In 12 months time, Arsenal could be preparing for their own last-16 Champions League second leg tie.
Beating Watford, coupled with results going their way over the weekend, means the Gunners now sit fourth in the Premier League table and with three games in hand over Manchester United, Mikel Arteta’s side are in control of their own destiny.
But there’s still a long way to go before Arsenal fans can dream about potential trips to the Allianz Arena, Santiago Bernabeu or the Parc des Princes next season.
Furthermore, finishing fourth may not guarantee a return to Europe’s top table as long as the Red Devils and West Ham United are still competing in the Champions League and Europa League, respectively.
Although, 82 points will be enough for Arsenal to win the top four battle ahead of Man United, West Ham and Tottenham Hotspur.
This is because Spurs – who currently sit seventh two points behind the Gunners – can reach 81 following their 5-0 thrashing of Everton on Monday night.
Man United’s maximum points total is 77 after they were beaten by Manchester City and defeat at the hands of Liverpool means the Hammers can finish the season on 75 points if they win their remaining 10 Premier League fixtures.
And as Arsenal have three games in hand over two of their rivals – albeit with the North London Derby to be rearranged and a trip to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea – they will be firmly in the driving seat to claim the coveted fourth spot if they take maximum points from those fixtures.
Of course, it should be noted that as there are games between the top four rivals still to be played, only one side – as unlikely as it is – has a chance of ending the season with a perfect winning record.
As a result, a points total lower than 82 should be enough for Champions League qualification.
Since Arsenal last finished in the top four – almost six years ago when they were runners up to Leicester City – the required points total for the final Champions League entry position has declined in each year from 76 points in 2016/17 to 67 points last season.
In fact, at least 67 points have been enough for a fourth-placed finish in each of the last two Premier League seasons, but worryingly for the Gunners is the fact their highest points total in this period is 61.
If this trend continues for a third successive season then Arsenal would need another 19 points to reach the 67 points total which, in an ideal scenario, works out to six wins and a draw from their remaining 13 fixtures.
However, the fact that the Gunners have twice accrued 70 points or more in the past five seasons and still haven’t ended their Champions League absence shows they may need to aim for 78 points just to be sure, as that would guarantee them to finish above Man United and West Ham.
That would require a further 12 points which works out to another four wins and Spurs losing and drawing once in the perfect scenario.
With that said, it’s looking like if Arsenal can win between eight to 10 of their remaining 13 fixtures, they will have a great chance of coming out on top in this exciting race for Champions League qualification.
Arsenal’s remaining fixtures
13/03 – Leicester City (h)
16/03 – Liverpool (h)
19/03 – Aston Villa (a)
04/04 – Crystal Palace (a)
09/04 – Brighton (h)
16/04 – Southampton (a)
23/04 – Man United (h)
30/04 – West Ham (a)
07/05 – Leeds United (h)
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15/05 – Newcastle United (a)
22/05 – Everton (h)
TBD – Tottenham (a)
TBD – Chelsea (a)