A few weeks is a long time in football.
On April 9, Tottenham Hotspur put in an impressive performance to win 4-0 at Aston Villa. It was the club’s fourth consecutive victory and the team kept scoring. Those four wins yielded 14 goals.
More importantly, it gave Spurs a three-point lead in fourth – the last Premier League spot for Champions League qualification – ahead of rivals Arsenal.
The Gunners, favorites for that crucial fourth place earlier in the season, were apparently on a downward spiral. The team lost at home to Brighton on the same day as Spurs beat Villa. Last weekend, Arsenal lost their third game in a row, at Southampton.
But Spurs also lost last weekend (at home to Brighton) and yesterday could only draw 0-0 at Brentford. Arsenal, meanwhile, had a dream week. He surprisingly won 4-2 at Chelsea on Wednesday before beating Manchester United 3-1 yesterday.
The table has turned again and it is Arsenal who now occupy fourth place, two points clear.
Arsenal favorite after winning week
With five matches remaining of the season, Arsenal are now favorites for that final Champions League spot. He apparently found form at the right time and managed to navigate some of the toughest matches in his break-in.
The Spurs game against Arsenal on May 12 will probably still be key, but there’s a lot more football to play and a lot more opportunities for twists.
Arsenal’s next match, at West Ham next Sunday, looks, on paper, the toughest apart from the derby against Spurs. The match, however, is between West Ham’s first and second legs against Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League semi-finals.
West Ham have never won the competition and these are two huge games for the club. The East Londoners also have an injury crisis in defence. With injuries and suspensions, West Ham could have four centre-backs unavailable for Arsenal’s game. It’s fair to say that West Ham are likely to prioritize European fixtures over the league clash with Arsenal.
A trip to resurgent Newcastle is Arsenal’s penultimate game and it ends the season at home to struggling Everton, who may need a result to avoid relegation. These are not easy games, but after last week these are games that Arsenal will be confident of winning, or at least not losing.
Spurs need to rediscover the scoring touch
Spurs’ run-in was seen as kinder but now, after back-to-back disappointing results, the pressure is on and they will likely have to beat Arsenal on May 12.
Other than that, the game looming is the trip to Anfield to play against Liverpool on May 7. Liverpool are aiming for a historic quadruple in their battle against Manchester City and likely need to win all of their remaining games to have any chance of winning the league title. Spurs have a poor recent record at Anfield, their last win in 2011.
The home game with Burnley on May 15 could also prove tricky with the Clarets in good form and battling to avoid relegation.
Regardless of the games remaining, the big concern for Spurs is how the team has performed in the last two games. After such a scoreless run (Spurs’ goal difference is +18 to Arsenal’s +12), Spurs failed to register a single shot on target in the loss to Brighton and draw with Brentford .
Manager Antonio Conte must find a way to revive his team in the final month of the season. If he can, Spurs can come into the game with Arsenal with a real chance of securing fourth place with a win.
This is currently Arsenal’s advantage in what appears to be a two-way battle for fourth place between the two arch-rivals. The biggest surprise, however, would be if this was the final twist in the fight.