So I am sitting here letting my mind wander whilst looking at the Premier League table. Usually a dangerous thing to do.
I looked at the table because I was interested in the bottom, not the top. I wanted to see what all this “Newcastle revival” talk was about. They are now out of the relegation zone.
If you were an Everton fan you would be worried. Relegation is a genuine possibility for them. It was not too long that Arsenal fans were saying we should “be more like Everton with their ambitious owners”.
Everton are also a warning to Newcastle. Just because you chuck a lot of money at a project, does not mean it will automatically become successful.
I then looked at the top of the league.
Arsenal sit 6th. Not bad. But not great.
But we have games in hand; and that is when my mind started to wander with loads of “what ifs”.
The first one, of course, was “what if we win all 3 of our games in hand on Chelsea and West Ham?”
That would take us to 45 points.
We would be 5 clear of the Hammers and just 2 behind Chelsea. Not a bad place to be.
Then my coffee, and reality, kicked in.
We have only won 52% of our league games this year, so expecting us to win all 3 of our games in hand is perhaps unreasonable.
Our 3 games in hand are home and away to Wolves as well as a trip to Tottenham. Expecting 9 out of 9 is a tough target.
The realistic outcomes are 3 (win the home game, lose the aways), 5 (win the home, draw the aways) or 6 (win the home, snatch a victory away, lose the other).
If we get 6 points from those 3 games, it would league us on 42 points. 2 above West Ham but a way off Chelsea in 3rd.
Depending on whether we beat Spurs or not is key.
We both currently sit on 36 points, and they have a game in hand on us.
Winning at White Hart Lane takes that game in hand out of the equation.
Manchester United are also on 39 points, with 1 game in hand on all those in 3rd and 4th. A victory in that game would take them to 42 points.
There is a realistic chance that once all the games in hand have been played out, Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United could all be on level points – and West Ham just a couple behind.
Fixture congestion could play a part.
Arsenal’s advantage of “not being in Europe” is negated by this weekends game against Chelsea and the Liverpool fixture being postponed due to their cup commitments.
If they continue their runs in Europe and the FA Cup, it is not clear where these games could be re-arranged too.
Arsenal could be heading into March with 3 games in hand on many of those around them – but those 3 games being trips to Chelsea and Tottenham, and a home game against Liverpool.
At that point we will almost have to ignore that we have games in hand.
It is hotting up in the race for top 4.