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The Table of Doom returns Can anyone take this away from the Citizens? Table of Doom Fixtures Current Max Liverpool Man City (h) Spurs (h) Villa (a) 51 96 Man City Liverpool (a) Arsenal (h) Villa (h) Spurs (h) 49 97 Arsenal Man City (a) Villa (h) Spurs (a) 49 94 Villa Spurs (a) Man City (a) Arsenal (a) Liverpool (a) 46 91 Spurs Villa (h) Man City(a) Arsenal (h) Liverpool (a) 44 89 And so the Table of Doom returns in a much tighter scenario than last year and, while last year I was counting down from Arsenal, now we are looking at Liverpool. I have decided that only these five can win the league as I believe 86 points is the target this year so we are left with these teams. Manchester United, the best of the rest can only get 83 points. Only Liverpool and City can win by winning all their matches, as ourselves, Villa and Spurs need the top 2 to drop points. However, they will, as I can’t see any team winning all until the end. Whoever can put the strongest run together will win it. Klopp's team are in the strongest position - or are they? As before, any team that cannot reach the leader drops out and I will update weekly. Once again, if I make any mistake in my calculations please let me know, as one generous reader did last year. The great thing about a blog is that I can update straightaway. Five for five I am pretty certain that the Champions League chase will be these five as well, barring a collapse and a lower team making a late run. There could be five places this year as well so Arsenal are looking very good. Liverpool have crucial matches close to the end and they could be the decisive factor. Man City have almost all home games and they are really good at home. I will put City favourites based on past experience. Villa have all away and that might be important also as they have not been great on their travels. They have earned the right to be favourites In my previous blog here I speculated that around 86 points should be enough this year which gives City and Liverpool a bit more scope than the rest. We can afford to lose 8 points from 15 matches and 45 points. A tough ask as the 2 and 3 points extra for Liverpool and City mean they can maybe lose 3 matches but we can only lose 2. Away to City could be a huge game for us if we are still in it. We must put away the little teams Now I will turn my attention to the Champions League. Last year 68 points was enough as Liverpool in 5th had 67. and I am going for it again. Arsenal need 19 points out of 45 and that would be a collapse, little above relegation form. As long as we put away the little teams we will make it comfortably. Man U, Newcastle and Chelsea falling apart has meant that the Champions League struggle looks easier this year. Man Utd, West Ham, Brighton and Newcastle in the next 4 positions are, I feel, the only teams capable of pushing for top four. If five places are available then it could be tighter as maybe Villa or Spurs could collapse leaving a space for one of these to run into. Can Arteta finally become The Man? Truly, I don’t feel that Villa or the Spuds will do so. Man Utd are the closest at six points behind Tottenham but they have to play all the big teams, go on a long winning run and a collapse of one of the top five to get there. I doubt it, judging by their form. Will the new rules help? As for the rest, they need to find consistency, they have all got tough matches to negotiate and produce a level that they haven’t so far, and clawback a lot of points. It is hard to see that happening. The only conclusion is that the top five will be the top five, and the only doubts are the positions and how many places are available. Either Arsenal and City could win the Champions League but it won’t open up a fifth space as they will qualify through the Premiership. However, it might be enough for England to qualify under the new rules if Arsenal and City go far in the tournament or the other English teams do well in the other trophies. A European Cup winner could finally make it back onto the big stage Bizarrely, though, there could be 5 places and they are already won as none of the rest seem to be capable of a sustained run. Possibly 5 Champions league spots and only 5 teams really challenging for them. A bit of a joke, really. City never wobble? So, back to the Premier League. Arsenal and Liverpool only play 3 of the others, the rest play four. Could that be significant? City seem to have the best position as they play almost all at home and they usually win there. Villa, by contrast, have 4 away and that might be tricky as they are struggling a bit away. The Spuds have 2 home and 2 away but the 2 away are City and Liverpool. I will be surprised if the Spuds and Villa can keep their momentum going to such an extent that they win the league. Most likely they will drop away a little. But I suspect that they will take positions 4 and 5. Two tough away games for the Spuds Liverpool have won a lot of matches this season without being all that impressive too often. It is credit to their fighting spirit and appreciation of what it takes to be winners that they have ground out enough wins to leave them top. For a team that is obviously in transition they have done extremely well but that, and Klopp leaving, may mean that Arsenal can overtake them. Arsenal to become tough boys? And the big boys? City? If they win their game in hand they will go top and they don’t normally surrender the league. If Rodri, De Bruyne and Haaland stay fit, they do look the best team in it. They haven’t always looked at their frightening best this season and they have dropped 17 points so far. They will need to improve on that to claim the title. But Arsenal have dropped 20 so we need to improve even more than them. And, while I feel like a broken record mentioning this, we have not had a strong end to the season under Arteta. I one hundred percent guarantee that we must have a very strong finish this season to win the league. 37 points out of a possible 45 is a tough ask. We could lose that on our 3 matches against our top five rivals let alone on the other 12 matches. We had 54 points at this stage last season. We dropped 15 points from our last 15 matches to get 84. I have spelled out what we have to do to win the league. We must have steel in our backs, a streetfighters capacity, and some luck to go our way. Can we win the Table of Boom? And yes, I am aware that my target of 86 points to win the league and 68 to qualify for the Champions League could be out. I will be very surprised if I am far out, though. Both targets may be higher or lower. The only thing I feel we can be confident about is the Champions League qualification. That is within our grasp even with an average end to the season. Can Arteta fulfill all my dreams at Wembley? And the two big prizes we are still in? For the Champions League we may need only to be really good in 4 matches, 3 of the legs and the final. That would do me. Wembley would be a great place to win. I would call Wembley the Table of Boom for us even if we don’t really come close to winning the league. Topping the Table of Boom would make me so happy.
