Mikel Arteta has enjoyed an incredible run of form since managing to implement his ideas into the Arsenal set-up, and that means that despite mid-season turmoil, the Gunners still have an outside chance of reaching the top four.
Arteta has managed to turn the tide in his favour since a December defeat to Chelsea to end a rocky 2019.
Since the turn of the year, the Gunners have been strong domestically and are yet to lose in the league. In the eight fixtures in the Premier League so far this year, the Gunners have won four and drawn four. That run of form also includes victories in their last three matches against Newcastle United, Everton and West Ham United.
Granted, away firm has been indifferent, with the Gunners yet to taste victory away from the Emirates under Arteta, but the initial signs have been good.
Can The Gunners Still Finish In The Top Four?
Ahead of the Premier League restarting for the Gunners with a trip to the Etihad, Arteta’s side are eight points away from the Champions League places. Fifth may still be enough for sides in the top-flight to secure a place in the Champions League next season due to the UEFA ban that could be hanging over Manchester City.
Arsenal are five points away from Manchester United, who are currently in that spot. In order for the Gunners to get into those spots, they will have to build momentum and go on a long winning run. However, let’s look at how they were before Arteta arrived: basically the Miami Dolphins of the Premier League (one of the worst teams in the NFL if you are not familiar with them).
The fourth spot may be a bridge too far for the Gunners, and with Arsenal having already been knocked out of the Europa League, City’s ban could be a blessing for the Gunners. Fifth could be their best chance, but five points is still a huge mountain to climb with ten games of the season remaining. But, if the Gunners can turn the draws that they have got away from home into wins, then that gap could be bridged fairly quickly.
The fixture list does present some tough fixtures to end the season, with Arsenal having to travel to City and Tottenham Hotspur. The Gunners also host Leicester City and Liverpool over the final weeks. Only one of the teams that Arsenal come up against have realistically nothing to play for, as fixtures against Brighton & Hove Albion, Norwich City, Aston Villa and Watford could also be tricky given that all sides are locked in a relegation battle.
How Important Is Champions League Football?
Champions League football is important to all the teams in the top six, but Arsenal needs the competition more than most. The financial restraints that are on the club are still huge, which means the qualification for the Champions League will give Arteta some much-needed cash to spend.
In order to compete over the coming seasons, Arsenal will need to invest in their squad, as the sides around them are getting stronger with every passing window.
There are also new sides coming into the competition, with Wolverhampton Wanderers and Leicester City both looking likely to be in the mix again next season.
However, the most important aspect of qualifying for the Champions League will be the players that the club will be able to attract.
The biggest names demand to play in the competition, which means that the Gunners could also need the top-tier European competition in order to persuade Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang to stay at the club.
The Gunners captain is the most important player at the club, and if they happen to lose him, then Arteta will be forced to start from scratch in his plans to make Arsenal competitive again.