This week was always going to be a relatively testing one for Arsenal, as they faced Wolverhampton Wanderers and Leicester City. However, only the most pessimistic among the Gunners faithful will have predicted things would go this badly.
After losing 3-2 against Crystal Palace last Sunday, it will have been presumed by many that Arsenal would improve this week- especially as they are still in with a chance of getting their first top four finish since the 2015/16 campaign. However, the Crystal Palace performance was replicated defensively in this week’s two games, as they lost 3-1 and then 3-0 against Wolves and Leicester respectively.
The three goals conceded against Wolves all came in the first half, as Ruben Neves scored in the 28th minute, Matt Doherty netted in the 31st before Diogo Jota rounded things off during injury time. Arsenal were able to get a consolation -ironically through a defender- as Sokratis Papastathopoulos got on the score sheet in the 80th minute.
The Gunners made two defensive changes ahead of the Leicester game, as Shkodran Mustafi and Sead Kolasinac replaced Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal. However, while the Gunners didn’t concede in the first half, they did damage their chances in the early stages once again. Ainsley Maitland-Niles was sent off, in the 38th minute, for a second bookable offence when he slid in on James Maddison.
Youri Tielemans struck the first blow for Leicester in the 59th minute, before a late double from Jamie Vardy made the scoreline look more convincing. Both of Vardy’s goals could arguably have been avoided, as defensive lapses played their part in giving him the chances.
That Arsenal are still struggling at the back, at this stage of the season, will be a source of great frustration for Unai Emery. There have been some brilliant and resolute performances from a defensive point of view, such as the away leg against Napoli, but this type of performance hasn’t come on anywhere near a consistent enough basis.
What will encourage the manager and his players though, is that despite these and other problems Arsenal have endured this campaign, they are still in with a hope of securing Champions League football for next season. They will travel to Valencia on Thursday for the first of their two semi final legs, to get within one match of the Europa League title- and the automatic Champions League place which comes with it.
Obtaining it through the league also still isn’t out of the question, especially after Chelsea drew with Manchester United following Arsenal’s defeat to Leicester. The Gunners’ two remaining Premier League fixtures come against Brighton and Hove Albion and Burnley, two games which are winnable on paper. If they get victory in both of these matches and Chelsea slip up against Watford or Leicester, Arsenal will go above them and into fourth (though that is dependant on goal difference if one of Chelsea’s results is a draw).
Having Champions League football at The Emirates is still a realistically achievable goal for Arsenal, though they will have to sort their defensive woes if they are to obtain it.
Do you have what it takes to challenge the best Premier League Fantasy Managers? If you’re up to challenging the best then play www.fantasy-premier.com now!