As Chelsea and Manchester city battle it out for the Premier League title, a host of teams are fighting over the two remaining Champions league spots. As things stand, Southampton and Manchester United are third and fourth sports respectively, though Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool and even West Ham are aiming to break into the top four. Out of the six contenders, it may be safe to say that Arsenal will qualify to next year’s edition of the Champions League.
History has proven that Arsene Wenger has been able to lead his team to Champions League football every single season since 1997. Despite having troubles in previous seasons, Arsenal was always among the top four and given their current form, they can leapfrog Manchester United by February – only one point separates the two clubs from each other. Manchester United were able to turn the tides and grab six consecutive wins between November and December, but they weren’t convincing on the pitch, winning some of the games by a margin of just one goal. After that, United played five Premier League games and only managed a single win against Newcastle United.
Southampton were without a win in five games, but they managed to return to winning ways during their past five games as they grabbed four victories including ones against Arsenal, Everton and Manchester United and one draw against Chelsea. They look to be solid and mentally ready to challenge the big clubs but their experience and lack of depth may hinder them from retaining their position. Liverpool and Tottenham are finally finding their feet this season, but their presence in the Europa League could distract them from trying to catch up with the top four. Finally, West Ham, have been dull recently as they depend on set-pieces and long balls, their recent form has put them at least temporarily out of the picture especially considering they lack creative players who can win matches on their own.
Despite having a problem or two at the back, Arsenal’s 4-2-3-1 made it possible for the club to make the best out the three players playing in the third line: Santi Cazorla, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Alexis Sanchez have been playing their best football this term. Alex has already played in 20 games this season, more than any of his previous ones at the club, this time around he’s playing more centrally, contributing to both attacking and defensive plays as he’s able to make use of his energy and stamina. He’s been doing all the dirty work to make sure Cazorla and Sanchez have it slightly easier at the front. As Alexis Sanchez continues with his heroic acts at the club, Arsenal’s attack is safe but the Gunners need to address a few of their issues at the back, they could make use of the transfer window period and sign a defensive midfielder or a central defender to bolster their back-line instead of using full backs in the wrong positions.
The race for the Champions League spots won’t be won anytime soon, it will certainly go till the final week of the league but only those who have the squad depth and quality players can challenge for the spots and Arsenal seem to be one of the two teams that could just make it.