Arsenal have improved their chances of finishing in fourth position but there is a nightmare scenario where that wouldn’t secure them Champions League football next season
Arsenal could face a nightmare scenario of finishing in the top four but not qualifying for the Champions League.
The Gunners have improved their chances of finishing in the position behind the trio of Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea after three straight wins, including Sunday’s 3-2 victory over Watford.
Meanwhile, their nearest rivals Manchester United suffered a disastrous derby defeat to Pep Guardiola’s side and the Hammers came up short against the Reds at Anfield.
The north Londoners are sitting in fourth a point clear of Ralf Rangnick’s Red Devils having played three games fewer.
Roy Keane reckons Arsenal are now favorites to finish fourth but there is a chance – albeit a long shot – where that might not be enough to secure Champions League football next season.
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If United win the Champions League and West Ham win the Europa League – and neither finish in the top four – then only the top three in the Premier League would qualify for the Champions League.
This is because of a change in UEFA regulations back in 2013, which states no more than five teams from the same league can compete in Europe’s elite competition.
Mikel Arteta isn’t looking too far ahead, however, with a tricky run of fixtures over the remaining 13 games including Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham.
“To be fair, I don’t like to look at the table a lot because we have games in hand, we’re going to play different fixtures and I know the objective and it’s only one, to try and improve tomorrow on what we ‘ve done today and go into the next match and that’s it, “the Spaniard said in his post-match press conference, following Arsenal’s win over Watford.
“I cannot control results and I cannot predict which matches we are going to win, draw or lose, it’s impossible.
“If I start to do that I think we’re going to lose focus in what we want to do.”
Keane has performed a drastic U-turn in his predictions for the top four race as he believed his former club United were in pole position after their win over Leeds.
But he now believes Arsenal are on course to secure fourth place.
The pundit was impressed with the Gunners’ late win over Wolves at the Emirates, which proved to him they are not a “soft” team, something they have been widely criticized for in recent seasons.
He told Sky Sports: “It’s been an amazing turnaround considering where they were at the start of the season, and now they’re probably favorites to finish in the top four.
“We’ve always questioned whether there’s a bit of softness to them but they’re in a good moment and they’ve always had that quality.
“Against Wolves they found a way to win the football match, they kept going and grabbed a late goal, that’s the key to success, you can have your off days but you find a way to win and it was a huge three points for them . “