Arsenal’s Premier League fairytale has turned into a nightmare after a brace of defeats dropped them two points behind fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur ahead of the final weekend.
Mikel Arteta’s men have picked themselves up from a disastrous start to the season to mount probably their best top-four challenge in the post-Arsene Wenger era.
Arteta has gone from one of the most under-pressure Premier League managers to an unsung Emirates hero, yet it could all be in vain.
Arsenal seemed on the cusp of landing a long-awaited top-four finish after racking up four consecutive league victories, including multi-goal margin ones over Chelsea and Manchester United.
The Gunners have thrown away everything they have achieved in the second half of the season in the last two matches and now look destined for another Europa League finish.
Granit Xhaka and co collapsed in the most significant game of the season as Tottenham claimed an overwhelming 3-0 win in the latest edition of the North London derby a week ago.
Even though they suffered a heavy defeat in their top-four six-pointer, Arsenal were still masters of their destiny, having held a one-point lead heading into the penultimate round of fixtures.
However, while Spurs squeezed past relegation-battling Burnley 1-0, Arteta’s team succumbed to a season-crushing 2-0 loss at mid-table Newcastle United.
During the post-match interview, Arteta blasted his team’s performance, admitting the Magpies ‘were ten times better than us,’ as relayed by The Telegraph.
A heartbreaking defeat at St James’ Park rendered all Arsenal’s previous efforts meaningless, putting them in an almost-impossible spot ahead of the season finale.
With Tottenham now two points clear and boasting a better head-to-head record, the Gunners need a miracle to join Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea in next season’s Champions League.
Spurs have a straightforward task in the shape of basement boys Norwich City waiting in the wings as Antonio Conte looks to finish what he started in November.
A draw against the Canaries at home in the final round will do the trick for Conte’s side regardless of Arsenal’s result against Everton at the Emirates Stadium.
The Toffees are fighting tooth and nail against the drop, and a potential victory over Crystal Palace in their upcoming midweek showdown would save their season.
Anything other than all three points against Patrick Vieira’s team would carry Everton’s drama into the final day, which may make the Gunners’ life even more complicated.
On the other hand, Spurs are now in firm control of the top-four race and barring a once-in-a-life-time upset, they should be beating their North London rivals to a coveted fourth-place finish.
Following a season-long absence from Europe’s most prestigious competition, Tottenham can almost hear the Champions League anthem chanting at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
In other Tottenham news, Dejan Kulusevski and Cristian Romero have impressed Conte, who now looks to sign both players permanently at the end of the season.
As per Fabrizio Romano, Spurs are ready to shell out around £67million to convince Juventus and Atalanta to sanction the deals.
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