Betting odds on Arsenal finishing in the top four this season were cut to 4/6 after a thumping 4-0 victory over Swansea at the weekend, but the Gunners are still fifth favourites to make the top four. The bookmakers think Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham and Man City all have a better chance than Arsenal of securing a lucrative Champions League place. It echoes the punditry of Paul Scholes, Owen Hargreaves and Robbie Savage on BT Sport on Saturday as each of them tipped Arsenal to finish outside the top four.
And then on Sunday, Man City were annihilated by Everton, while Liverpool and Man Utd both dropped points in the late game, drawing 1-1, and lo and behold, Arsenal finished the weekend in the top four. When will the pundits, the bookmakers and every other naysayer in the land wake up to the fact that Arsenal always finish in the top four? Arsene Wenger has been manager for two decades now and not once has he failed to do so. Last season Arsenal finished second and before that they finished third. They have not even struggled to make the top four in the last few years, yet these pundits just sit there writing Arsenal off, time and time again. If Wenger can steer Arsenal to the top four with the likes of Nicklas Bendtner, Emmanuel Eboue and Gervinho in the team, he should have no problem doing it now that the stadium has been paid off and he is able to spend serious money on the squad.
Stars like Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez are genuine game changers and Arsenal should have no fears of Europa League football. Bookmakers are offering betting odds of 4/6 on Arsenal reaching the top four, and you should bite their hands off for that. To be behind Man City is laughable after the way they capitulated against Everton. Arsenal have had their wobbles this season, but they have scored seven more goals than City and conceded four fewer. City have the worst defensive record in the top seven and their weak backline and lack of tactical nous keeps letting them down. There are also serious question marks over Liverpool’s defence, while a four-point lead over Man Utd has been restored.
Of course, top four is not enough and fans are rightly demanding more than simply to qualify for the Champions League again. Arsenal are eight points behind leaders Chelsea, with 51 points left to play for. Betting odds have Chelsea at 4/6 to win it, while Arsenal are out at 12/1. Tottenham, meanwhile, are as low as 13/2, and it would be a tragedy for Arsenal fans if the Gunners were to finish below Tottenham for the first time since the mid-1990s. Imagine a season without St Totteringham’s Day. It almost happened last season, but Spurs capitulated. This season Arsenal need to kick on and surge ahead of their North London rivals. It won’t be easy as Spurs are the league’s form team at present, but on their day Arsenal can beat anyone, and they have an intriguing run of games ahead.
Arsenal have back to back home games against Burnley, who have recorded just one point on the road all season, and then struggling Watford. Take six points from that and things start getting interesting, particularly as Tottenham play Man City next time out. Then it’s the big game as Arsenal travel to Chelsea. The Blues will be tired from playing Liverpool five days earlier, and Arsenal can capitalise. Play like they did when the teams met at The Emirates earlier this season and we could see a repeat of that 3-0 win. Chelsea are a much tougher nut to crack now that they have gone three at the back and won 14 of their last 15 games, but if Arsenal can do it the title race could be blown wide open by early February and that 12/1 will have shrunk rapidly, so get on it now if you think they can do it. You can also go each way and take a quarter of the odds if they finish second. If Arsenal are to ensure a St Totteringham’s Day this season, they could well have to finish in the top two, and Wenger has never failed to finish ahead of Tottenham, so that looks another interesting bet.