THE RACE FOR EUROPE TAKES ANOTHER TURN
Earlier in the week, we looked at those teams who are competing for European places within the Premier League and at the time of writing, it would have been fair to exclude Arsenal from any conversation.
A conversation that looked at second place to eighth in the table and concluded that one of those would miss out on a trip to the continent next season. However, one disappointed side may well become two.
While if that is to be the case, then Arsenal may have just thrust themselves into the mix and after their somewhat unexpected win at Chelsea on Wednesday night, a route back to Europe may just have opened for the Gunners.
Admittedly Mikel Arteta’s men are the outsiders looking in, but after Emile Smith Rowe’s winner at Stamford Bridge, Arsenal now find themselves lying 8th in the Premier League and eyeing up local rivals Tottenham.
Of course, one cannot forget Everton in all of this and if they can get the better of Aston Villa this evening at Villa Park, the Toffees will subsequently move into pole position for the upcoming race for 7th.
While ultimately this does mean bad news for Tottenham and although manager Ryan Mason has won two out of the three league games that he has overseen, Saturday’s defeat to Leeds will be of almighty concern.
Concern that needs to be converted into confidence in double quick time, because if the white half of North London cannot get out of a rut that is potentially forming, any hopes of Thursday night football under the lights may dissipate.
Of course, for those fans of Tottenham who have suffered this season, an appearance in the Europa Conference League may just be too much to take and whisper it quietly, those supporters may just be wishing for an 8th or 9th place finish instead.
Because if that is the case, the Premier League becomes an even greater focus next time around and with less in the way of distractions, it could be the catapult that any new Tottenham manager is looking for.
Then again, there is a question as to whether gaming the system really works and although Leicester and Chelsea have pulled off bust and then boom in the past, you do wonder if the Tottenham squad are clever enough to do the same.
Which means, they may not be able to simply dismiss playing in the Europa Conference League next season and especially when precious UEFA co-efficient points will still be made available throughout the tournament.
Even on its most basic level, the last thing Tottenham will want at the end of the campaign, is to be overtaken by a stuttering Arsenal and when you consider Harry Kane and company were top of the table before Christmas, it would only further highlight the downfall that has taken place at N17.
A lot will depend on tonight’s clash at Villa Park but if you were a betting man, you would put your money on Everton to come out on top and if they can achieve such a feat, European football next season will be theirs to lose.