Man City Match Could Prove Crucial To Top Four Finish

Top four is, obviously, where you want to be in the Premiership. With a top four finish there are the bright lights of the Champions League and all else that comes with it. And since the 1995-1996 season, that is where the Gunners have finished every single season. A win over the defending league champions this weekend would go a long way in keeping that streak alive in a season that has seen some unusual competition join the scrum at the top of the table.

Currently sitting in fifth, Arsenal are only a single point behind Manchester United for and three behind third-place Southampton. With almost half of the season yet to be played, it is certainly not time to panic no matter the result on Sunday. Matches against the likes of Everton and Tettenham in the coming weeks will almost certainly prove to be more crucial to the finish for Arsenal, but defeating City would provide a confidence and momentum boost going in to those contests, along with the obvious benefit of taking three points from one of the league's frontrunners.

Not many are expecting the Gunners to pull that off, unsurprisingly. A survey of the bookmakers partnered with found them pegging Arsenal's odds at just over 3/1, only slightly better than the chances being given to Hull City in their match against West Ham. Going to the Etihad as decently-sized underdogs is never fun, but to do so with growing lineup concerns makes it even less so.

Still, as stated multiple times already, the result Sunday thankfully won't determine the rest of Arsenal's season on it's own. Handling their own business is priority number one, and the Gunners have a squad that is very talented, a given at the Emirates for years. They will win many matches going forward, that is certain. The problem may lie in an interloper to the top four.

Southampton have proven pesky this year, particularly of late. Their magnificent defense has led the way to impressive results like their late December draw with Chelsea and victories over Arsenal and Manchester United already to their credit this month. More worryingly, the Saints have just three matches left on their schedule against sides currently in the top six in the table. The feast of weaker opponents makes their three point edge in the standings seem far more vast.

Of course, catching Southampton isn't the only way for Arsenal to get to the top four, as the Red Devils are right there for the catching. Still, they are Man U, and Van Gaal has had his club in tremendous form of late. The more appealing option is, obviously, the little club that has shocked the league so far. It is a realistic goal for the Gunners, and a victory this weekend would go a long way towards reaching it.

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