COMMENTARY | Tottenham Hotspur will enter another Survival Sunday with their Champions League dreams in the hands of another club.
Arsenal moved back into fourth place in the Premier League table after defeating Wigan 4-1 at the Emirates on Tuesday. That result also confirmed that Wigan will be the third and final team to be relegated to the Championship. Reading and Queens Park Rangers were officially relegated weeks ago.
Lukas Podolski put the Gunners in front eleven minutes into play when some shoddy man-marking on a corner gifted the Arsenal man with a free header that Wigan goalkeeper Joel Robles had zero chance of saving. The visitors showed real fight in the way they fought back following the opening goal, and they found a deserved equalizer two minutes before the halftime whistle. A controversial decision by referee Mike Dean landed Wigan with a free kick from five yards outside of the Arsenal penalty area, and Shaun Maloney sailed his attempt over the wall and past the diving hands of Wojciech Szczesny.
Wigan came out of the break with plenty of fire, but their relegation form eventually resulted in their doom. A duo of defensive miscues aided Arsenal in finding two goals in the span of five minutes. Then, with the visitors forced to press forward in order to search for three tallies of their own, an Arsenal counterattack concluded with Aaron Ramsey depositing the ball in the roof of the Wigan goal 19 minutes from time.
Arsenal are now back ahead of rivals Tottenham in the race for the final Champions League spot. The Gunners are on 70 points. Spurs are on 69 points. Chelsea, third place in the table, are on 72 points. The Blues have a goal difference of +35. Arsenal have a GD of +34, and Tottenham have a GD of +19.
There is plenty left to be decided on May 19, the final day of the 2012-13 season. Arsenal could still finish as high as third and as low as fifth. They will be away to Newcastle. Newcastle manager Alan Pardew made some regrettable comments this past weekend about that upcoming fixture once his side guaranteed their safety. He may be faced with an uncomfortable Monday morning meaning if his squad puts up a stinker at home to finish off what has been a disappointing campaign. Newcastle will also be playing for what could be a decent amount of cash.
Chelsea will be home to Everton. While the hosts taking all of the points is, on paper, the most likely result, it's far from a guarantee. David Moyes, who is leaving Everton to take over for the retiring Alex Ferguson, could introduce himself to the Manchester United faithful in a big way by potentially making life for Chelsea just that much more difficult.
The Tottenham vs. Sunderland match could, when all is said and done, prove to be the least exciting and least meaningful of the May 19 clashes mentioned in this piece. Spurs can only finish fourth if they defeat Sunderland AND Arsenal fail to win at Newcastle. The result of Tuesday's Arsenal vs. Wigan encounter guaranteed Sunderland Premier League football for the 2013-14 season, so their minds and hearts may already be on the beach as of the posting of this piece.
It's now up to Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas to do all he can to boost his squad's morale before the final Sunday of the season. Closing things out on a high note in front of your home supporters is never a bad thing, and that Newcastle should be playing for pride and maybe their manager's job versus Arsenal means that nothing regarding the top four is yet set in stone. Fate was unkind to Spurs last May.
We may be a little over 90 minutes away from history repeating itself.
Zac has been covering Tottenham Hotspur, Major League Soccer, New York Red Bulls, the USMNT and other soccer leagues for Yahoo! Sports since 2010.
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