re six points behind, but have two games to play. If that happened, then goal difference would come into play as a tiebreaker with Arsenal currently at a goal difference of 24 and Chelsea at 21. Spurs are just one behind Arsenal in goal difference at 23 while Newcastle’s is seven.
If two teams are level at the end of the season on points and goal difference, then the next tiebreaker is goals for. This is where Arsenal has a decent lead with 71 goals on the season compared to 64 by Spurs, 55 by Newcastle, and Chelsea’s 62. But if they simply win at West Brom next Sunday they’re guaranteed third place and a Champions League spot.
Wenger has urged his troops to man-up and take all three points next week to make sure they don’t have to depend on the results of other games. He said after the exciting 3-3 draw with Norwich, which was definitely the best game of the season so far for neutrals, that the team is relying too much on Robin van Persie and several players are nothing much more than passengers.
Van Persie’s been on a tear most of the season and while Wenger would like to see somebody else put a ball into the net for a change, most Gunners supporters are hoping the Dutchman gets his name on the score sheet next week to equal the EPL 38-game record for goals. Alan Shearer and Cristiano Ronaldo both hold the record with 31 goals in a season, while Andy Cole scored 34 goals in a 42-game campaign.
Van Persie has 30 league goals so far and 37 in total. A pair next week would see him own the scoring record all by himself and just one would at least see him grab a share of it. It’s also possible that it could be van Persie’s last game in an Arsenal uniform. Rumours are starting to spread again that Man City would offer him up to 250,000 pounds a week to head north and join them.
That remains to be seen though, and nobody really knows which way he’s leaning at the moment other than van Persie himself. Making or missing the champions League next season could be a deciding factor though. One thing that is certain is that Arsenal will have to play their season finale without the services of French defender Bacary Sagna.
Unfortunately, he broke a bone in his right leg again in the 33rd minute of the Norwich game. Sagna wasn’t too happy about it either and accused the Canaries’ Bradley Johnson of trying to deliberately injure him. Sagna broke the fibula in the game and suffered the same injury against Spurs back in October. He had a metal plate inserted into his leg and missed about four months of the season.
After the match with Norwich, Sagna said he thinks Johnson stamped on his leg on purpose. He said he got back up and tried to control the ball, but felt his leg crack the same way it did in October. He added that Johnson stepped on him right where the metal plate is in his leg. He said he thinks the plate put pressure on the bone and broke it, but at least it’s a clean break.
Sagna could be sidelined for up to three months and he’ll definitely miss this summer’s Euro 2012 tournament in Poland and Ukraine.