I believe the 2018/19 Premier League season is a sign of things to come… With one match to play and so many positions still in contention -including top of the log – it is a sign of the growing competitiveness in the top European football leagues, and in particular the English League, with its vast riches.
On their day, any one of the relegation-threatened teams can take the scalp of a Top 6 club, home or away. There are no certainties – as the season run-in has proved for the 4 teams battling for the remaining two Champions League spots. Tottenham, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United have produced a number of shocking performances against ‘lesser’ sides in the past month: it looked like they were fighting for 6th place, rather than 3rd.
One of the most interesting statistics to be gleaned from the current table is found in the “L” column (Games Lost):
Tottenham have lost 13 games this season (six in their last ten) – that’s more than 30% of their games! Despite that, they are still likely to end above their fierce rivals, Arsenal, who lost 10 games (four in their last six). To put that in perspective, Arsenal lost 13 games in the 2017/18 season – their worst finish under Wenger – ending in 6th position. Tottenham lost 7 and ended 3rd.
Apart from the ‘expected’ losses to near rivals, Tottenham have lost to Burnley A, Southampton A, West Ham H and Bournemouth A. Arsenal have suffered defeats to Southampton A, West Ham A, Everton A, Palace H, Wolves A and Leicester A. Spurs could point to the periods where they were without their talisman, Harry Kane – but the truth is that they performed better without him! Arsenal’s injuries have seemed to have impacted them more – particularly the absence of Aaron Ramsey for most of the season seems to have had a more tangible negative impact.
Renowned statistical projections website fivethirtyeight.com predicts that the current standings will essentially be maintained after the last ten matches are played on Sunday May 12th. (Not sure how Spurs are able to end up on 72 points – there are no 2-point games! – but it is a US-based website, so…)
Of course – there is still a chance (<1%) that Arsenal could grab that coveted fourth spot – if they win their last game against Burnley A (41% chance) AND Tottenham lose to Everton H (25% chance). Oh – and there is the small matter of the 8 goal Goal Difference: not likely, but theoretically possible. If you think that you can beat the odds, then head over to Free Bets UK and claim your free bet credits – remember to bet responsibly, though!
Arsenal have another route to Champions League football next season – if they beat Valencia on Thursday, they will be in the Europa League Final – with Chelsea their likely opponents.
Although fivethirtyeight.com gives Arsenal a higher chance of making the Final, at this stage they predict Chelsea to be Champions of Europe’s Elite Second Division. If they are right – it means Arsenal would be resigned to playing another year of Europa League, and possibly falling behind further in their attempt to keep up with Liverpool and Manchester City.
Schadenfreudian Gooners will be happy to know that Tottenham are only given a 25% chance of beating Ajax and making it to the CL Final, and a 7% chance of actually being crowned European Champions. (Liverpool has a 69% chance of taking top honours. Caveat: fivethirtyeight.com gave Liverpool a 7% chance of beating Barcelona to make it to the Final. It seems Liverpool didn’t get that memo!)
If Arsenal can win the Europa League, thereby killing two birds with one stone: qualifying for Champions League AND winning a (European) trophy – then one might argue that their first season under Emery was a success, despite having a new manager, and a team that most agree is one of the weakest in Arsenal’s recent history.
Tottenham, however, with their shiny new stadium, their media-adored manager, and their oft-praised team, will walk away from this season wondering what their future holds, as they once again finish trophy-less, having to pre-qualify for the Champions League 2020 group stage, and with their noses barely ahead of Arsenal.
The next few days have lots to reveal.
What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
I was eleven-and-a-half. My family had just emigrated from Rhodesia to South Africa. All the kids on my street supported United or Liverpool, because of their Southern African goalkeeper connections: Bailey for United and Grobbelaar for ‘Pool. Problem was: I didn’t like the colour red – so when FA Cup Final day came around in 1979, I supported the team in yellow, even though their name sounded like “Asshole”. At the final whistle, I had bragging rights and a team that had won my heart.
Then I discovered that the Gunners also wore red. Luckily, I remained loyal, and the Arsenal has kicked my heart around ever since… (apart from a few lost years in the ’90s and early ’00s, when I was busy doing grownup things as a composer in Hollywood).
Abandoned invinciblog.com to launch this site with 1 Nil Down 2 One Up blogfather Dave Seager – and we have used this platform to help launch the writing careers of a number of amazing Arsenal bloggers.