Wednesday, 14 March 2012

mind the gap: why arsenal WILL finish third.

before arsenal and tottenham met in the north london derby two and a half weeks ago, the gap between the two sides was ten points: tottenham apparently competing for the title and arsenal in relatively poor form - in competition with chelsea, liverpool and newcastle for the prize of fourth place, the final champions league place. now, on the 14th march there is now only one point separating arsenal & spurs: a dramatic 92nd minute winner from thomas vermaelen against newcastle earned the gunners a well deserved three points against newcastle at the emirates, the centre back steaming into the penalty area from the half way line to score a close-range effort past the despairing tim krul. isn't life krul sometimes?

three reasons why arsenal will be in the champions league next season and ultimately beat tottenham in the race for third:

1. the importance of momentum and confidence

three consecutive league defeats for tottenham with arsenal winning their last four premier league games after going 1-0 down proves the gunner hsave a new found resilience: as tottenham's confidence is at an all time low, there's genuine belief amongst arsenal fans that champions league will be back at the emirates next season. it takes the extreme mental strength, often discussed by arsene wenger, to recover from such a disastrous start to the season, when a few months ago, it looked as if arsenal would struggle to get fourth place - let alone third! it would be considered one of arsene wenger's greatest achievements at arsenal if we were to finish third, after a real rollercoaster of a season (so far!)

2. focus

arsenal have a settled, happy, talented squad led by a manager who appears to be going nowhere - the same cannot said be tottenham however. harry redknapp is still the favourite for the england job and despite claims from the tottenham players, its hard to believe this speculation wouldn't affect the players.

3. robin van persie, he scores he wants

to say this man is in exceptional form is no exaggeration, no need for hyperbole: robin van persie is on fire. the equaliser against newcastle bought up his 33rd goal of the season, 26th in the premier league and as expected, this has meant van persie is hot property, now attracting interest from the likes of barcelona and moneybags manchester city, knowing rvp is still to sign a contract extension at the emirates. with champions league football looking likely and with the promise of more quality signings in the summer, why would van persie leave? this man is a great player, a great leader but an even better man - a settled, loyal family man who surely wouldn't want to leave london and specifically the emirates, a place where he is worshipped and adored. when cesc fabregas and samir moved in the summer, it was a massive loss to the arsenal side but if arsenal were to lose van persie, i believe the result would be catastrophe. arsenal have been a 'one man' team this year but it does not always have to be that way - we are just two or three class players away from a GREAT side: one which will compete for titles week in, week out.