Up there alongside why Theo Walcott earns one hundred and forty thousand pounds a week, the fact that Arsenal is battling to finish in the top four in a season like this has to be one of the biggest mysteries of football.
For a side many tipped to win the title in the ‘absence’ of heavyweights like Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City, the capitulation of Arsenal is astounding. For the fans whose faith is similar to Hulk’s body size, the game against Sunderland was an opportunity for Arsenal to ‘hang in there’ as far as the title race is concerned.
City’s draw against Newcastle United and Arsenal’s triumph over West Bromich Albion in the previous match day looked to have sealed a comfortable Champions League spot for the Gunners and so, the hulk-sized faith fans returned their attention to the title race, hoping and praying that something dramatic happens.
Arsenal traveled to the Stadium of light and returned with just a point. As a result, all hopes of winning the League was smashed as it is now mathematically impossible and their golden top four finish is under serious threat given the fact that Manchester City secured a rather comfortable victory over Stoke City to reclaim their third position albeit on goal difference.
As it stands, Arsenal are in fourth position with five points over fifth-placed Manchester United. The tragedy for Arsenal is that the five points gap could well be reduced to two as the red devils have a game in hand and with their present form, their last three games involving Norwich, Manchester City and Aston Villa looks very tricky.
Arsene Wenger’s biggest achievement for Arsenal in the last decade has been a consistent Champions League qualification regardless of how gloomy the season might have been but this season, it looks like even that might elude him.
For the fans who have decided to stay away from the stadium until Wenger leaves, little was done to convince them at the stadium of light. And for those that likes to defend Wenger, their job just got more difficult.
The management of the club will have to take a dispassionate look at the affairs of the club and make a decision. And by dispassionate, I mean they have to put aside their unending love for money and put the interest of the club and its fans first. This season is a complete disaster.
No Vardy, No problem
The number of articles that followed the suspension of Jamie Vardy after getting a controversial red card in the game against West Ham was more than the combined goals of the MSN for Barcelona. All of them focused on one thing – how Leicester City would cope without the pace, brute and lethal finishing of Jamie Vardy.
Vardy and Mahrez have been at the heart of everything that worked for Leicester City upfront this season and so, the absence of Vardy was expected to create a problem. A problem, ‘slow’ Ulloa might just not be able to solve.
Fast forward to the game against Swansea City, slow Ulloa scored two and Leicester City comfortably took apart Swansea. More than anything, it shows that the club’s success dwells on the collective unit and the sheer desire of the players to win.
Whatever it is Claudio Ranieri has told these boys to get them all fired up like this must be retrieved and stored just in case the day humans will ever have to fight aliens arrive. While it may not guarantee victory, it would sure give us the courage to stand and fight against one-eyed creatures.
The La Liga is coming to an intriguing and tricky end
In the La Liga, only three games matter henceforth, and it is those involving FC Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid. Thanks to Barcelona’s recent poor run, the gap between the three sides has been reduced to just a single point and so, there is zero margin for error.
The queues at the hospital might have shot up today in Madrid as a result of what many suffered at the Vallecas watching Real Madrid against Rayo Vallecano.
Split between securing a win to maintain their decent title challenge and also progress to the final stage of the UEFA Champions League, Zinedine Zidane opted to field a Madrid side with notable omissions such as Sergio Ramos, Carvajal, Luka Modric, Casemiro and Cristiano Ronaldo.
In all honesty, one can hardly blame Zidane for prioritizing the game against City for obvious reasons but 14 minutes into the game, those reasons started to lose weight – faster than Rick Ross as the Spanish giants fell two goals behind.
Alongside Zidane’s cool, they were losing their chance to keep themselves firmly in the title race but at the end of the day, Angel Bale came to the rescue and they escaped with all three points. And a number of dazed fans.
On the other hand, Barcelona continued their rain of goals and Atleti also got a typical one-nil win over Malaga.
It is clear Barcelona still have the advantage given that the Madrid Clubs can not win the title solely on their strength. In addition to winning games, they also need Barca to slip one more time.
Most certainly, in the deepest part of their hearts, the Madrid clubs would be ruing the fact that Barcelona does not have a player named Steven Gerard – the man who knows a thing or two about slipping and losing the League title!
Follow Shina Peter on Twitter – @Shina_Pitta