This is it. 180 minutes separate Arsenal from achieving their goals this season, starting with an away trip to Newcastle on Monday night.
The situation is daunting. The pressure is mounting. Should Arsenal fail to beat the Magpies they can likely bid farewell to any hopes of finishing in the top four positions. Lose and they would need to beat Everton and hope Norwich spring an almighty surprise win over Tottenham. Draw and it would need to be the same outcome on account of Spurs’ goal difference.
Simply put: win.
Considering the circumstances, the injuries and the age of the squad, Mikel Arteta, his coaching staff and his players have done tremendously well to get to this point. They’ve battled through adversity, setbacks, dressing room unrest and the seeming dislike from every corner of the Premier League.
Do Arsenal deserve to finish in the top four? Ahead of facing Newcastle in the Premier League on Monday, the Gunners’ fate is still undetermined
There is a sense that nobody wants Arsenal to get over the line. Being hated means being relevant again, which should be treated as a positive.
And as the clock ticks down and the nerves crank up, there is a growing notion that clinching a Champions League spot is what Arsenal deserve. For what they’ve been through this season on and off the pitch, with the youngest group in the division, this side deserves to be battling against Europe’s elite in 2022/23.
No they do not.
Nobody has a divine right to anything in football. Oftentimes it is mentioned that a club needs to be back ‘where it belongs’, when the harsh reality is that you belong where you are. You have to earn your status. Across a campaign where there are only a select few prizes on offer, one must win on merit.
Should Arsenal fail to beat 14th placed Newcastle and 16th placed Everton they then will get what they deserve. Europa League football will be heading back to the Emirates and Arsenal will have been good value for it.
Should Arsenal beat 14th placed Newcastle and 16th placed Everton they will then get what they deserve also. If this side can’t overcome these two hurdles then the question will have answered itself.
That’s all that stands in the Gunners’ way.
They will ultimately get what they deserve. The points they’ve won and the points that they’ve lost will determine their fate, and failure to beat two sides in the bottom seven of the Premier League table is last up on a season with a nail-biting final chapter.
Can Arsenal get over the finish line?