Will Arsenal finish in the Top Four again? They should.

IMAGE, ARSENAL.COM

BY MATTHEW LEVINE
Staff Writer

Arsenal have been a brand of consistency or mediocrity, depending on who you ask. Under Arsene Wenger, the Gunners have yet to miss out on Champions League qualification. Nothing is ever guaranteed in the beautiful game, and again, Arsenal’s place in the Top Four is being challenged.

When the games dwindle to nil, they should once again remain. Here are a couple of reasons why:

Different year, similar story

The end of another thrilling Barclays Premier League season is nearing its finale. Arsenal again are teetering on the brink of missing Champions League for next season. Sound familiar? Almost every season, the Gunners find themselves in the same predicament. A new challenger comes along to test Arsenal for the remaining Top Four spot. Aston Villa did it back in the 2008-09 and stumbled. In the 2010-11 season, Tottenham couldn’t catch them. Tottenham again fell just short in the 2012-13. In the other years during that span, Arsenal finished third.

This year, it’s Everton looking to crash the Gunners’ party. After controlling their own fate, the Toffees stumbled against Crystal Palace. The day before, Arsenal had beaten West Ham 3-1 to now hold the lead in the race for fourth.

There is something to be said for having experience in this situation. The Gunners are at least very used to this end of the year battle and continually come out on top.

Could the pressure for Everton’s bid become too great?

Arsenal Getting Stronger

The Gunners have suffered several key injuries in recent weeks. However, they are soon to return. Aaron Ramsey, who just came back, has shown what Arsenal missed without him. His runs, box-to-box play and ball-winning ability in his substitute performances proves how much better the Gunners are with him in the side. They’ve also missed his goals, as Ramsey was scoring regularly before the injury.

Now more reinforcements are on the way. Laurent Koscielny started against West Ham, Mesut Ozil and Jack WIlshere will add more depth to the midfield and Nacho Monreal could return to give Arsenal a fit left-back, with Kieran Gibbs soon to follow.

With more options returning for the final four matches, the Gunners should be much improved.

The Fixture List

Games are certainly not won on paper — just ask Manchester City who dropped points to Sunderland. However, in the remaining four matches, the fixture list favors Arsenal.

The Gunners have an FA Cup final preview away to Hull, two home matches with Newcastle and West Brom and then finish the season away to Norwich. The Baggies and Canaries are both at the bottom of the table, while the Magpies are in relegation form, losing five of their last six.

For the Toffees last four, they host Manchester United, travel to face Southampton, back at home against City and away to Hull for the finale. Both Manchester clubs present challenges and Southampton is a top half of the table side.

In the end, Arsenal could very well slip up and open the door again for Everton, but they do have the balance tipped in their favor heading into the four matches. If history has told us anything, the Gunners always come through for the final English spot in the Champions League, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see them do it again.