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The Table of Doom is Over Arsenal Current 81 Max 90 Brighton(h) Man City Max 94 Brighton (a) Gone: Man Utd Max 75 Newcastle Max 77 Brighton Max 70 Man City (h) Arsenal(a) – kept because they play key matches. Liverpool Max 71 Tottenham Max 66 And so my Table of Doom is over. The countdown of those teams that could catch us for a Champions League slot are all gone, having bit the dust early. Will we get 90 points? Maybe. I am hopeful. We are certainly better than our 3 final opponents but that may not translate into wins. Brighton have become an up and down team of late being beaten comfortably by Forest and Everton, both of which may be having their last days at the top table. We have to hope they are up against City and down against us. They are a good side on their day. Will Jurgen Klopp stay as Liverpool manager? Anyway I will discontinue this slot until next season as you all know who we will play, who City will play, and all the permutations. The only surprise will be if we win the championship without winning all our last 3 matches, I think we can all agree on that. City will now have another mind-bending game against Real and that might take its toll. We can only hope. Look what losing to them did to Liverpool in the final last year. They were rubbish for most of the season. We have hope. So bye bye Table of Doom. Who will be the top four next season? Today, I am going to take a strange tack and look at next season and who will be up against us. I am going to say from the bat that I expect us and City to be top four leaving only 2 places to play for. We assume Liverpool, Man Utd, Chelsea and the Spuds are contenders even though 3 of those may not play Champions league next season. That could be an advantage for them as they may not be in Europe at all like Chelsea or in one of the minor European trophies. They can play fringe players in these. They all have big income streams from many years at the top, bigger than the rest of the league and so have a natural advantage. Can we now expect Newcastle as well? I am not so sure. Champions league will play its toll assuming they get there. They, despite having some super players and a great manager combined with big pockets, might do a bit of a Leicester and go down a bit next time. They didn’t have Europe this year. They need to buy top players because some of these guys, like Dan Burns and our own Joe Willock, are not quite of the calibre they need as first choice if they are to battle on 2 big fronts. Sponsorship and merchandising income is still a lot smaller than the established sides although they do have an attendance capacity of almost 53,000. Their money plus their overall structure means they have a good chance of getting into the big boys club. Into the Big Boys Club So who else can we look at based on this season? Brighton for sure. They still have an outside chance of Champions league but that will surely stretch them. They may go back a bit and they may lose top players but they seem adept at producing young players and buying in superb ones. However a top attendance of less than 32,000 and without the ability to attract the sponsorship deals and marketing of merchandise of the more attractive clubs, combined with a rich, but not as rich as the top clubs, owner, means it will be really hard for them to truly compete at the highest level. Unai Emery could chase a Champions league slot next season Aston Villa, under Unai Emery, have been the real surprise packet of the season. Sprinting up the table with league winning form when under Steven Gerrard they were in relegation trouble, it has been astonishing how Emery has transformed them. They have a ground capacity of almost 43,000 and incredibly rich owners. They would have pretty good merchandise sales and sponsorship, although not like the big boys. They could jump up and take a slot very easily. Even this season, with a maximum of 63 points, they could be in Europe. Unai Emery seems to be at his best with an emerging side and I believe they will be a threat. Who else is there? Brentford's new stadium still only holds 17,250 Brentford? I think Champions league is beyond them. They have a good team with a potentially great manager but low revenue from merchandise, sponsorship and attendances. 17,250 is not going to get you Champions league. Their owner is only worth 20M pounds and that is a pittance by today’s standards. Lose Thomas Frank to a big team and they could suffer from 3rd season malaise and even get relegated. If they keep him and their best players they could still do well. But I am putting them out of contention for Champions league. Matthew Benham - probably the poorest Premier league owner Fulham? They could well surprise again. Marco Silva has done wonders with them and they have a multi-billionaire owner. Shahid Khan is surely a serious contender with big plans otherwise why Fulham? Lower income streams and attendance at 22,238 is far less than the big boys, though it will be brought up to 29,600 for next season. I feel they would need a long-term project and a much bigger ground to get up there but that should be his plan. No Champions league for them next season, I predict. But I feel they will make strides and 5th or 6th may not be beyond them. Fulham's new stadium will only get them to 29,600 The Dark horses and the Shambles For me the 2 dark horses may be Wolves, and Notts Forest (if they stay up). Both sides have had some terrific performances this year. Wolves 3-0 vs Liverpool being one standout. Forest drew with City and beat Liverpool and Brighton. Both sides big disadvantage is that their grounds are around 30,00 capacity. The astonishing Chelsea collapse The other factor is the shambles of Man Utd (at times), Liverpool, Spurs and incredibly, Chelsea. Can they turn themselves around? I think it is possible Jurgen Klopp may resign if he does badly in his last 3 games. Even if not, he may decide to go for a new challenge. I am not sure what will happen to them if he does go. They are a big side to manage and they will need a big manager and there are not many out there. The Spuds will be in the hunt for one as will Chelsea. All 4 may well not make Champions league next season but I do feel that Ten Hag is a good manager. As long as he gets Champions league this season he is safe unless the potential new owners think differently. They are my strongest tip of the four above. Chelsea and Spurs seem to have a lot to sort out to really challenge. So who am I going to predict? Arsenal number one, Man City number two, Man Utd number three and yes, Aston Villa in fourth. Unai Emery has a great record in pushing Real Madrid and Barcelona from the much lower base of Sevilla, Valencia and Villareal. He likes being with the underdogs. And hey, you read it here first. You can also bash me over the head for getting it badly wrong. Don’t bash me too hard, though.
