After Everton’s 3-0 win over Arsenal on Sunday, the race for fourth is well and truly on. While the “fourth place trophy” as some have called it, is not a trophy, getting into the Champions League is huge for any club’s future. With the extra money and the ability to attract great players, getting into the Champions League, or not getting into the Champions League, can make a major impact on a club’s future. All of that is on the line with this race for fourth between Champions League regulars, Arsenal, and not so regulars Everton.
After that huge 3-0 victory, Everton are only a point behind Arsenal with a game in hand on the Gunners. This means that the race is in Everton’s hands. The size of the victory meant that, Everton’s goal difference has gone from being one worse than Arsenal’s to five better. Bottom line is if Everton win out they get fourth spot end of. While they may not like it, Arsenal need to depend on Everton to drop some points in their run in if they are to get to Europe’s top competition once again.
Everton have the momentum on their side. Roberto Martinez’s men have won every game since their late defeat against Chelsea. The six wins on the bounce for Everton will give them the confidence that they can win every game no matter who it is against. Since coming back from injury, Romelu Lukaku has been in great form scoring five goals in his last seven games for Everton. Everton have scored three goals in their last four games showing how free scoring they can be when it all clicks. Arsenal on the other hand, have been in awful form. Arsenal’s extremely difficult March was well documented and it was just as difficult as people said it would be. Arsenal have only won nine points from their last nine league games. Arsenal have been outscored 13-3 in their last six league games. Everton will head into the run in full of confidence and with momentum while Arsenal will be low on both.
Arsenal do have a big advantage as they have a much easier run in than Everton. Arsenal play only one team in the top 10 in their five remaining games. They play Hull and Norwich away with West Ham, West Brom, and Newcastle coming to the Emirates, where Arsenal have not lost since opening day.
Everton will face Sunderland, Southampton, and Hull away and welcome Crystal Palace and both Manchester clubs to Goodison. Everton will be facing Manchester United, Southampton and Manchester City all on the bounce. With that three game stretch, it will be very difficult to pick up all 18 points in that run in, especially if City is still in the race for the title.
This is one of the tightest seasons in Premier League history from top to bottom and is an interesting top four race since no one expected Arsenal to be on the fringes of it after they were top of the league for 128 days. Everton have it in their hands and have all of the momentum, but the difficulty of their run in makes it tough to tell who will get the spot. This is nearly a 50-50 for who will get it. Arsenal pretty much have to win all of their last five games to get fourth.
The big question is, in Arsenal’s current form are they capable of winning all of those games? Despite their good form, it is tough to see Everton going through that run without dropping points somewhere. It really could go either way but, I’ll go for Arsenal to come out on top because of their experience in this situation and their run in. That said, no one would be surprised if Everton were to do it.