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Will Arsenal lose out on the Champions League?
These are tense times for Arsenal. Instead of chasing down the Premier League leaders, they now find themselves desperately clinging on to that coveted top-four spot.
This has been yet another dismal season for the Gunners, there is no chance of any silverware now and Arsenal are yet to confirm their place in the Champions League next season. At the start of April in the emphatic 4-0 victory over Watford, many were hoping that Arsene Wenger’s men were going to end the season in similar form to how they finished the last campaign. But since that win, they have only taken three points from a possible 12. The meekest display yet was against relegation-threatened Sunderland, who were unlucky not to win the game. This leaves Arsenal languishing in fourth spot with a lower goal difference to rivals Manchester City.
With Manchester United in fine form and knocking on the door in fifth place, Arsenal can’t afford any more slip ups and must win all their remaining games to ensure survival. In fact, if United win their last four games and Arsenal win two and lose one, Louis van Gaal’s team will leap frog the Gunners into fourth spot. This means Arsenal’s match with City on the penultimate weekend has as much riding on it as many had predicted it would at the start of the season.
When the season began, pundits were dubbing the Arsenal vs. City fixture as a potential title decider. Now it could potentially determine which team makes the top four. The Gunners are at odds of 3/1 to win this but they could capitalise on City’s fatigue should they progress further in the Champions League. Arsenal tickets for the Etihad for this season-defining match are now on sale and it is not one to be missed.
The chances that Arsenal will miss out on the top four are quite slim, but irate fans will be calling for change next season. Some have already displayed their anger at Wenger, who still has a year left on his contract, and tried to force him to resign. It is fairly unlikely that the Frenchman will leave before his contract runs out, but the chances of him going out with a bang seem to be heavily reduced.
This was supposed to be Arsenal’s season. In an extraordinary campaign where the reigning champions and the title favourites slipped up massively, Arsenal failed to capitalise on the opportunity. Next season is promising to be even tougher, with Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur on the rise, and City and Chelsea bringing in world-class managers who are hungry to make an instant impression. It could be the fiercest battle for top-four places in Premier League history. Wenger must make some big moves in the transfer window to keep Arsenal in the race.
But he must first ensure a top-four finish, because if the Gunners don’t compete in the Champions League next season they could find themselves slipping even further.