With eight rounds in this season’s Premier League roaster done and dusted, Arsenal have broken into third place by beating Bournemouth 1-0 at the Emirates, courtesy of an early David Luiz header. Of course, the Gunners needed that bit of luck which, surprisingly enough, did come their way this time.
Arsenal manager Unai Emery believes his team can finish the season by securing a place in next season’s Champions League.
Following the Gunners’ 1-2 win away to Huddersfield on Saturday, the boss spoke about the team’s chances of playing in Europe’s elite club competition in 2019/20, something club chairman Sir Chips Keswick revealed to be of absolute priority as far as the goals of the season are concerned.
Alex Iwobi opened the scoring in the 16th minute with his well-controlled volley picking up a kind deflection and catching Ben Hamer in Huddersfield goal on the wrong foot, Alexandre Lacazette finished off a nice team move and doubled the lead just before halftime, and Sead Kolašinac gave the Terriers a brief hope with a clumsy last-minute own-goal.
Arsenal have not been known for their character and team spirit in recent years. In fact, there seems to have been tension in the Gunners dressing room in recent years. The doubts over the futures of star player Alexis Sanchez must have had an effect.
An end to the Sanchez saga a relief
As good a player as Alexis Sanchez is, his presence at the club may have harmed team spirit in recent months. It seemed obviously he wanted to leave the club and his exit seems to have lifted a cloud over the club and Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger.
A month can make a hell of a lot of difference in a football’s team’s fortunes. Arsenal are one of those teams that tend to go on streaky runs of form. The majority of recent reasons those runs of form have been enough to give the Gunners top-four finishes.
However, a late surge last season towards the top four spots was not quite enough to secure a Champions League spot for this season. Arsenal head into the international break on a positive note after Sunday’s comfortable 2-0 win over Brighton at the Emirates Stadium.
Far more positive mood around the club
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.
Liverpool suffered a 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace in their last Premier League clash, and are now third in the table with 66 points from 34 games, staying nine clear of Arsenal who now have three games in hand on the Merseysiders and could catch mathematically catch them in the table. Arsene Wenger’s men still need slip-ups from their top-four rivals but Liverpool’s defeat opens the door for them.
Arsenal drew 2-2 with fellow top challengers Manchester City on Sunday at the Emirates Stadium. The draw leaves the Gunners seven points behind the Citizens, who occupy fourth place in the Premier League table.
Arsene Wenger’s team does have a game in hand and have previous of coming back late on in a season to rescue a top four position. This season it seems it will be harder than ever for the Gunners to make a late dart for the Champions League spots.
Form has been poor of late
Manchester City host Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium in Sunday afternoon’s Premier League clash, in a game that could see Arsenal in a stronger position in the race for a top-four finish depending on the outcome. Arsene Wenger’s men would leapfrog Liverpool in the table if they win their two games in hand, and defeat for Liverpool would all but settle the battle for Champions League football.
In the Premier League this season, Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side are third with 56 points from 27 games while Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side are fourth with 55 points from 28 games. Arsenal are fifth with 50 points from 26 games and could make up ground on the sides above them if Sunday’s result goes their way.
Arsenal have played just one Premier League game since mid-February with postponements and FA Cup commitments leading to lack of domestic action. The Gunners have picked up just three points in the top flight since January, and it’s led to them taking a big hit in their pursuit for a top-four spot.
Arsene Wenger’s men are currently fifth in the Premier League table with 50 points from 26 games, and their poor form in amongst the postponed fixtures has led to the likes of Tottenham Hotspur (2nd) and Manchester City (3rd) going six points ahead of the Londoners, while Liverpool are five points clear in fourth.