Will Arsenal Claim a Top Four Place?
Even as the Premier League season draws to a close, the race to secure a top four place continues to gather momentum.
While it may be argued that league leaders Chelsea and Tottenham have already secured their spot next seasons’ Champions League, there are at least four other teams competing for two remains places.
Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal are currently separated by just nine points, while the latter two clubs have games in hand on those above them.
The Gunners, who can reclaim fifth spot and close the gap on fourth place Manchester City with a victory at Crystal Palace, are also looking to seal Champions League qualification for the 19th consecutive season.
The question that remains is whether this lofty ambition can be achieved in the face of such relentless competition?
Will it Be a Season Too Far for Arsenal?
Make no mistake; the bookmakers believe that Arsenal and Manchester United remain genuine outsiders for a Champions League place, with the Gunners priced at an average of 15/8 to finish in the top four.
This is despite the Gunners’ run of 18 consecutive seasons competing in the Champions League, and the fact that they and Manchester United have reached five finals between them since 1998.
So why are the Gunners relatively unfancied this season? Much of it has to do with uncertainty surrounding Arsene Wenger’s future and Arsenal’s failure to evolve as a side, with a perceived lack of leadership, steel and defensive resolution continuing to plague the team.
The club has also been caught off-guard by the improvement of their closest rivals, with Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City and even bitter neighbours Tottenham now having arguably overtaken them in English football’s pecking order this season.
This paints a bleak picture for the Gunners, but if the last 18 years has taught us anything it is that the club tends to find a way of securing its place in the Champions League regardless of the obstacles facing them.
The trip to White Hart Lane on 30th of April and the home game against Manchester United will be crucial if they are to repeat recent history, but there is no reason why they should be discounted so long as they continue to win their matches.
This Season and Beyond: What Next for the Gunners?
While there is no doubt that this season represents Arsenal’s biggest challenge yet in terms of Champions League qualification, the club retains the quality and the experience to claim a top four place.
The Gunners may even represent a tempting betting option. For anyone looking to place a wager, bonuscode.co.uk offer a number of promotions which could be appealing, particularly if the odds continue to lengthen.
Perhaps a more pressing issue is what will happen to Arsenal beyond this season, with Wenger expected to leave in the summer and the futures of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in serious doubt. This could well put the events of this season in the shade, but there is no doubt that Arsenal would prefer to enter a new era with Champions League qualification behind them.