Can Arsenal step up their game in the final weeks of the season?

Arsenal ended the month of March outside of the top four in the Premier League table. In fact, the Gunners were behind Manchester United in sixth and level on points with seventh-placed Everton when club football took a step back and international matches took precedence.

The chance of winning the Premier League title has long been gone, and now ending up in the top four looks tough. Arsenal have finished in the Champions League places in each of Arsene Wenger’s 20 years in charge, but this time it is different. With Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Liverpool and Manchester United all aiming for the top four, there is a very distinct possibility that the North London outfit could miss out.

All is not lost, though. With no Champions League football for the rest of the season, Arsenal can focus fully on improving their Premier League position. There are some tough games coming up in the final weeks of the campaign, but Wenger’s side, on paper at least, have the quality to make a late rally for the Champions League places. If you are into football betting, then it would not be a bad idea to take a punt on Arsenal at 3/1 to do what they have done for each of the last 20 years - finish in the top four.

Games against Manchester City at the Emirates Stadium, Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane and Manchester United in North London are going to be tough, but the rest of the matches are winnable. With the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil, Petr Cech and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the team, Arsenal should be able to get the better of West Ham United, Crystal Palace, Middlesbrough, Leicester City and Stoke City with ease.

"Mesut Ozil" (CC BY 2.0) by Kieran Clarke

Palace and Middlesbrough are struggling for survival in the Premier League and will put up a tough fight, but Arsenal are good enough to pick up maximum points at Selhurst Park and at the Riverside Stadium. The game against defending Premier League champions Leicester is at the Emirates, meaning that the Gunners will be favourites. Back in December, Wenger’s side got the better of Stoke 3-1 at home, and they should be able to win at the bet365 Stadium in May. The London derby against West Ham is tricky, but if Arsenal score first, then it is hard to see them dropping all three points.

The three key remaining games for Arsenal are against Tottenham, United and Everton. Back-to-back wins against Spurs and United are going to boost the Gunners’ confidence and enhance their top-four chances, but defeats could severely damage them psychologically. The encounter against the Red Devils is especially important, as Jose Mourinho’s side are direct rivals for Arsenal for the Champions League places.

Perhaps it would all come down to the final game of the season. Everton are unlikely to break into the top four this season, but they will not make it easy for the Gunners at the Emirates. The Toffees defeated Arsenal 2-1 at Goodison Park in December, and Ronald Koeman’s side will be looking to do the double over the North London outfit. Despite the current situation at Arsenal, the fans should remain optimistic about yet another top-four finish.

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