Arsenal FA Cup

With Arsenal already 5 points behind the league leaders, is this the season the lack of signings and quality additions finally spell the end for their European aspirations?

We take a look at some reasons for and against them extending their run in the top 4.

DEFENCE

Arsenal’s central defensive pairing for the first game of the season was Calum Chambers, and Rob Holding, a very green partnership that shipped in 4 goals. 

With senior defenders Gabriel Paulista and Per Mertesacker out, Arsenal has to be dependent on one of the two English defenders to partner Laurent Koscielny, who himself is rumoured to have some niggling injury issues.

INCREASED COMPETITION

Never in the recent history of the Premier League have there been so many established winners competing for the top places at the same time.

Pep Guardiola, Antonio Conte, Jose Mourinho and Jurgen Klopp have all won titles this decade, and the likes of Mauricio Pochettino, Slaven Bilic and Claudio Ranieri have all shown recently, that they have what it takes to make it at the highest level.

With so many high calibre opposition managers, this might be the season the Arsenal Champions League run grinds to a halt.

HOSTILE ATMOSPHERE

Towards the tail end of last season, the Emirates became a toxic atmosphere for the Gunners to play in as banners and songs of displeasure made it into the stadium.

With star players like Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil refusing to put pen to paper on their new contracts, and failure to sign a marquee striker, the hostility at the North London club might reach unprecedented heights this season.

Players do not play to their best when the crowd turns on them, and if the dissent starts early enough, it could hamper the team’s ability to produce in home games, ultimately costing them valuable points.

Why they will make the top 4 this season

ARSENE WENGER

If there are two things Arsene Wenger is good for, it’s getting Arsenal to the group stages of the Champions League, and making past the group stage in the competition.

Time and time again, many have tipped the Arsenal to finish below 4th, time and time again they prove the doubters wrong.

Arsene Wenger has dragged Arsenal from the brink into the Champions League places numerous times, even in the lean years when he had less talent to work with.

TEAM COHESION

The core of this Arsenal team have been together for a long time, and many forget that they finished in 2nd place last season.

With only one major signing to bed in, this Arsenal team understands each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and this might be a distinct advantage when it comes down to it.

Also, the big game experience of the likes of Petr Cech, Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Per Mertesacker should aid in getting the team into the top 4 if the going gets tough.

QUALITY OF OPPOSITION

The Manchester clubs are ahead of their rivals in the Premier League this season, because of the calibre of players they’ve signed and the quality of their managers. But outside those two, most of the other contenders for the top 4 places have do not have the squad strength and experience of Arsenal.

Conte’s Chelsea need a defender or two, Tottenham always contrive to finish below Arsenal, and Slaven Bilic might turn out to be a flash in the pan, Jurgen Klopp has been unconvincing since moving to the Premier League and Leicester City have not been as exciting in their opening two games of this season.

Arsenal might not be at their very best, but a lot still has to align for a lot of their rivals before they can beat them to the coveted Champions League spots come May.

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