Monday, March 16, 2009
Arsenal and Aston Villa jockey for fourth
As interesting as Liverpool presumes it has made the race for first, or perhaps as Manchester United deigns to flatter them, the race for the fourth and final Champions League spot in the Premier League is just as compelling. With Aston Villa off to a great start, and Arsenal stumbling with inconsistency, the Gunners hold a slight edge over the Villans by virtue of seven goals. Yes, seven goals are a considerable amount, but this can be undone so easily with one or two bad results.
Arsenal's remaining fixtures are arguably more challenging than Aston Villa's. Given the Gunners' tendency to drop points against mid-table teams and below, is this an advantage for Arsenal? Captain Cesc Fabregas is due for a return on April 4 against Manchester City if nothing goes wrong between now and then.
Villans should be thankful that they're not in the UEFA Cup anymore. Arsenal, through to the last eight of the Champions League will return to European action the week of April 7, before they visit Anfield. If the Gunners manage to get through to the semifinals, they face Chelsea at the Emirates after their fate in Europe this year is determined.
Remaining Premier League fixtures:
Aston Villa - Liverpool (A), Manchester United (A), Everton, West Ham, Bolton (A), Hull, Fulham (A), Middlesbrough (A), Newcastle
Arsenal - Newcastle (A), Manchester City, Wigan (A), Liverpool (A), Middlesbrough, Portsmouth (A), Chelsea, Manchester United (A), Stoke