Arsenal must save their season by beating Manchester United

Arsenal have given themselves a fighting chance of finishing in the top four, but must beat Manchester United to stay in the hunt.

Arsenal's problems this season have been well documented, after their worst ever start to a Premier League campaign and being knocked out of both domestic cup competitions by lower league opposition.

A loss to Spurs a few weeks back seemed set to condemn them to fifth, but a run of victories punctuated by just the one draw at Everton has seen their hopes revived.

Now Arsenal have a great chance of finishing in the top four, but having got back into a position where they can do so, they need not to fall away again.

This means beating Manchester United at the Emirates on Sunday; forget all the Van Persie return hype; winning on the pitch is what matters to Arsenal.

Arsenal are currently on 63 points in third, but Chelsea and Tottenham on 62 and 61 both have a game in hand, albeit against each other.

Given Arsenal's late kick-off on Sunday against United, they will go into the match against United level on games played, and understanding exactly what is required.

Given the fact Spurs face Wigan, and Chelsea host Swansea, there is a very good chance both clubs will have leapfrogged Arsenal by time the Gunners host United.

It won't be quite that simple, Wigan are battling for their lives at the foot of the table and Chelsea will be coming off the back of a Europa League tie, but should both clubs win, the pressure will be all on Arsenal.

With only three games remaining after the Arsenal-United clash for the Gunners, it is a match which will shape their run-in.

Win, and the pressure is all on their rivals who have to play each other, meaning one if not both will drop points. The smart money if Arsenal beat United will seriously be upon the Gunners securing a top four place.

However if they lose, it has the potential to undo all the recent good work. They will once again be chasing, and crossing their fingers results go their way, while needing to maintain a 100 per cent record over their last three games; against QPR, Wigan, and away to Newcastle.

The Van Persie goings on will be a distraction, but Arsenal need to remain focused on the pivotal encounter. The possibility of an under-strength and more relaxed United side already with the title wrapped up is certainly a plus, but the Gunners should simply make sure they bring their A-game and believe they can get the vital win.

Is Arsenal's game against United the pivotal one for their season? Can they do it?

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

Register for ARSENAL team updates

Register for MANCHESTER UNITED team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch