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The Rest Of The Season

We take a peek at the fixture list for the three teams fighting for the last two Champions League spots, and in a Farnsworthian voice, say "Good News, Everybody"! But unlike the good professor, we mean it.

Jamie McDonald

Here's how the world stands today, Premier League table-wise. Arsenal are currently fifth, with 53 points. They're two points behind Chelsea, and four points behind Pigeon Badge FC, with a game in hand over the latter - Arsenal have eight games left to play, 24 points to gain. I thought I'd take a look at the run-ins for each team, starting with the neighbors.

PBFC, of course, have Europa League fixtures to deal with, tomorrow and next Thursday against Basle. Sandwiched in between those games is a home tie against Everton, which even for an in-form side like PBFC will be tricky - Everton are only two points behind Arsenal and while I don't see them overtaking the three main contenders, they've got a European place of their own to play for and David Moyes is certainly not going to take this game lightly. Probably the trickiest tie other than that on their calendar is a yet-to-be-rescheduled-as-of-this-writing match against Chelsea, postponed as a result of Chelsea's win over Manchester United in the FA Cup quarterfinals.

Other than that, the calendar is pretty favorable for them - Southampton and Sunderland at home, Wigan and Stoke away. And with the form they're in right now, it's not inconceivable they could win enough to keep them in the top four. But it's PBFC, so they probably won't.

Chelsea, now, there's a real big fat mess. Rafa Benitez has gone all in on the FA Cup since the league is out of reach, and with their continued success in the Europa League, Chelsea have the unenviable yet awesome-for-Arsenal-fans task of playing five games in the next 13 days; the league is their easiest task there, with games against Sunderland at the Bridge and Fulham at Craven Cottage sandwiched in between two legs with Rubin Kazan and an FA Cup semi with Manchester City. By the 17th, Chelsea will either be triumphant in the Cups and not bothered about the league, or destroyed and exhausted in all competitions.

Once they clear that stretch, it doesn't get a whole lot easier, with Liverpool, Swansea, and Manchester United next up. They close against Aston Villa and Everton, but by then their fate should be determined; they are the most likely to drop out of the TOP FOUR BIG CLUB CLUB of anybody, I think.

Now we get to our intrepid heroes. As mentioned, eight games to play, and the lack of any Cup involvement means a rational schedule; the game in hand is Everton on the 16th, but otherwise it's a nice leisurely one-game-a-week stroll through the likes of WBA, Norwich, Fulham, QPR, Wigan, and Newcastle, with only that Everton match and Manchester United on the 28th posing a really tricky test.

On the surface, then, Arsenal seem to have the easiest run-in of any team contending for the CL. On the other hand, we all know Arsenal can Arsenal it up at any time, so if ever there was a time for Arsenal's defensive woes to stay away, it's now. The goal is easily within reach for Arsenal, the fixture list couldn't be kinder; I am not a target-setting person for things I can't control, but I think Arsenal should be shooting for 20-21 points out of the rest of the season. It's doable, so...go do it.