A run of four consecutive Premier League wins has given Arsenal one final shot at ensuring they’re competing on the continent for a 27th straight year.
It’s an impressive run – an English record and only bettered in Europe by Real Madrid – but it looked to be coming to end following a string of poor results saw them needing a huge change in fortunes heading into May.
This was, of course, before Manchester City beat Tottenham in the Carabao Cup Final to ensure the Premier League’s 7th placed team would qualify for the inaugural UEFA Europa Conference League.
Posing as Europe’s third tier club competition and registering much less interest than Euro 2021 odds are seeing right now, the Europa Conference League offers more countries the chance to be represented by their clubs in Europe each season, and Arsenal can now hope they’re England’s representatives in the competition next term.
Four Premier League wins on the bounce against Newcastle, West Brom, Chelsea and Crystal Palace, as well as numerous clubs above them dropping points in recent weeks, has lifted the Gunners to within one point of 7th placed Spurs going into the final game of the season.
Mikel Arteta’s men host Brighton, who beat Manchester City earlier this week, on Sunday, while Spurs travel to top-four hopefuls Leicester City. The permutations needed for Arsenal to finish 7th are clear: the Gunners must register all three points against Brighton and hope Leicester beat Spurs. Everton are also in the mix, as they’re level on points with Spurs in 8th, but they travel to Man City on the final day, who will be looking to give their fans a celebratory win before lifting the Premier League trophy for a 5th time.
All Arteta needs to do is ensure his side beats Brighton and then hope other results go their way, but it’s crazy that it has come to this for one of the Premier League’s biggest clubs.
Years of uncertainty, instability and poor recruitment since Arsene Wenger’s departure has led to the Gunners falling further behind the top-flight’s powerhouses, and have been replaced this season by the likes of Leicester and West Ham in the fight to compete in the Champions League next term.
That is simply unacceptable for a club of Arsenal’s stature and Arteta has a huge job on his hands to arrest the slide and start driving the Gunners back in to the top six at the very least.
European competition or not, another campaign like this one for Arsenal could be disastrous and would surely spell the end of Arteta’s reign in the Emirates hot seat. But they qualify for the Europa Conference League, the Spaniard might just live to fight another day.