Three matches ago Arsenal were surely not sure fourth was possible any longer. They had lost three straight in the league to Crystal Palace, Brighton and Southampton, and four out of five dating before that run. Spurs appeared in the driver’s seat and the Gunners were going to need to produce something special against a difficult stretch of teams.
Now, the Gunners could very well secure the top four place they desire with victory in the next two matches and, should they win out the season, there is nothing to say that third is not possible after Chelsea shockingly fell to Frank Lampard and Everton. Beating Chelsea, Manchester United and West Ham have helped both of these causes as well, as have stumbles by all of those teams plus Tottenham. It is shocking and absolutely exciting.
While the next match for Arsenal can’t be taken lightly, as they will be facing a team that is now, in earnest, fighting for their Premier League lives, the Gunners must beat Leeds in order to exert the maximum amount of pressure upon the only other top four challenger remaining other than them. Spurs face Liverpool a day before, and should the Reds hold form and defeat Tottenham coupled with an Arsenal victory, it would create a five-point gap with a North London Derby the next match.
A victory at Tottenham – which would be Arsenal’s first in the league since 2014 – would seal fourth position in the league table. Depending on how Chelsea finishes this season, it could even mean a better final finish with victories against Newcastle and/or Everton on the last day of the season.
Arsenal simply must take care of Premier League business vs Leeds and Tottenham to secure a top four place
For many weeks now, people have spoken about the rather difficult stretch of matches left for Arsenal this season, while behaving as if there were not tough tests for others either, relatively speaking. Yet after Arsenal has weathered a difficult three-game stretch with three wins following the three-game losing skid that preceded it, schedules and the way it’s all played out looks a bit different than it all once did.
Tottenham has to play Liverpool next, while Arsenal plays Leeds coming up as well, which, in the most likely and hopeful situation, means that Arsenal takes a five-point lead over Spurs with just three matches to go for each team in the season. This is the first imperative that must happen for this team, as without it, the rest of the plan cannot occur either. Should Spurs win of course that cannot be helped, but the Gunners must beat Jesse Marsch’s side, who face a daunting remaining schedule.
Should that occur, Arsenal will be heading to face Tottenham in the biggest North London Derby in years. Three points against Spurs in that match would mean the race for fourth was sewn up, while the race for third remained very much undecided. And that is because Chelsea also play, among other teams, Liverpool in the FA Cup final after Wolves and Leeds, with the Wembley showpiece coming just two days before Arsenal face Newcastle in their final away match on the penultimate game of the season.
Then it all ends with Everton. That will not be an easy match for either side, and the Gunners should hope to have sealed up fourth by that point, so that chasing third is but a mere best-case scenario by that time. Winning the next two is the best-case scenario and, in all likelihood, would save Arsenal the pain of sweating out the last two matches
But anything can happen, to be sure. Arsenal will have to win five in a row once again this season to claim a top-four, and seven in a row might see them leapfrog Chelsea in the dying weeks of this Premier League campaign.
It would be an emphatic way to end the season, and one that would let everyone know across England and Europe that Arsenal have returned to the Champions League and are going to be a real problem year in and year out, competition in and competition out.