The Premier League is entering its most important stage with a number of important places still to decide. The title race looks certain to go to one of Liverpool or Manchester City but fourth place and a spot in next season’s Champions League remains up for grabs and Arsenal will be determined to grab it.
Mikel Arteta has done an impressive job to turn a young Arsenal squad into serious contenders. The likes of Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Martin Odegaard have sparkled as the Gunners look to return to Europe’s elite competition for the first time since 2016.
But they are not alone in that chase and after consecutive defeats to Crystal Palace and Brighton, their rivals will smell blood. So with that in mind, football.london compares the Gunners next six fixtures to those of Tottenham, Manchester United and West Ham.
Southampton (A) – Saturday, April 16
There was a point this season when a trip to St. Mary’s would have been a daunting task, but Ralph Hassenhutl’s men appear to be on the beach already. Saturday saw them hammered 6-0 by Chelsea at home and the score, in truth, could have been a whole lot worse.
It is a fixture, therefore, that Arsenal should be aiming for three points from and settling for nothing less. Games against teams with nothing to play for should be ideal ones at this stage of the season but having lost to Palace and Brighton this week, that is not always the case for Arteta.
Chelsea (A) – Wednesday, April 20
It looked over the past week that Thomas Tuchel’s men could be about to hit a worrying rocky patch. A 4-1 loss to Brentford was followed by a 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid and the Blues’ tremendous defence appeared to be wobbling.
But they responded emphatically on Saturday. Southampton were the victims as Chelsea ran riot on the south coast. There is every chance that they will be in top form by the time of this fixture, or have nothing to play for whatsoever. With this being the Gunners game in hand on Spurs, greater importance is piled onto it.
Manchester United (H) – Saturday, April 23
A brutal trio of games for the Gunners continues just three days later with a trip to Old Trafford. On paper, there is no better time to face Ralph Rangnick’s team with the current campaign all but written off by the Red Devils.
Erik ten Hag appears set to take over from next season but Arsenal should remain wary. They have a poor record against United and a number of players may be looking to prove a point to their incoming boss by the time the sides meet.
West Ham (A) – Sunday, May 1
It has been another thoroughly impressive season for the Hammers with David Moyes continuing to endear himself to the London Stadium faithful. Arsenal got the better of them earlier this season but the Hammers have been impressive at home throughout the campaign.
Unlike the Gunners, however, they still have European football on their minds. If they progress past Lyon in the Europa League, Arteta’s men may well be able to capitalise on a distracted side. Relying on that would be ill-judged, however, and how the preceeding two games pan out could have a big impact on the result here.
Leeds (H) – Sunday, May 8
Jesse Marsch is starting to see a response to his arrival at Elland Road and the Whites brushed Watford aside this weekend – even keeping a rare clean sheet against the Hornets. There were serious concerns over relegation in West Yorkshire for most of the season but things are looking up now.
Arsenal blew Leeds away when they met earlier in the season with Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard and Gabriel Martinelli all on target, and only a win will do again when they clash at the Emirates.
Tottenham (A) – Thursday, May 12
Then we have the big one. A cynic could argue that this game has been deliberately rescheduled for late in the season in order to manufacture optimum drama. But who really cares?
As things stand, this fixture looks like it could be decisive in the race for fourth. But with Tottenham hitting their stride while Arsenal falter, there is every chance that the race will be wrapped up by the time this game rolls around.
Tottenham’s next six fixtures
Manchester United next six fixtures
West Ham’s next six fixtures
Manchester City (H)