Having failed to win for the eighth time in 13 outings after Mathieu Flamini’s late own goal handed Swansea a draw at the Emirates, Arsenal’s place amongst the Premier League’s best suddenly looks far from secure.
Arsene Wenger’s side are still long odds-on at 11/50 to finish no lower than their current fourth place, but – as was outlined on these pages not too long ago – Everton’s 3-0 win at Newcastle sees them very much back in the picture to gatecrash the elite at 4/1.
The two teams clash at Goodison Park in the Toffees’ next home game and Roberto Martinez’s side could well be in a position to swap places with the Gunners by that point.
Arsenal are currently six points ahead of Martinez’s men, having played a game more and host rampant title challengers Manchester City next time out, with the visitors priced up as evens favourites for victory.
Everton, on the other hand, face basement-dwellers Fulham at Craven Cottage and are 3/4 jollies to inflict a fourth defeat on Felix Magath’s side since the bespectacled boss took over five games ago.
Should the expected results follow, the Merseyside blues – who have won 11 and lost just one of their 15 home league games so far this term – would require a bare win over Wenger’s boys at Goodison Park to overtake them, as the Gunners’ slight goal-difference advantage would be wiped out.
Such an eventuality would spark panic in north London, where perennial qualification for the Champions League is king and the reason Wenger is still in a job after nearly nine years without adding to the Emirates’ mothball-filled trophy cabinet.
The 11/25 odds on offer about Arsenal ending their silverware drought by winning the FA Cup look far too slim at present, especially considering the red-hot form their semi-final opponents Wigan – the current holders and vanquishers of City in the last round – have shown since Uwe Rosler took over.
Arsenal’s loss to Birmingham in the 2011 League Cup final showed the pressure this group of players are under to deliver a trinket and makes the 13/8 about them falling short again this term appeal greatly, but there is an even better bet to be had for those who see the Gunners collapsing like a house of cards during the run in.
It’s 4/1 with bwin that Wenger won’t be the Arsenal manager come the start of next term and with half the continent’s top clubs ready to welcome the 64-year-old with open arms if the Emirates boo-boys finally get their way, that looks a very backable price.