After a huge weekend in the Premier League, the top four race is now wide open, and luck is starting to wave Tottenham Hotspur away.
Arsenal’s 3-0 defeat to Crystal Palace was compounded by the loss of both Kieran Tierney and Thomas Partey. The club have confirmed the Scotsman will be out for the rest of the season with a knee injury, while Partey will undergo an investigation into a thigh problem ahead of Saturday’s game against Brighton.
Meanwhile, the Spurs passed Newcastle at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium and won the match 5-1. The win means they are now fourth on goal difference, although Mikel Arteta’s side has a game up their sleeve against their biggest rivals.
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With Tottenham – and more specifically Harry Kane – in good shape, Paul Merson thinks his old side may just be missing out on Champions League spots: “Spurs are now the top four favorites. If Harry Kane plays the way he is I don’t think so don’t think too many teams are going to beat them,” he wrote in his Sky Sports column. “I saw him go to the Etihad and tear Manchester City apart. I saw him tear West Ham apart, I saw him tear Newcastle apart.”
“But if you take Kane out of the team, the top four won’t happen for Spurs. It’s that simple. If he doesn’t show up at Burnley, they’re beaten. Tottenham is a one-man team and it’s not.” be disrespectful. You could have a Ferrari, but without an engine in the car it won’t work. He’s the all-round package, and that’s why he’s the best striker in the world, and I’ve said it for a long, long time.”
Merson went on to explain how big of a miss Tierney will be for Arsenal as they aim to finish in the top four for the first time since the 2015/16 season: “Kieran Tierney will be a big miss for Arsenal, following his knee injury for the Palace competition,” he added. “He’s one of the players you can’t afford to take out of this Arsenal team. He’s solid, he gets an 8/10 every week, he sets an example. He’s a winner – you know what to do with going to get him, and he was a big miss on Monday night.
“Nuno Tavares played one of those games as a left-back, but it’s hard when you’re out of the team for so long. You’re not really playing football – you’re just training. Even if you’re playing with the reserves, it’s not the Premier League. To come in and say, ‘Right, play in this game’ – you feel for these players. No matter how much you train, it’s not the same as playing.”
Merson isn’t alone in thinking the Gunners will suffer from Tierney’s injury either. When asked who could be the biggest miss in Monday Night Football’s clash between Crystal Palace and Arsenal, Wayne Rooney replied: “Kieran Tierney”. That was justified by Tavares’ horror performance. The Portuguese defender was to blame for Palace’s second goal, as he allowed Jordan Ayew to break through and score, he was later substituted for Arteta at half time.
And given Arsenal’s lack of experience and squad depth in left-back positions, Rooney also thinks Tottenham will cross the line: “I think Tottenham have a little more experience, which can help Tottenham cross the line,” he says. said, as quoted by Caughtoffside.
There is ultimately still a long way to go, especially as the two have yet to face it in May, but the pressure on Arteta and his young side is very high. Whether they can handle it is another question.