Just under a week ago, Arsenal have been written off by fans and pundits alike in the race for the top four. But now, after a sensational 4-1 win at the expense of Stoke City at the Bet365 Stadium on Saturday, which saw them move to within a point of fourth-placed Liverpool, it seems Arsenal can pull off the unthinkable just yet.
While Stoke City did manage to score a goal thanks to Peter Crouch, a brace from polarising figure Olivier Giroud, as well as goals from superstars Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez in the second half made sure the Gunners had a comfortable win against the Staffordshire giants.
The win has propelled Arsenal to 69 points, just a point adrift of Liverpool in fourth, with just two games left in the season. It’s going to be a rocky two weeks for the Anfield outfit, it appears.
But this was not the situation just two weeks ago. Gunners fans were vehemently calling for Arsene Wenger’s head when Arsenal suffered defeat against Tottenham just before the end of April. By then, the Gunners have only won four of their last eleven games, which saw them banished in seventh place, eight points adrift of the top four.
But now, the tide has shifted and it appears Arsenal are on course to finish in the top four for the twentieth consecutive year and secure yet again qualification for the Champions League next season – although they do need results elsewhere to go their way to stand a hefty chance of finishing in the top four, and Arsenal striker Giroud agrees.
Liverpool, currently in fourth, face West Ham on Sunday, and the French striker hopes the Hammers can do Arsenal a favour.
“Obviously we have to do the job. We have to focus on our games but to be honest with you I will be a big fan of West Ham tomorrow! They have all my support,” Giroud said in an interview.
Then again, Giroud may find solace in the past, as history is on Arsenal’s side, it seems. During the 2013-14 season, Arsenal suffered pretty much the same fate. The North London heavyweights were fifth on the table by April, buffed away by a resilient Everton, who were in fourth at that time. But Arsenal soldiered on and clinched the coveted fourth-placed just three weeks before the season ended.
The story would be the same the season before. During the 2012-13 campaign, just two games before the season came to a close, Arsenal were in fifth, two points away from fierce rivals Tottenham. But after winning their game in hand, Arsenal sauntered to and secured a fourth place finish in nail-biting fashion.
The list goes on and on: The 2010-11, 2008-09, 2006-07, 2005-06 seasons show the same story. Arsenal clinched fourth in the end.
Will the same happen this year? Only time can tell, and the clock is winding down fast.