Don’t discount sprint-finishers Arsenal for late title tilt

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As far as many are concerned, this season’s Premier League title race has narrowed to two of the most unlikely participants. But it would be extremely dangerous to rule out a third party that’s well accustomed to making late charges.

Before Tottenham failed to apply much pressure to league-leading Leicester with a draw against Liverpool on Saturday evening, their north London rivals had romped to victory to keep a flame flickering on their own title ambitions.

Arsenal’s battle with Watford was effectively over as a contest in the 48th minute, when full-back Hector Bellerin slotted his side’s third goal in an eventual 4-0 success.

The victory still leaves the Gunners eight points off the Foxes for top spot, with Ladbrokes making them 9/2 to claim a first league crown since 2003/04. But if there’s one thing Arsenal have always managed in recent seasons, it’s to finish strong.

Arsene Wenger’s outfit need to win all remaining assignments, and hope the two teams ahead of them fold under the pressure of an unlikely trophy chase, in order to muscle their way to the head of the pack.

The Watford triumph made it two wins on the bounce for the Emirates outfit and there are reasons to believe that the streak can grow further over the final weeks of the season.

Firstly, Arsenal have built momentum during the home stretch of each of the past three league campaigns.

They only lost once in their final 14 fixtures last season, winning eight in a row to start that run.

Towards the end of 2013/14, the north Londoners claimed maximum points from their last five outings and a year prior to that went unbeaten in 10 to close the season, winning eight of those.

With sprint finishes becoming the norm, Arsenal’s remaining fixtures hint that another dart up the rails is within them.

There are a few tests, starting with West Ham away next and including a trip to Manchester City on the penultimate day of the season, but the rest of their run-in is favourable.

Crystal Palace, West Brom, Sunderland, Norwich and Aston Villa all occupy places in the bottom reaches of the division and should present little resistance to Arsenal’s last dash for glory.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.