Thrashings are good for you? He came back from this one So Manchester United get a true hammering against Liverpool but what will it all mean? Maybe very little other than a song for the Scousers to sing every time they get to play the Red Sevens as maybe they should now be called. I would still put a good wager on them finishing above Liverpool in the league. I am also confident that they will get that Champions League spot that may elude the Merseysiders. Why so? Because they have had quite a few humiliating defeats even this season and bounced back. This time Brighton 2-1, Brentford 4-0, Manchester City 6-3 and lowly Aston Villa 3-1 gave them defeats they weren’t expecting. They still put together a run that gives them a chance at the title. Mikel Arteta’s team were destroyed by Everton 5-1 at the end of last season plus 5-0 to City and 4-0 to Liverpool. Not to mention being beaten by Brentford. Where are we now? You can sing it if you like. I decided to take a look at high or bad defeats for the Arsenal to see how they affected us. I went back in time to George Graham but could only find 6-2 to Man Utd in the league Cup 28/11/1990 as a true thrashing. George got a heart attack if we conceded goals but he still threw that defeat off to win the league that season. Arsene Wenger the boomerang Arsene Wenger was with us a record length of time and accumulated quite a few whippings. All very painful and generally against big rivals. But we bounced back, didn’t we? Wenger was beaten 4-0 away by Liverpool on the 6/5 1998 but it didn’t stop us winning the league and cup that season. George Graham - with his hand on the ball you know what matters He was tonked by Chelsea next season in the League cup 5-0 but we came second in the Premiership, nicely above them. The fans were hurting badly after these defeats but our team came back from it all the same. On the 25/2/2001 Man Utd gave us that horrible pounding of 6-1 but we were unbeaten in our next six. We finished 2nd and did well till the end of the season. The end of the season is all that matters Next season Blackburn beat us 4-0 in the League cup but we won the league. Wenger and Arsenal had the resilience to shrug off bad defeats. We didn’t have another real trouncing until 2008 when the Spuds beat us 5-1 in the League cup. But what did we do? Came a close 3rd in the league with 83 points, nicely in the Champions league and the hapless Spuds? 11th! Yes, you read that right. They would take being beaten by us any season if they qualified for the Champions league and we didn’t because that is what really matters. Man Utd fans will feel the same about Liverpool if that happens this year. They also beat us 4-0 in the FA cup that season. Our 2 biggest rivals beat us in one season but we are the Arsenal. We always survive. He never let his head drop for long Of course on the 28/11/2011 came the worst defeat I can remember. 8-2 to Man Utd. We were devastated but probably Wenger said to his team, when he calmed down, you went to Old Trafford and scored 2 goals, we haven’t done that too often. We shrugged off that defeat to come 3rd, Utd only came second despite destroying us and we finished above the Spuds in 4th. Man Utd would love to come second this year and they might yet. They will probably come 3rd, though. Beaten by three giants in the Champions League AC Milan beat us 4-0 at the San Siro in the Champions League that season but we nearly came back at home winning 3-0. The ability to throw off a bad defeat is necessary for a good team. In 2014 Liverpool hammered us 5-1 and Chelsea 6-0 but we won the FA cup and qualified for the Champions League. 2 heavy defeats to big rivals and we still had something to cheer about at the end of the season. We are always winners Bayern Munich gave us three 5-1 defeats in the Champions League including a really bad one at home. The first one in 2015 didn’t stop us making it through to the knock out stages where we were beaten by the superb Barcelona. And we did beat Bayern at home 2-0 plus we came came second in the league, our top finish in some time. We knocked Aston Villa over 4-0 in the FA cup final to round off a pretty good season in the end. A hard time for sure The next 2 in 2017 were really hard to take. Last 16 in the Champions League and we were right with them in both first halves. They obliterated us in the second both times. 10-2 over the tie. Bayern, what are you doing to us? But we beat Chelsea in the FA cup final, and finished with five wins in a row to lose out closely to Liverpool for the final Champions League spot with 75 points to their 76. I would take defeat for ultimate victory So, the Arsenal way of losing badly is to come back, to not let it define their season. Mikel Arteta has shown us he knows how to lose the Arsenal way as those defeats last year have shown. Yes, the fans heads were on the floor but he knew he had a special squad of players. It is his job to lift them and us. He has done that. Being knocked out of both cups and being quite average against weaker teams in the Europa League on top of defeats away to Everton and Man Utd plus City at home, and away in the League Cup emphasizes that it has been a hard slog this season. We could still win 2 trophies and, amazingly, I would take being beaten at Man City 7-0 in our next game against them if we go on to win the league. What good would a 7-0 do them then? Let them sing what they bloody like, we would be the Champions. Will Man Utd let it destroy them? So it seems that thrashings are not necessarily bad for you. We can accept our corporal punishment as long as we are top of the class come May. And Man Utd? We will see what they are made of now.