As the English Premier League draws to its conclusion, the fate of several clubs could well be decided on the last day of the season. While the title would be heading back to Old Trafford, the fight for the remaining three Champions League spots is gaining pace, with nine points covering four teams. For Arsenal, an exit from the Champions League would be disastrous and manager, Arsene Wenger was quick to acknowledge that reality. “Qualifying for the Champions League is massive for us. We want to be there and I don’t envisage anything else.”
Like previous seasons, Arsenal has struggled with inconsistent performances. Their inability to start or finish games has seen the Gunners drop several points this season. Whatever the outcome, the Gunners will look back to 5 defining moments of the season.
1. Manchester City (Away; 23-09-2012): A game which saw two defenders (Lescott & Koscielny) scoring, was anything but subdued. While the Gunners trailed at half-time, it was their sheer grit and determination which saw them going level in the dying minutes of the game. With the draw, Arsenal had remained unbeaten in all competitions. Result 1-1; Points 1.
2. QPR (Home; 27-10-2012): After a turbulent few weeks for the Gunners, a win against QPR was just what the doctor ordered. What should have been a comfortable victory against the league strugglers was anything but easy. The controversial goal from Arteta, which could have been deemed offside, was enough to secure victory and three points for the Gunners. Result 1-0; Points 3.
3. Fulham (Home; 10-11-2012): After starting the game in emphatic fashion, the Gunners found themselves with a two goal cushion after just 23 minutes. However, they lost the initiative and with the game hanging in the balance, were awarded a penalty. Arteta failed to convert the opportunity (saved well by Schwarzer) and Arsenal was dealt a massive blow. Two points dropped which could still come back to haunt them. Result 3-3; Points 1.
4. Liverpool (Home; 30-09-2013): With another sloppy start to the game the Gunners found themselves with a mountain to climb and claw back a two goal deficit. However, within a span of three minutes, goals from Giroud and Walcott drew the Gunners level. Several chances were squandered as the game ended in a stalemate. A point gained or two dropped will only be known at the end of the season. Result 2-2; Points 1.
5. Sunderland (Away 09-02-2013): Playing Sunderland away is never an easy task, yet the Gunners found themselves in the lead. Jenkinson’s careless tackles saw him earning red, leaving Arsenal in a spot of bother. For over 30 minutes the Gunners defended valiantly and, world class saves from Szczesny ensured all three points for Arsenal. Result 1-0; Points 1.
With nine games to go this season, the Gunners have to play each game like a cup final and no opponent should be taken lightly. Finishing in a Champions League spot, would help the manager, look forward to yet another season competing with Europe’s elite. Failure could be detrimental for the club.