After the 2-1 defeat against rivals Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane on Sunday, Arsenal followers will be depressed as a chance to improve their standing in relation to the other Champions League qualification contenders, Chelsea and Tottenham, went by unclaimed.
The north London derby was tightly contested and Arsenal looked in control for the first half an hour, but Welsh wizard Gareth Bale broke through the Gunners defence in the 37th minute while a clever run and good finish by Aaron Lennon less than two minutes later put Tottenham 2-0 up at the break.
Arsenal fought back and had a few good chances in the second half with Per Mertesacker finding the net in the 50th minute. It was not to be Arsenal’s day however and Spurs triumphed, putting them seven points ahead of their rivals in the race for the top four.
But the Gunners should keep their chins up as they have a few ‘easier’ fixtures coming up while rivals Spurs’ next run of matches will not be as simple. Arsenal will therefore have the opportunity of gaining some lost ground in the race for the top four.
In the next six game weeks, Tottenham will face Liverpool at Anfield, Fulham at home, Swansea away, Everton at home, Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and then Manchester City at home.
Arsenal have a slightly less demanding schedule. They will play against Swansea at the Liberty Stadiium next; then they face Reading at home; then West Brom away; Norwich at the Emirates after that; then Everton also at home, and the sixth against Fulham at Craven Cottage.
So while both Spurs and Arsenal will play against Swansea, Everton and Fulham, Arsenal will have the advantage of playing against ‘lesser’ sides such as Reading – who are struggling to get out of the relegation zone; West Brom – who are doing surprisingly well this season and just holding on to a top ten spot in ninth at the moment; and Norwich who find themselves in thirteenth currently.
Tottenham on the other hand, will have the challenging task of playing against top four sides Chelsea and Man City while Liverpool is never an easy fixture – especially at Anfield and with the form Suarez is currently enjoying.
Spurs also have the Europa League to concentrate on with a tough tie against Inter Milan coming up. Arsenal however have been dumped out of all competitions with the exception of the Champions League away leg at Bayern Munich, and with a reversal of the 3-1 home defeat highly unlikely, the Emirates men should have the sole mission of finishing in the top four of the Premier League to secure their spot in next season’s elite continental competition.
Fortunately for Arsenal their other main competition for a place in the top four, Chelsea, will also have to travel to Anfield in one of their upcoming matches as well as face Tottenham at home of course.
Gunners’ tactician Arsene Wenger should focus all his energy and resources on the next six Premier League matches to get maximum points if Arsenal are going to have any chance to beat Tottenham or Chelsea to a top four spot.
All is not lost for Wenger and his men, but it’s going to require a mammoth effort and fierce determination to reach the objective of Champions League qualification.
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