Arsenal’s First Priority of Locking Down Third Place In Wenger’s Hands


Arsenal’s loss to Tottenham at White Hart Lane two weeks ago now seems like a distant memory. Not only that, the in-form Gunners, who have now won five of their last six Premier League matches and have looked solid after that loss to their North London rivals, have the means to keep in touch with what should be the club’s biggest priority: qualifying for the Champions League by sealing third place in the League.

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Sure, it would be nice to retain the FA Cup, but as a Gunner’s fan, I cannot imagine settling for a place outside of the top four. That’s what could happen if Wenger makes the Cup too much of a priority. “The Boss” must choose to start a balance of invaluable and utility players against Manchester United in the Gunners’ next FA Cup test, and doing so in the following Cup matches will ensure that the squad’s key players will remain healthy.

That aside, Arsenal still has the current Champions League to worry about. Though getting past a weaker Monaco side should take some precedence, Wenger must also choose a correct balance between indispensable players and “squad players” when the Gunners come up against the French squad on the 25th.

This way- and it will take some luck judging by the club’s puzzling injury record over recent years- Arsenal should not only be set to qualify for Europe’s elite Championship next season but should also be  poised for a top three finish if the team remains healthy as a whole.

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Arsenal have earned a reputation of just making it into the Champions League per years of late. The Gunners haven’t ended above third in the league for the past nine seasons and out of those nine campaigns, the club has finished in fourth place six times. Somewhat embarrassing considering Arsenal’s value and resources is that record, and finishing in a position higher than fourth place this year should be the club’s first priority.

That being said, it’s a feasible goal too. Sure, the current third-placed Arsenal is only separated by seventh place Tottenham by a tight margin of four points, and you must remember that there are obviously three teams in between them too, but Arsenal needs to prove its genuine worth: that it is the third best team in England.

As stated above, to achieve this it means that Wenger must make this goal priority number one. If the manager does, there is no excuse for Arsenal to finish behind the ever-inconsistent Manchester United and the weaker Southampton as long as enough players stay fit.

What’s more, it will be quite impressive if Liverpool and Tottenham manage to keep their Champions League aspirations alive in the only way possible, by prolonging their good runs of form. Plus, all those teams clearly do have ground to make up already, and though they are all separated from Arsenal by slim margins right now, one result, even one point this time of year, can make a season-defining difference come May.

Arsenal has the quality to remain top three, and a finish below fourth, which would most likely mean Europa League next year for Arsenal, would be labelled a failed season by many. However, a fourth-placed end will also be stamped a missed opportunity considering the inconsistencies of the others in the Champions League race, and achieving third place could signal a new, better era to come for the club.

In the end, Arsenal must stay healthy and focus on league matches to achieve this attainable, somewhat ambitious, but paramount objective, and the fate of the Gunners’ season rests with Wenger’s decision-making.

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