The race for Europe’s elite competition

With Chelsea defending their way into the Champions League Final against Barcelona, it’s thrown open a potentially heart breaking sprint for four teams to cross the finishing line and even then, only one team may find themselves guaranteed to play in the highest echelons of European football based on league position.

Arsenal are currently sitting in the last guaranteed position for Champions League football for next season based on an assumption that Chelsea may win in the Champions League final later next month.

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If Wenger sees the incident, then it means he’s looking over his shoulder at a resurgent and formidable Newcastle sitting just behind them, a sinking, stuttering Tottenham and a Chelsea team who may or may not have to finish in fourth place to join Europe’s elite in battle.

Though Arsenal have been in great form since the turn of 2012 and have rocketed ahead of arch-rivals Spurs, they have on paper a potentially difficult run in with the likes of Stoke away, Norwich at home and finishing off with West Brom away. Stoke haven’t been an easy team for Arsenal to brush aside in the past and Norwich have pulled out some stunning results this season against teams many fancied they’d struggle to contain.  West Brom could be a banana skin on the last day of the season as Newcastle fans can well remember throwing away a three goal lead last season.

Newcastle have been in the top seven of the table pretty much since the season began and whilst many expected a plummet, they have defied pundits alike with a strong run to the start of the season and are finishing strongly despite a mid-season blip. In a season that many supporters could only have dreamt of at the start, Europe is beckoning but the season could still end in slight disappointment if the Champions League is missed and the slightly less lauded Europa becomes the competition they enter.

Pardew has seen his team through a strong six game winning streak that has enabled them to jump above Chelsea and Spurs but he’s looking both directions, sitting behind Arsenal by three points yet having a game in hand to move level and keeping an eye on Tottenham and Chelsea who sit three and four points behind respectively on the same total of games played.

The run in includes Wigan, who are fighting to avoid the drop and have managed a good run of form that has taken them out of the relegation zone, followed by three tough matches against game laden Chelsea, title chasing Man City and finishing with the ever tough Everton who always seem to finish a season strongly.

Spurs were seemingly nailed on for a top three finish and perhaps a title challenge before February 2012. Spurs have been in terrible form since hammering Newcastle 5-0 in February which may have been the catalyst for Newcastle to spur on and move up the table. Seeing arch-rivals Arsenal move above them and losing heavily in an FA Cup semi-final seems to have derailed Spurs efforts to finish top four.

Being one of the most out of form teams in the table at present then who can predict the outcomes of playing Blackburn at home, Bolton away, Villa away and then a London derby of Fulham at home to end the season. While generic viagra online‎ Spurs have lost the winning mentality they face three teams at the bottom end of the table fighting for their lives. Redknapp admitted that he needs to win all four and take maximum points but form suggests that that is a tall order.

DiMatteo took on the unenviable task of trying to recover Chelsea’s sub-par season and has turned the team around and brought back winning ways. Whilst the team may not play with swagger and verve as Roman wants, the results to date mean an FA Cup Final and the Champions League Final. Whilst winning the Champions League Final would ensure further participation in the tournament next season, it’s far from certain that it’s guaranteed.

Abramovich wants Champions League. Anything else is deemed a failure and therefore Chelsea are under pressure to finish fourth to ensure they are there again and this causes additional issues as Chelsea have a cornucopia of matches to fit in before the season ends.

Home to nearest and dearest QPR, home to fourth place contenders Newcastle, Liverpool in the FA Cup, and then a few days later away at Anfield before finishing the league with Blackburn at home.

Finally, Chelsea take on either Bayern or Real in Munich on the 19th of May and that game will have massive repercussions for the fourth place league finisher.

In essence, it’s all to play for, for the four teams but, in the end, it may all be pointless.

Best of luck to all supporters but in a truly biased manner: Come on Newcastle!!

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