Analyzing Arsenal's 2 routes to get back to Champions League football
Arsenal have had a rollercoaster season this time around, to say the least. Be it the shining performances of their summer signings or their poor away form, their abysmal defending or their European success, the Gunners have been as unpredictable as ever.
With the arrival of Unai Emery, however, the team has arguably improved, and the Arsenal fans have been delighted many times over with some graceful football. Masterclass performances over the likes of Leicester City, Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester United have left the fans yearning for more.
Arsenal's journey in the Europa League too has been something unexpected. Shock defeats to BATE Borisov and Rennes and then subsequent comebacks and impeccable defending against Italian giants Napoli have finally led to their semifinal draw against Valencia.
In the Premier League however, things have been changing - more for worse than for better. The Gunners managed to get an away win in eons against a 10-man Watford but have since seen back-to-back defeats to Crystal Palace and the Wolves. Whilst the former brought an end to their incredible home run, the latter once again exposed their defensive frailties.
Arsenal travel to Leicester this Sunday in hopes to again return to their winning ways. Barring a first half own goal by Hector Bellerin (who redeemed himself later on with two assists), the Gunners were absolutely rampant at the Emirates the last time around. Mesut Ozil left everyone breathless with a masterful performance, scoring one and assisting another as they went on to win 3-1 against the Foxes.
While the matchup certainly brings back some fond memories for the fans, it is not to be taken lightly. Firstly, they are once again playing away, which in itself is something that strikes fear into the heart of any Arsenal fan.
Secondly, they will be without Aaron Ramsey, who has been ruled out for 2-3 weeks after picking up a hamstring injury in the second leg against Napoli. The Welshman has been instrumental in the team's successes this year and more often than not, Arsenal have looked lost for ideas in attack in his absence. Nobody quite knows how they'll replace him as he leaves for Turin to play for Juventus next season.
The only good news is that Leicester have also had a dip in form recently, with a loss against Newcastle and a draw at West Ham.
This game will largely determine whether or not Arsenal finish in the top 4 this season and make their return to the Champions League.
Meanwhile, they also face Valencia in the Europa League semis next Friday. Valencia sit 6th in LaLiga and their red hot form, during which thy beat the likes of Sevilla and Real Madrid, has only recently cooled down with a loss to Atletico Madrid. They too will be looking to regain their form ahead of the matchup as they take on Eibar on Sunday.
Arsenal have two very clear but difficult routes to reach the Champions League. But while it is difficult, it is certainly not impossible.
As things stands, the players, the manager and the entire staff have a lot of work still left to do. It remains to be seen whether they will succeed.Published 27 Apr 2019, 03:35 IST