Top Four Check In - The start of #Project18
4 min read

Top Four Check In - The start of #Project18

It is the stretch run of the season and just had a big head-to-head match between top four contenders. That means it is time to look at how that match changed things and how the schedule ahead looks for each of the teams still fighting for the Champions League spots.

First is looking at what the simulation says after this weekend's matches:

Arsenal are sitting pretty after this weekend but there are still some very high leverage matches to play, while this looks good for Arsenal have the potential to swing things quite a bit.

The betting odds are now falling in line with the projections after having spent a bit more time flirting with Manchester United than the projection systems did. In the latest betting odds, Arsenal are at 69% (#NICE), with Manchester United at 20% (still higher than projection systems), Tottenham at 18% and West Ham at 5%.

FiveThirtyEight has things as Arsenal 70%, Tottenham at 15%, United at 11%, and West Ham at 3%.

How the schedules for each team look:

One of the big things here is that the teams have played different numbers of matches. Both the Uniteds have played 29 matches, Tottenham have played 27 and Arsenal have played 26.

Arsenal and Tottenham both play one of their makeup matches Wednesday but then still have a match to be played against each other, with Arsenal also having a match against Chelsea to be scheduled.

Here is the breakdown of the current odds for each team's matches.

Arsenal

I am Arsenal fan so I am going to start with Arsenal.

Arsenal have a tough schedule ahead. By just team rank (no adjustments for home and away) Arsenal have the 4th hardest schedule with an average rank of 9.5 for the teams they play. Using FiveThirtyEights SPI rankings with a 5% bump for home/away Arsenal have the second hardest remaining schedule.

Arsenal will be favorites in all by three matches but some of these could still be tricky with away matches against mid-table teams that really show that there are no easy matches in the Premier League anymore.

Tottenham

Tottenham have the second easiest schedule based on team rank and the 7th easiest based on Adjust SPI ranking. Looking at this makes me a bit nervous because really don't want Tottenham to go on a run, this also is what makes me think that they are still the biggest threat to Arsenal.

Manchester United  

Manchester United have the tied for 13th hardest remaining schedule. They have a few very hard matches with some others that are on the "easier" side. Looking at the adjusted SPI rankings they have the 10th hardest schedule.

What will be interesting for them is that they still have the Champions League to contend with if they can get past Atleti this week that will be another 2 matches in April that will have extra strain around them.

West Ham

West Ham have the 17th hardest schedule but have a barbell-shaped schedule with matches against the bottom of the table interspersed with matches against Tottenham, Arsenal, Chelsea, and Manchester City.

This week will likely decide things for them, they have the second leg of their round of 16 Europa League match against Sevilla and a match away to Spurs. If they lose both, the season's goals will all but be over for them.

Points Required

The realistic target for Arsenal and the Champions League should be 69 points or better. 69 points isn't a certain guarantee but given what the other teams are facing getting to that level should be enough. Anything more than that and the team will all but certainly be playing on Tuesday and Wednesday nights again.

I look the matches ahead and think Arsenal vs Brighton, Arsenal vs Leeds United, and Arsenal vs Everton are must-win matches. Against their direct rivals, a draw is good enough (a win would just be a cherry on top).

That gets Arsenal to 12 points.

From there it is getting two more wins from Aston Villa vs Arsenal, Crystal Palace vs Arsenal, Southampton vs Arsenal, and Newcastle Utd vs Arsenal.

That run should be enough and anything more would be extra security. Project 18 here we go.