Race to third spot: Arsenal vs Tottenham
The Premier League Title contest has been reduced to a two-horse race, now with Tottenham effectively out of contention. And with the two Manchester clubs going all out for the title, it is little surprise that other teams have been deprived of the limelight. Yet, there is another contest, another rivalry that has been heating up in the sidelines. Arsenal and Tottenham fight for the third and final Champions League direct qualification spot, a contest that has intensified the rivalry between the two teams.
Tottenham, now three points behind their North London rivals, have eight games to close up on Arsenal. Having had a great start to the season, Spurs looked all set to finish higher than the Gunners in the points table for the first time in over ten years, come the end of the season. Comfortably positioned 10 points ahead of fourth placed Arsenal, before their visit to the Emirates stadium for theNorth Londonderby, any talk of them not finishing in the top four seemed far-fetched. But three losses in a row and two draws since and five wins for Arsenal during the same period have pushed Arsenal up to the third place with a three point lead over their rivals. And with Chelsea, at fifth position, breathing down their neck, Spurs risk losing even the fourth spot.
Arsenal on the other hand, will complete a fairy-tale recovery, should they finish third this season. After a disastrous start to the season – including the 2-8 loss to Manchester United – Arsenal led by their in-form captain Robin Van Persie, have made great progress to get to where they are . When they were trailing 2-0 to Spurs at the Emirates after 35 minutes, anyone considering the gunners for a third place finish would have been laughed at. And yet, here is Arsenal with a third place finish seeming possible, even probable. But three points is hardly a cushion, considering that Spurs has the relatively easier set of fixtures to come, their only challenging fixtures being perhaps the trips to Sunderland and Aston Villa.
While the forthcoming fixtures seem to place Tottenham at an advantage, recent form would suggest Arsenal to be the favourites. Theo Walcott, and Rosicky finding their touch again has helped the gunners’ cause. Add world class managers, Arsene Wenger and Harry Redknapp to the mixture and you have the recipe for a splendid contest. While the odds are even, I personally expect (and hope) Arsenal to win this show down. Come on You Gunners!