Why the table is 'catastrophic' for Arsenal and Chelsea

Arsene Wenger Looks On

The race for the top four should not deflect from the failed or empty title challenges from Chelsea and Arsenal.

The stats don't usually lie, and this season in the Premier League they reveal a really grim picture in my view.

The two Manchester clubs have predictably cemented their places in first and second spots once again, but the remaining two places are far from decided, with only three games left to play.

One London team and their fans are going to end up being very disappointed indeed.

We would be forgiven for wondering why this is, however: why can't the London clubs keep pace with their Manchester rivals?

Even at this stage, Manchester United are a whopping 14 points ahead of their Manchester neighbours (85 to 71) which is jaw dropping enough, bearing in mind last year's breathtaking finish.

But when one looks at United's tally against the London clubs, then the huge difference between them and the London teams becomes apparent…20 points ahead of Chelsea, and 21 points ahead of Arsenal.

Catastrophic, in my view.

Arsenal and Chelsea players both said before the season that winning the league was a possibility, which means their shortfall is eye-opening. Tottenham, while also as far behind, never touted themselves as title challengers.

Now they are both at risk of not even making the top four and missing out on Champions League qualification altogether, potentially disastrous in football terms.

After all the events of the season saw Chelsea sack their manager, and many Arsenal fans vociferous in their desire to change theirs, a couple of months ago at least - It has been as rocky a road for each club as the league table indicates.

So where does the problem lie, and how is it that teams like Arsenal and Chelsea find themselves embarrassingly behind their Manchester rivals once again?

The stats say that United have a clear lead of winning more than 6 games during the season to their nearest London rivals, with a goal difference of 43 to 33. Again, staggering….the London clubs can't keep up. There is no consistency in their play week-on-week (as admitted by Arsenal's Santi Cazorla this morning), whereas the Manchester teams tend to grind out the results week -on-week even if they don't play well.

It was reported this week that far from wallowing in his team's victory, Alex Ferguson is already plotting his new team line-up for next season. The man is like a machine, with a winning mentality that has not waned despite his age, but it is a mystery to me why teams such as Chelsea and Arsenal fall short of this mentality year - on - year.

Arsenal last won it in 2003/4 and Chelsea in 2009/10. Poor form indeed. It feels as if these teams compete year-on-year for a top for place, and not to win the competition. Sad for the players, and sad, predictable and boring for the fans. There is also the inevitability that the same thing will happen again next season, and for me that's the most depressing.

Wenger, for one, seems to have realised it. He said this past weekend that it was “one-way traffic.” We know that the London teams have the financial ability to strengthen their sides. What is not clear, however, is who they get to come in from other teams.

I suspect that all these clubs are constantly scouting for football talent, but not every player fits the mould. Wenger certainly has said time and time again that he would only strengthen the side if the right player could be found. No panic buying. He is right in this respect. No good having players warming the bench week by week and getting paid for it without contributing to the team.

So I can't see much changing next season; surely the London managers must do something if only to truly contest the top prize next year?

As Wenger has often reminds us he is the expert, so let's hope that in the last year of his current contract both he and the (soon to be elected) new manager at Chelsea take the bull by the horns, make some bold decisions and give us a competition worth remembering.

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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