Although perennial top-four finishers under Arsene Wenger, this season looks to be the most challenging season for many a year, with the likes of Southampton, Manchester United, Tottenham and Liverpool all vying for Champions League qualification, along with the Gunners.
The North London club can drop back out of the top four this evening, if Manchester United record a victory over Burnley at home, although the close competition is unlikely to decrease as the season progresses.
With Chelsea all but guaranteed top spot after Manchester City’s poor run of form, second place may also come up for grabs. With Manuel Pellegrini’s men faltering in the search for silverware, they could be just one point ahead of Southampton tonight dependant upon results, and that opens another potential finishing place in the race for Europe.
Considering the value of the Champions League to the elite Premier League clubs, with the financial and reputation benefits clear to see, securing a top-four placing at the close of the campaign is vitally important.
Although FA Cup and Champions League success is still on the table for the Gunners, midfielder Francis Coquelin has claimed that finishing in the top four is the most important thing for Arsenal this season.
Speaking to the Standard: “The most important thing is for us to get into the top four next season. It’s going to be hard for us to win the title as Chelsea are quite far ahead. If we stay consistent and keep winning games, you never know what can happen.”