Arsenal Focus – Champions League race heating up

With the Premier League season now entering its final stretch, matters remain tight at both the top and bottom of the table. The situation has never been closer within the immediate proximity of the relegation zone, with a whole host of clubs nervously looking over their shoulder. And though Manchester United look to have sealed the title, the race for the top four is still very much alive – with Arsenal in the thick of it.

Realistically, there are four clubs who are vying for two available Champions League qualification spots – Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, Arsenal and Everton (although, admittedly, Liverpool are just three points behind their Merseyside rivals and may maintain otherwise).

Spurs, who have played one game more than their rivals, and Rafael Benitez’s Chelsea currently occupy those two places on 57 and 55 points respectively. Arsenal are in fifth, two points further back while Everton, in sixth place, are the dark horses and currently find themselves on 51 points with eight games to go.

Arsene Wenger’s men may not be where they want to be in the league table at this moment in time, but what are the Gunners’ chances of continuing their spotless record of qualifying for Champions League football in every season since Wenger arrived in north London?

When considering form, Arsenal’s chances look good. Since the nearly miraculous almost turnaround in Munich last month, Wenger’s side have won their subsequent two league fixtures, against Swansea City and Reading, and have done so with some authority. However, unfortunately for the Gunners, they are not the only team to be keeping their cool at the right time.

Chelsea’s 2-1 defeat at Southampton was their only defeat in their last six matches on home soil while Tottenham were impressive in their own victory over Swansea last weekend. And Everton are on a real roll – winning their last three Premier League fixtures.

Where Arsenal will be boosted is when examining their run-in. The Gunners play just two of the top seven in the Premier League – both at the Emirates Stadium. And while Spurs have a similarly favourable run too, Benitez and David Moyes will be less welcoming.

The Blues have to play Liverpool, Manchester United and Everton – the first two matches of which are away from Stamford Bridge. The Toffees have an even tougher time of it, having to travel to Tottenham, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea before the season is over.

Another plus point for the Gunners is that they are out of all other cup competitions – something which can’t be said for Chelsea and Tottenham, who are still distracted by European and domestic cup exploits.

The next six weeks or so are vital for the futures of these four football teams. But Arsenal have plenty of reasons to be optimistic that they will be back in the Champions League next season.

See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on West Brom v Arsenal

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