It is easy for Arsenal supporters to get carried away and be talking openly about next season’s Champions League, but when you look at the remaining fixtures fourth spot is not guaranteed quite yet.
This weekend’s away-day fixture against Queens Park Rangers represents another must-win Premier League game for Arsenal with a host of troublesome remaining fixtures to come.
Arsène Wenger won’t want to rely on getting something out of tricky games against Chelsea and Manchester City at The Emirates, while away trips to Wolverhampton Wanderers, Stoke City and West Bromich Albion are far from easy.
There are 24 points left to play for this season and Arsenal have a winnable six against Wigan Athletic and Norwich City at home – but to finish third the Gunners will likely need 19 in total and so where the other 10 are coming from is not certain.
The room for dropping points is considerably smaller than in previous years because Arsenal lost so many at the start of the season and then again at the turn of the year.
So to keep the pressure on Tottenham and Chelsea, three points against QPR this weekend is an absolute must, followed by avoiding defeat against Manchester City.
If Arsenal can do that and pick up 13 points from their next five games, Champions League football will be all but be confirmed for next season.
There’s a belief and a hunger about this Arsenal side at present and long may that continue.
But the Gunners shouldn’t be thinking about taking their foot off the gas anytime soon as Tottenham in particular have a favourable run of fixtures to conclude the season.
With just one league win since January, could it be that Aston Villa are the Premier League side who sink like a stone this season and find themselves in a relegation battle?
Alex McLeish has already shown his relegation credentials with cross-city rivals Birmingham City, dragging the Blues down to the Championship twice in his four-year tenure and Villa couldn’t win a point at the moment if it was staring them in the face.
At the Emirates on Saturday they were limp and with injuries mounting up – Charles N’Zogbia is now out for a month – Villa could be the ones to go into free-fall and possibly terminal decline.
Last year it was Blackpool – albeit the writing was already on the wall at this stage – while Hull City just narrowly avoided relegation in their first year up with a similarly dismal run.
Villa appear safe upon looking at the table – their 15th with 33 points and eight ahead of the bottom three with a game in hand but they still need a couple of wins from their remaining nine matches that include trips to Anfield and Old Trafford.
Had it not been for their gritty victory over Wolves at the weekend, it could well have been Norwich who plummeted but it now looks most likely to be Villa are in for an uncomfortable end to the season.
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