Despite a lackluster 80 minutes home to a strong Southampton side, Tottenham Hotspur pulled an Arsenal and notched a late winner in a game from which they didn't deserve the full three points. Four points from Southampton at home and Wigan away is roughly what the spreadsheets had projected, so in theory Spurs would be right in the middle of the race. Obnoxiously, Arsenal and Chelsea both solidly outperformed expectations despite matches against the league champions. Manchester United muddled through two games with little in the way of cutting edge or intensity, allowing Arsenal a draw and Chelsea a late win. This week, Arsenal pulled another Arsenal away to QPR, riding a first-minute goal from Theo Walcott through the thoroughly unimpressive 93 minutes that followed.
Because of the performances of our London rivals, Tottenham face a simple task for Wednesday. Win. A win puts Tottenham back dead even with Chelsea and a bit ahead of Arsenal in expectation. Win, and Spurs just need to win out or for one of our rivals to drop points. (We'd just be even in expectation, not well ahead, because Arsenal and Chelsea both hold the goal difference advantage, so ties go to the other guys.)
It wouldn't be impossible for Spurs to make the top four with a draw. If Spurs draw at Chelsea and win their next two, while Arsenal fail to win either home to Wigan or away to Newcastle, that would put Tottenham in the Champions League. A loss to Chelsea would require Arsenal to lose one of those games (or draw both), plus Spurs wins at Stoke and home to Sunderland. The draw scenario is not entirely implausible--Arsenal have to stop winning at some point, right?--while the loss scenario looks really rough.
The big problem with either the loss or draw scenario, as you might have noticed, is that I didn't even mention Chelsea. They clinch a Champions League place with a home win on Wednesday. A draw puts them well out in front, safe except in the event of a true collapse. For Tottenham to have a good chance at the Champions League, they should be fighting two opponent for two places, not one opponent for that last position.
Champions League Race Tables
I'll have a full update on the relegation race and updated power rankings later in the week. For now, these are the initial numbers on the Champions League race after the weekend's games. (These may change by a couple points when I re-post on Thursday because I'll be updating the team quality numbers that underlie the projections, but the differences should be small this late in the season.)
|Club||W||D||L||Pts||%Top 4||ΔTop 4|
Spurs now have a reasonable chance of setting or tying the club record for points in a Premier League season without making the top four. So there's another fun scenario to dwell on. There's also a roughly 10% chance of Tottenham missing the Champions League on goal difference.
Jeez, y'all, I don't know why you keep telling me these things are such downers...
It all comes down to Wednesday at Stamford Bridge. I put prediction numbers for that game in the last post. Spurs are clear underdogs, as you'd expect on the road to a club of broadly equivalent quality. 31% chance of a win, 21% chance of a draw, 48% for a loss.
The rather amazing thing in the massive implications of these different outcomes for the Champions League race. I can't quite get the visualization of this data right. Hopefully it's clear. I list the likelihood of each of the big London clubs making the Champions League, based on whether Tottenham win, draw or lose at Chelsea.
|Outcome||Tot W||Tot D||Tot L|
A win makes Spurs the favorites, though only by the slimmest of margins. This is it.
One of my classes has their exam on Wednesday starting at 4:30. I may go utterly insane if they have a lot of questions about the exam format--it's the same as the midterm, come on--but I can put the laptop on my desk facing away from them with the sound off. I shouldn't miss much, except for them possibly cheating. But whatever. I have my priorities.
This is it.