Following West Ham’s victory over WBA on Wednesday, 6th place is now out of reach for The Arsenal.
It was probably the point against Brighton that secured their first finish above Arsenal in my living memory, as it means they only needed to win one of their last 2 games.
Arsenal’s late, late victory of Crystal Palace however keeps Arsenal in the hunt for 7th place and a spot in the Europa Conference League.
UEFA’s new invention is not really a valid competition, and you feel bigger sides will put out even weaker sides than they do in the Europa League.
I would expect Arsenal, if they qualify, to not take it seriously and put out the U23 team; ensuring they keep the first team squad focused during the week on that weekends game.
The Europa Conference League was invented by UEFA as they attempted to make the Europa League more competitive – reducing teams from 48 to 32 teams in the group stage of European footballs second competition.
Whilst I like the idea of a 3rd competition for the lower-ranked UEFA member associations, it seems fairly pointless having the teams that finished 6th (or 7th if their major cup winners have already qualified for Europe) enter it.
To highlight how much of a joke the competition is, Arsenal, Roma and Villareal could all qualify for next seasons Europa Conference League. They made up 3 of the 4 semi finalists in this seasons Europa League alongside Manchester United.
So UEFA’s attempt to make the Europa League “stronger” has actually made it weaker by excluding the qualification of 3 of the 4 semi finalists.
I hope if Arsenal do make it, they do not include the games in the cost of the season ticket, and sell tickets for a tenner like they do in the League Cup.
Oh, and the final is in Albania…
So we go into the last game of the season favourites to finish 7th.
Arsenal face Brighton at home, whilst Tottenham travel to Leicester City and Everton to Manchester City.
Leicester City still have Champions League qualification in their sight, so will not be suffering from an FA Cup hangover.
Everton have a chance against Manchester City if Pep Guardiola decides to make wholesale changes ahead of the Champions League Final – but even City’s 2nd string should be enough to overcome the Toffees.
So despite being awful this season, Arsenal could end up 7th, ahead of Tottenham and Everton.
Arsenal’s current run of 4 league games in a row is already the best under Mikel Arteta and the best run since Arsenal won 7 in a row during the early days of Unai Emery’s first season.
Victory over Brighton in the last game will at least mean Arsenal end the season on a high, and confidence that they can go into next season knowing the dark days are in the past..What has cost Arsenal this season is that run of 1 win and 2 draws from 10 games. 5 points gained from 30.
Since we beat Chelsea on Boxing Day, we have shown top 3 form – with only Manchester City and Manchester United getting more points.
There have been disappointments – the draw against Burnley, draw against Fulham and defeat at home to Everton – but overall Arsenal have shown solid form since that Chelsea victory – a run of 23 games.
If Manchester United fail to beat Wolves on Sunday, Arsenal will be in a position where only Manchester City gained more points in the last 24 games of the season.
And that is what we need to cling to over the summer – that Arsenal are a top 3 team under Mikel Arteta that just went through an usually poor run where we were devoid of confidence and a lot of key decisions went against us.
I am confident that under Arteta, we will continue our recent form and mount a top 4 challenge next season.
A 7th (or even 8th or 9th) place finish this season will be disappointing. But we need to look at the positives of the last 23 games, rather than the negatives of the first 14.
We move forward stronger together.