The Gunners have a nervy end to the season approaching as they MUST finish third as chances are a fourth place finish might not guarantee Champions League football next season.
Arsenal face the physical Stoke city this weekend, a team they have struggled against as they have loot their last three out of four away games to the Potters. Then they have their final home game against Norwich followed by a tricky away match to relegation battling West Brom. The Gunners have struggled against lower table opposition recently mainly due to their negative defensive tactics, so the final three matches will be hard work.
But it is imperative that Wenger’s men finish third because of two reasons – automatic qualification and the fact that there may only be three Champions League spots if Chelsea win the prestigious European competition in May.
1. Automatic qualification
Last season Arsenal had to overcome a tough Udinese side to qualify for the Champions League, and with the growing strength of teams around Europe next seasons qualification round will not be easy. Another big consequence with the qualifiers is the return to training earlier than usual as they prepare for the fixture which takes place at the beginning of the Premier League season.
With a host of Arsenal first teamer’s heading to the Euro 2012 championships over the summer, Wenger will want to rest his star players for as long as possible after the tournament to prevent burnout.
2. If Chelsea might claim the claim the fourth qualifying spot
Arsenal’s fellow Londoners Chelsea will take the fourth qualifying spot regardless of where they finish in the league if they manage to pip Bayern Munich in the final next month.
This is a result of an earlier fiasco when Liverpool won the Champions League in 2006 and they finished fifth so England ended up with 5 teams in the competition much to the displeasure of the other clubs and countries.
But despite these two situations applying more pressure on the Gunners they are well and truly in the driving seat with fourth placed Newcastle still needing to face Chelsea, Manchester City and Everton. Meanwhile Tottenham have some tough tasks of their own against the likes of Fulham and battling Bolton but both sides do have a game in hand.
Can the Gunners do it? Certainly, but they will have to win at least two of their remaining three games and they might be able to afford a draw but NO losses.