Arsenal’s hopes of sealing a top-four spot in the Premier League this season are realistically over.
Having been a few, not many, to claim one of the Champions League spots up for grabs when the campaign begun – the harsh reality is that they sit ninth in the table – nine points off where they need to be.
Chelsea are currently in pole position to finish fourth, but West Ham United, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Everton all have a realistic chance of overtaking the Blues.
One saving grace for the Gunners is the Europa League, as the winners of that competition will be rewarded with a place at Europe’s top table next season.
Arsenal have a great chance of reaching lifting the trophy after being paired with Slavia Prague in the quarter-final and could face Unai Emery’s Villarreal side in the last four.
But Mikel Arteta’s side can’t afford to place all their eggs into the Europa League basket as failure to win the competition could leave them without Europa League football next season.
For Arsenal, finishing in the top-six has to be the aim, and they currently trail fifth-placed West Ham by seven points which doesn’t seem too far out of reach.
Ahead of facing Liverpool, we have taken a look at how the Gunners’ run-in compares to their rivals for a top-six spot.
03/04 – Liverpool (h)
11/04 – Sheffield United (a)
18/04 – Fulham (h)
23/04 – Everton (h)
01/05 – Newcastle United (a)
08/05 – West Brom (h)
12/05 – Chelsea (a)
15/05 – Crystal Palace (a)
23/05 – Brighton (h)
Verdict: Arsenal’s Achilles heel this season has been their consistency. On paper, games against Liverpool, Everton and Chelsea are the toughest, but this side could easily slip up against the sides battling relegation.
Simply put, the Gunners have little margin for error if they want to finish in the top-six.
West Ham United
05/04 – Wolves (A)
11/04 – Leicester City (H)
17/04 – Newcastle United (A)
24/04 – Chelsea (H)
01/05 – Burnley (A)
08/05 – Everton (H)
11/05 – Brighton & Hove Albion (A)
15/05 – West Brom (A)
23/05 – Southampton (H)
Verdict: David Moyes’ side can’t be taken lightly and have as good of a chance as everyone else to claim Champions League or Europa League football for next season.
Games against Wolves, Leicester City, Chelsea and Everton will be key as it could provide Arsenal with a chance to close the gap ahead of the final weeks of the campaign.
04/04 – Newcastle United (A)
11/04 – Manchester United (H)
17/04 – Everton (A)
01/05 – Sheffield United (H)
08/05 – Leeds United (A)
12/05 – Wolves (H)
15/05 – Aston Villa (H)
23/05 – Leicester City (A)
TBC – Southampton (H)
Verdict: On paper, Spurs’ run-in is rather kind and with no more Europa League distractions, there is a good chance they even battle for a top-four spot.
Arsenal’s best chance of overtaking their bitter rivals is if they drop points against Man United, Everton and Leicester City.
03/04 – Arsenal (A)
10/04 – Aston Villa (H)
17/04 – Leeds United (A)
24/04 – Newcastle United (H)
01/05 – Manchester United (A)
08/05 – Southampton (H)
11/05 – West Brom (A)
15/05 – Burnley (A)
23/05 – Crystal Palace (H)
Verdict: Saturday’s game at the Emirates will have a huge bearing on who finishes higher between these two sides.
Arsenal will need to beat Liverpool and hope their inconsistent form returns thereafter if they’re to finish above last season’s champions of England.
The summer transfer window is just around the corner.
And the rumour mill is already starting to pick up speed.
Arsenal will not have a huge amount of money to spend, but Mikel Arteta will be hoping to make a number of moves, with loanee Martin Odegaard high up the list of priorities to bring in on a permanent deal.
But who would you sign? Get involved in our transfer window debate here.
05/04 – Crystal Palace (H)
12/04 – Brighton & Hove Albion (A)
17/04 – Tottenham (H)
24/04 – Arsenal (A)
01/05 – Aston Villa (H)
08/05 – West Ham (A)
11/05 – Sheffield United (H)
15/05 – Wolves (H)
23/05 – Man City (A)
TBC – Aston Villa (A)
Verdict: Just like Arsenal, consistency is a problem for Everton. But they’ve been better away from Goodison Park of late, so can’t be ruled out.
However, games against their rivals for a Champions League/Europa League spot could be a bridge too far for Carlo Ancelotti’s side.