Arsenal enjoyed a late-season resurgence to take the race for a top-four finish in the Premier League all the way to the final day, but manager Arsene Wenger admitted the upturn in form came too late to secure Champions League football next season. Arsenal suffered three defeats and a draw in five Premier League games in March and the start of April which left their top-four hopes in jeopardy, and Wenger believes the way they were dumped out of Europe by Bayern Munich was reason for the dramatic dip in form.
Goals from Hector Bellerin, Alexis Sanchez and Aaron Ramsey sealed a 3-1 win for Arsenal against Everton in Sunday afternoon’s Premier League clash, but the Gunners missed out on a top-four finish. Arsene Wenger’s men spent 76 minutes with 10 men after Laurent Koscielny was sent off, but made light work of a travel-sick Everton side second-best on the day.
Arsenal took the lead inside of ten minutes through Hector Bellerin. A free-flowing move from the home side saw Danny Welbeck’s close-range miss put into the back of the net by Bellerin. Minutes later, Koscielny was red carded for a late and dangerous challenge on Enner Valencia. Inside of half an hour, it was 2-0. Alexis Sanchez saw his initial shot blocked but followed up after Welbeck kept the ball alive and teed him up inside the area.
Arsenal host Everton on Sunday on the final weekend of the Premier League knowing that their top-four hopes are now out of their own hands.
The Gunners will kick-off this game one point behind fourth-place Liverpool and three points behind third-place Manchester City who have a superior goal difference of five.
Arsene Wenger’s side simply have to win and hope that one of their rival’s slips up, which looks unlikely, as City are away at out-of-form Watford and Liverpool host already relegated Middlesbrough.
According to the Daily Mirror, Catalan giants Barcelona could reignite their interest in Arsenal right-back Hector Bellerin this summer. The youngster joined the Gunners from the La Masia academy and has gone on to gain a big reputation in north London.
Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo claim that the reigning Spanish champions could press ahead with a £45million bid this summer if the Gunners fail to qualify for the Champions League this season, which at the moment is a major possibility.
Bellerin has been out of form in recent months
Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez put himself back into the race for the Premier League Golden Boot on Tuesday night with his brace against Sunderland in a 2-0 victory.
The win was not only vital for his team and kept them in the race for the Champions League spots, but also rather unexpectedly put him back in the running for the Premier League’s top scorer.
Going head-to-head with rival on Sunday
Ironically, the two goals put Sanchez just a goal behind Everton’s Romelu Lukaku on 23 goals. The Toffees forward has struggled for goals of late and has failed to score in his last four Premier League outings.
Arsenal host bottom of the table Sunderland at the Emirates Stadium in the Premier League, in a game the Gunners simply have to win in order to keep alive their Champions League hopes.
The situation is now simple for the north London side, they have to win their two remaining games and hope Liverpool or Manchester City slip-up in their games.
Liverpool now have a four-point lead on the Gunners, but Arsene Wenger’s team have a game in hand on the Reds. City are three points ahead of Arsenal having played the same amount of games. Both the Gunners rivals have favourable games.
Arsenal are back in the hunt again for Champions League football for next season. A 4-1 win at Stoke on Saturday evening kept the Gunners in the running for a place in Europe’s elite competition. A lot hinges on Liverpool’s visit to West Ham later today.
However, the Merseysiders failing to win in the capital will give Arsenal the advantage in the race for a top-four finish this season. The question is will Arsene Wenger and his team be forgiven if the Gunners make the top-four?
A change of system responsible for upturn in fortunes
Arsenal kept their hopes of Champions League qualification for next season alive with a 4-1 win at Stoke City on Saturday evening.
Arsenal had the first real threat on goal on five minutes, as Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland saved well at the feet of Alexis Sanchez. The referee’s assistant raised the flag anyway, so the effort would not have counted, but nevertheless a good save from the ‘keeper.
The Gunners threatened again on nine minutes. Mesut Ozil floated a corner into the area that Shkodran Mustafi glanced towards goal, only for Butland to tip over the bar superbly.
On Saturday evening Arsenal visit Stoke City in a game that could prove vital for the Gunners top four challenge.
Stoke City will head into this game hoping to move into the top half of the Premier League table, as they are currently 13th in the Premier League. The Potters have finished ninth in the past few campaigns and with midtable so congested a fourth consecutive ninth-place finish is not out of the question.
However, Mark Hughes team have been in poor form of late in the Premier League, having won just one of their last nine games in the English top-flight. The Potters have also won just one of their last four games on home soil in the top-flight.
Arsenal are somehow still in the fight for the Champions League spots this season after the Gunners 2-0 win over Southampton on Wednesday night. However, on Saturday a trip to face Stoke City is a potential banana skin in the Gunners challenge for the top-four.
Arsene Wenger’s side have a poor record in the Potteries, winning just once in their eight Premier League games at Stoke. In fact, the Gunners have won on just two of their last 14 visits to Stoke in all competitions, so it’s fair to stay it is not the Wenger’s favourite ground to visit.