A few weeks ago it looked all-but guaranteed that the Gunners would miss out on Champions League qualification, but results in recent weeks have presented the race as wide open again.
After a weekend of favourable results for the North London team, Arsenal fans are looking back on the 2-0 defeat to Tottenham with even more anguish. The two Manchester clubs ahead of them both dropped points in seemingly nailed-on winnable games.
For Arsenal to avoid playing on the dreaded Thursday nights, it’s imperative that they win every single league game from now on and pray the others slip up. Champions League qualification is the difference between signing a Lorenzo Insigne and signing a Memphis Depay; it could be imperative going forward. It’s the difference between challenging the elites and playing teams from Belgium. I’m sure most Arsenal fans would rather have no European football than play in the Europa League. That’s what’s at stake here, competitive pride.
Arsenal’s remaining fixtures are as follows;
- Manchester United (h)
- Southampton (a)
- Stoke City (a)
- Sunderland (h)
- Everton (h)
Besides Sunderland at home, all of Arsenal’s remaining games are potential slip-ups. But for a club of Arsenal’s stature, besides Manchester United, Wenger’s team should be winning all of those games, convincingly or unconvincingly. It’s time for the Gunners to show the steel they promised their fans at the start of the season.
Currently, the race for the top 4 looks like this:
3rd Liverpool (P35: 69pts): Southampton (h), West Ham (a) & Middlesbrough (h)
4th Manchester City (P34: 66pts): Crystal Palace (h), Leicester City (h), WBA (h) & Watford (a)
5th Manchester United (P34: 65pts): Arsenal (a), Tottenham (a), Southampton (a) & Crystal Palace (h)
Out of all the contenders, Manchester City have the most favourable of run-ins as 3 of their remaining four games are at home against lower table opposition. Liverpool’s games are also extremely winnable but Klopp’s team have often proved to have struggled against smaller teams. The Red Devils seemingly have the toughest run-in and that’s why I believe Arsenal will overtake them sooner rather than later.
It’s important that the Gunners take matters into their own hands this Sunday and defeat the unbeaten Manchester United. A win would take Wenger’s men within two points of United, with a game in hand over them. This would bump us into fifth place and right on the heels of the top four contenders, waiting for any of them to slip up.
As a betting man it’d be stupid to bet against Arsène Wenger in a top four race, but this season it actually may be one step too far for the Frenchman. His saving grace for the past twelve years is about to be taken away from him and his world could come crumbling down with it.
With the FA Cup still to play for, the best Arsenal could hope for is a top 4 finish and domestic trophy. This would still be better than what all their rivals can achieve and perhaps keep Arsène Wenger in his job for one more year.