The assumption in some quarters is that City will win all of their remaining matches (including the one over Arsenal) and in so doing will win the Premier League. It’s not entirely without logic, they are playing incredibly well, Guardiola has adopted some of Arteta’s tactics (putting a CB in the fullback position), and they have an in-form goal-scoring machine. Meanwhile, Arsenal are missing two incredibly influential players in Saliba and Zinchenko and have had back-to-back draws. Both of those draws felt more like defeats, since the team took a 2-goal lead each time and ended up conceding two goals to let the opponents back in.
But while City are flying high and Arsenal seem to have reverted to the mean I’d just still caution that points in hand are always better than games in hand. You don’t win anything with games in hand. You do win things with points in hand.
I suggest you assess this by probability rather than in absolute terms. Once the matches are decided, when you either do or do not have points in hand, then you can think of things as fairly absolute. But until then, there’s only a probability that such-and-such team will win the League. For example, a lot of folks are already assuming that Arsenal are going to win tomorrow and that’s a fairly safe assumption; the chance of Arsenal winning is currently at 76%. And many of us are assuming that Arsenal are going to lose at City, again, a fairly safe assumption since they have are currently favored to win at 61%. But as we have seen time and again, teams slip up and drop points. And assuming that the points are already in hand – when they literally aren’t – is almost the most dangerous attitude a player, fans, or team can take.
You want the points in hand, not the probability that you’re going to win. After all, Arsenal’s probability of taking all three points against West Ham, when Arsenal had the 2-goal lead, was something like 80%. Saka’s probability of scoring from the penalty spot was 76%. And we know how both of those events turned out.
So, while the probability is on City’s side at the moment, and they have a game in hand (against high flying Brighton I hasten to add), I still look at our four point lead in the league and say we have the advantage because we have the points in hand. And for tomorrow’s match against Southampton what we absolutely cannot do for even a moment while the game is going is think that we have it won. A single stupid moment, a foul in a dangerous area, could let James Ward-Prowse have a chance to score from a direct free kick, and that win could vanish like a spring fog.