Importance of Champions League
The race for the top four is not always plain sailing. This day last year Alison Becker scored a header to see Liverpool finish 4th. They are now heading towards the Final in Paris in 2 weeks. For this season if anyone said that Arsenal or Spurs for that matter would finish ahead of Manchester United you would get a strange look.
Arsenal under Arteta were under severe stress in the early stages of the season and were maybe a game or two away from changing their manager. But they stuck rather than twist and Arteta almost pulled off the impossible feat by landing the coveted fourth place. Opportunities like this season with Wolves/West Ham and United all fail to fire come rarely in the Premier League. Just ask Leicester City.
Spurs were a mess early doors with the Kane transfer saga seemingly dragging the club down with it. A turnover of managers seen Nuno Espirito Santos bounce out the door at the first sign of trouble. He was the 5th or 6th choice manager! When Antonio Conte landed the job we expected an improvement but again, nobody would have suggested a 4th place finish!
For Arsenal to finish fourth would have vilified Arteta’s place as manager. It would inject a believe in the clubs with confidence and cashflow. Signing players is easier. It also keeps your current squad happy in their own right. With Pierre Emerick Aubameyang departing for Barcelona as the bad apple of the dressing room it would have stuck two fingers up to everyone who doubted the decision.
Opportunity Missed. Opportunity taken!
Antonio Conte’s men have taken the opportunity that was presented to them. Arsenals defeat tonight means they just need a point versus Norwich and they are into the hat for Europe. When things get to the business end of the season it becomes a mental battle as well as a physical one. Arsenal have fallen at the final hurdle.
It is times like this when you can look around your dressing room and see the characters that will carry the torch and that will drop it. The interview after the game with Granit Xhaka tells a lot about Arsenals issues when he questioned his team mates. The same guy who abandoned his team mates more than once with red cards and was stripped of the captaincy.
Newcastle United were superb and deserved to take all three points but it shows how bad Arsenal were. When it mattered most they couldn’t even open up the Tynesiders once when they had all to play for and Newcastle have one foot on their holidays.
The knock-on Effect
For Spurs this is an incredible transformation. To go from almost losing your most famous player in Harry Kane and changing multiple managers to top four qualification is a superb return. Spurs can now plan ahead for next season with arguably the third best manager in the league on board and ready to strike. They will now almost certainly keep their talisman in Harry Kane and can add some quality to their ranks.
With Chelsea in the middle of selling the club to new owners this is the perfect time for Spurs to strike and make ground on their closest and most deadliest rivals. The added bonus of course is that they will also avoid the Europa League and the dreaded Thursday night football that ensues.
For Arsenal this completely halts the progress of Arteta’s young side. Everything seemed to be coming together with the center back partnership making them look like a real force. It was a huge call to send Aubameyang packing considering the profile and money involved. Now with Lacazette going at the seasons end they will need to replenish their striker without the pull of Europe’s most elite competition.
Conte not having any Spursy
Have Spurs finally found a solution to their case of the Spursy? It seems so. Within a few months of coming on board Conte has shown that he could do what even Mourinho failed to do before him. With some shrewd winter signings he has transformed this side and found a consistency to their play.
Spurs have taken the 4th most points in the Premier League since the turn of the year and this has taken them to their current lofty position. The question is now will Daniel Levy finally open the purse strings and cement their position in the table.
Watching their display at Liverpool last week it shows that this Spurs side have no fear of going away to the toughest of grounds and taking on the opposition. Things are looking up for the London Club with Antonio Conte.
A point will be enough this weekend to ensure what could only be dreamed of going into this season. We watch on with interest.