Arsenal fans to Bernd Leno: We’ll have what you’re having.
The Arsenal goalkeeper made a bold claim on Monday at Arsenal’s London Colney training ground, stating that he and his teammates still held the belief that the Gunners could finish the season in the top four, earning a place in next year’s UEFA Champions League group stage. While mathematically possible, Arsenal’s margin of error is razor-thin, with just one win in its last 13 games and the club currently nine-points back of fourth-place Chelsea.
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If newly-appointed manager Mikel Arteta could get Arsenal into next year’s Champions League, he’d instantly be a Coach of the Year favorite and may even have a bronze statue of himself commissioned by the club. That’s how bad it has become at the Emirates, and for this year, a fourth-place finish may truly feel like a trophy.
“Of course, because there are still many games,” Leno told the London Evening Standard. “We play against all the top six. We have a lot of opportunities to win against them. We still believe. It is in our hands. We have to show [the right] mentality, we have to play good football and I think we will have opportunities.”
Speaking of Big Six opponents (and assuming we’re still including Manchester United in this discussion), Arsenal and Arteta get two of them in Chelsea and Man United before New Years Day comes and passes. Arsenal still has an away match at Chelsea, is away to Tottenham, away to Man City and home against Leicester City, Liverpool and Sheffield United to come. Should Arsenal do it, they’ll have to make an impressive turnaround with a current unbalanced and unsettled squad.