Chelsea might be still recovering from being dragged all over the Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night before securing a slender 1-0 lead over Barcelona but they have further good news to celebrate, as do Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur.
Arsenal have been imperious pretty much ever since they sunk to 15th in the table after defeat at White Hart Lane in October, and heading into Monday’s match with Wigan, they would have been aware that victory would have meant third was all but theirs.
But the Gunners’ propensity to shoot themselves in the foot, dormant since autumn, reared its head again and Arsenal fans found themselves studying the league table once again.
Arsenal remain five points above Tottenham and Newcastle, and seven ahead of Chelsea, but all three have a game in hand and next up at the Emirates on Saturday are Barça’s conquerors.
The gap to Spurs, Newcastle and Chelsea could well be two, two and four by Saturday night and the news that Mikel Arteta will miss the rest of the season is a bitter blow to Arsène Wenger.
Already deprived of Jack Wilshere until next season, the Frenchman must now do without the former Everton midfielder who has filled Cesc Fàbregas’ boots better than most thought he would.
It’s no coincidence that Arsenal’s resurgence has come as Robin van Persie has enjoyed a lengthy clean bill of health for the first time in years – but Arteta’s absence leaves the Gunners’ midfield threadbare and defeat to Wigan might not be their last in the coming weeks.
Forget Gareth Bale, forget David Beckham, forget Steven Taylor – the first player picked by Stuart Pearce for Britain’s Olympic football team should be Nick Powell.
Delve a little lower than the Premier League and you will find one of the most promising English footballers for years.
Powell plies his trade for play-off-chasing League Two side Crewe Alexandra, who have never been shy in producing a decent player, and netted two in the draw with Macclesfield on Saturday.
Just 18 years old, Powell has featured regularly for Crewe since making his debut at 16 with Premier League scouts rumoured to be watching the midfielder like hawks.
And so, with the British team at this summer’s Olympics to be predominantly Under-23, it’s time to test Powell’s potential – it is the perfect stage, is it not?
He has represented England Under-18s and surely Crewe wouldn’t be opposed to letting him play – after all any potential transfer fee thereafter would be welcome.
So forget the likes of Bale pulling on the Team GB shirt and let’s see what Powell, and the generation that will lead us into future World Cups, can do.
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