What’s the worst that can happen? Arsenal 99 Liverpool(a) Man City(a) Newcastle (a) Brighton(h) Man City 94 Liverpool (h) Brighton (a) Arsenal (h) Man Utd 86 Brighton(a) Newcastle(a) Tottenham(a) Newcastle 83 Man Utd(h) Tottenham(h) Arsenal(h) Tottenham 81 Brighton(h) Newcastle(a) Man Utd(h) Liverpool (a) Brighton 81 Man Utd(h) Tottenham(a) Man City(h) Arsenal(a) Liverpool 78 Man City(a) Arsenal(h) Tottenham(h) The above is the league table at the end of the season with the maximum points for each team plus their games against the top seven. I will make a prediction, if we win all our matches to the end of the season, we will win the league and Europa league. Wow, Gus, you are brilliant. How do you know such things? It’s because I am a genius. Well no, it’s because I can do basic maths. Let’s say we have a bad end to the season, dropping points and going all Spursy, how bad can it get? Not so bad really. I am going to concentrate on the league and see whether we can relax, at least as far as Champions league is concerned. I have decided that I need to go down as far as Brighton for potential CL slots. So I have put together a bad hypothetical situation for us and that is relegation form and 11 points from 11 draws for 77 or 7 losses and only 4 wins for 78. We currently have 66 from 27 games which should be enough for CL. In reality, looking at the maximum points as I have below I reckon in or around 70 will be good enough this year. I have calculated each teams points total based on them getting the same amount of average points they have got so far. Are the contenders good enough? The wrong blue and whites Brighton are in 7th with 39 points and 24 games. They can get 81 if they win all but do have to play 4 of the current top 7 including ourselves. Based on results so far they will get 62. They won’t come near us as they are bound to drop points. We play them at home in our 3rd last match and a win for us there will for sure mean they have no chance. They probably won’t see near 70 points which they would need. I would say around 60 is what they will get. So Brighton out. Liverpool have an even tougher job to do as the maximum they can get is 78 if they win all. We play them on April 9th away and a win or a draw knocks them out. They surely have no real chance of finishing above us. You will not walk into Champions League Liverpool have City away and us and the Spuds at home. Drop points there and CL might be very difficult for them. Make no mistake, mighty Liverpool, the mentality monsters, will need most of that 78 points to get Champions league. I don’t think they will do it. And if we beat them it will be even more difficult. They may well make 68 or so points if they start being consistent. A repeat of their current form gives them a maximum of 62. Liverpool out. Not a black and white year Newcastle can get 83 and they play us, Man Utd and the Spuds. They play all at home and may well garner some points but of course, if they do they make it harder for other teams to catch us. If we beat them we stop them getting near us. They seem to be finding it more tricky as time goes on and I believe they will struggle to secure CL. And only a disaster would see them finishing in front of us. A repeat of their current form would give them 67 and that’s what I am going to say 67 points and a battle with the Spuds for 4th place which they don’t quite make. Newcastle out. A Spursy year? They always are And now I am in the current top four and the marvellous Spuds who unfortunately get battered everywhere they go. They can muster 81 points. They play four teams, Brighton at home, Newcastle away, Man Utd at home and Liverpool away and those matches are almost one after the other. Conte would need them to be at their best but even that will see them dropping points, they are Totteringham after all. Still if they get some points they will do us good, particularly if we happen to have this bad spell I am talking about. They may well get in though as the teams below them have stuttered. A repeat of their current form to date gives them 68 but maybe 70 points if they have a non Spursy end to the season. Spurs in, but not above us. 4th At least they got one trophy Manchester United can get 86. They play Brighton, Newcastle and the Spuds away. The Spuds can do us a favour. C’mon the Spuds Those 3 matches alone will be hard, not to mention that points are very spread out in the league this year. To prove my point, Southampton are bottom on 22 and 26 games but win all and they have 58 and pushing for Europa league. Getting back to United, they should get above 70, a repeat of their current form gives them 73. Most likely 73 to 75. Man Utd 3rd Man City can get 94. If they do I feel they will win the league. They play Liverpool at home, Brighton away and us at home, all matches close together. We need them to drop points as the above disaster scenario for us would see them jump right over us. Beat them and it would be a great boost. And we will for sure be Liverpool and Brighton fans for the day. If they repeat their current form they will get 86. I expect somewhere around 86 to 90 may be their final tally. I will plump for 87. Remember if we beat them they have to win all their matches to get 91. We can lose 2 and draw one in that scenario. One monster left in our way We don't want a blue and white year Man City 2nd but first if we have the disaster situation or even stutter somewhat. We can outgun them all That leaves us. We can get 99 and, like I said above, a maths wizard such as myself will tell you confidently we will win the league if we get such a tally. We play Liverpool, Man City and Newcastle away and Brighton at home. We will need to gather points for sure. If I am right we will need at least 87 to overcome City. We will get 93 if we continue our current form. We can do it, we are the Arsenal. However, if it all goes wrong and disaster does strike us, we should still have enough to make Champions League. And we can afford a little stumble if I am right, we can drop maybe 10 points and still win the league. The teams below us would have to almost win all, and they are all playing each other which means they have to drop points. Even a bad spell now will see us in Champions League. We do have a great chance. 11 matches to prove we are the Arsenal, the team that sends others home crying. Gary Neville, are you listening? If we hold our nerve, we can do it. I believe we will. And I am hoping that Arsene Wenger will attend to see it. It would be astounding to hear our fans singing about Wenger and Arteta, master and apprentice turned master.