The Premier League is well and truly entering the home straight, with just eight games remaining of Unai Emery’s first season in charge.
The Gunners currently occupy an all-important Champions League place but remain in the midst of a four-way battle for two positions, with any of the clubs involved still capable of success.
Emery’s men have the advantage as it stands but what does recent history tell us about how Arsenal fare in these crucial final games of the season?
The good news is, Gunners fans have cause to be optimistic. Our record over the last five seasons is a strong one – particularly in the run in.
Points earned: 15
Points earned: 21
Points earned: 16
Points earned: 15
Points earned: 17
Arsenal average 16.8 points from the last eight Premier League matches. If we apply that average to our current standings, that would move us onto 76 or 77 points by the end of the campaign. In general, about 75 points has proved enough to take a Champions League spot looking at the Premier League table over that same period.
As it stands, therefore, we are well placed and we have our destiny in our own hands to boot. We can actually afford to be average.
Typically, we have found ourselves in the chasing position in recent years so it will be interesting to see how the Gunners manage from a position of strength.
The other advantage Emery’s men have is that they won’t have to face any of their fellow top-six sides in the run in. It is an unusual quirk of the fixture list and is an advantage enjoyed but none of our other rivals for the top spots.
In fact, if Liverpool take care of Spurs at Anfield on Sunday, Arsenal will have the opportunity to move into third place by the end of Monday – a moment that might yet prove a turning point as Tottenham are renowned for going a bit ‘Spursy’ under pressure.
A note of caution, however. Of our remaining eight matches, five are away from home and our struggles on the road in the last two years are infamous. Getting results at the likes of Watford, Everton and Leicester has proven particularly troublesome for Arsenal sides and our defensive issues are certain to make that task much harder.
It is far from done and dusted.
At the very least, though, Emery has taken arguably the worst squad in the top six and manoeuvred it into contention in a way only the wildest of optimists would have expected. Having come this far, it would be brilliant to see them bring it home and a fantastic cause for optimism if Emery is handed another two or three transfer windows to really build the squad as he likes.