Arsenal’s 2-1 win at Old Trafford over Manchester United in the quarter final of the FA Cup could well turn to be a catalyst as we approach the business end of the running campaign. Arsene Wenger’s side sit third in the Premier League standings with ten games remaining and are on the cusp of a domestic cup final.
It might not look bright in Europe but their newly found resolve could well change their fate from being on the brink of Champions League elimination. Here is an assessment of the Gunners’ chances in every tournament they find themselves in at this stage of the current season.
FA CUP: Arsenal should fancy themselves to defend the FA Cup as they will face either Reading or giant killers Bradford City in a winnable tie in the semi-final. However the game will be sandwiched between a difficult away trip to relegation threatened Burnley and a home clash against League leaders Chelsea.
Arsene Wenger would be desperate to finish the season with a piece of silverware which means he will extra motivated even if he faces highly flying Liverpool in the final. The Reds would also love to give their captain Steven Gerrard a warm sending off if they reach the final, which incidentally is on the skipper’ birthday. But I expect Arsenal to defend their crown.
Champions League: Having conceded three away goals, it will be a herculean task for the Gunners when they travel to France in their attempt to overturn a 3-1 loss against Monaco. Leonardo Jardim’s side are overwhelming favourites to reach the last eight but as the last couple of years have shown, the Gunners do pack a punch when they have their backs against the wall.
They beat Bayern Munich 2-0 in Germany in 2013 but lost on away goals with an aggregate score of 3-3 over two legs. Beating nouveau riche Monaco won’t be easy in the south of France but if they get a goal early, it could be interesting. Having said that, I don’t feel they can get three away goals to move into the quarter finals.
Verdict: Will crash out of the last 16
Premier League: One of Premier League’s proverbial truths: Arsenal will always finish in the top four, no matter what. This time around it will be the toughest in recent years with Liverpool, Manchester United, Tottenham and Southampton all in hot pursuit of an elite Champions League berth for next season. The Gunners have 6 home games which should tilt the scales in their favour.
The North London side though will have two matches against their potential top four rivals, Liverpool at home and Manchester United away. They travel to Old Trafford for their penultimate league fixture of the season, one that could well decide their fate. Besides, tough away fixtures at relegation threatened Burnley and Hull City will be tricky while hosting Champions elect Chelsea is never easy.
Arsenal though have a great against teams in the bottom-half of the table and going by their recent games in which they grind out victories, it would be tough to see them finish outside a Champions League berth.
Verdict: Top Four finish
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