Before April this year, most football pundits thought Arsenal would grab at least the 4th spot on the league table because of the number of games they were having in hand and their improved form then.
But within seven days, Mikel Arteta and his boys have completely limited their chances of qualifying for the 2022-2023 UEFA Champions League campaign.
They started the week with a stunning 3-0 defeat at the hands of Crystal Palace on Monday, April 4. When the club’s fans thought that was just a little slip, Arsenal lost 2-1 to Brighton on Saturday, April 9.
The two defeats and Tottenham Hotspur’s 4-0 win over Aston Villa on Saturday have greatly dimmed Arsenal’s chances of grabbing the 4th spot.
After the 2-1 defeat to Brighton, Arsenal are now occupying the 5th spot with 54 points in 30 games, three points below 4th placed Tottenham Hotspur which seems unstoppable at the moment.
In his reaction to Brighton’s 2-1 away win over Arsenal, Mikel Arteta said: “The first half was poor again. The reaction that we wanted to show and everything we talked about we didn’t make happen on the pitch.
“We were sloppy with the ball, we were second best in a lot of situations, we didn’t show any purpose or build any momentum in the game, we didn’t play with the right speed and transform the game Brighton proposed today and the first chance – the only chance they had – they scored a goal.
“We created a cold atmosphere we were uncomfortable with. When we tried to change it, it was great not to give up but it was too late.
“The fans were here and again they were exceptional. You can see the moment we gave them something… but we played a game that you could not see the purpose, the intention of what the team was trying to do. We didn’t give them anything in the first half and that is down to us.
“It was not a problem of attitude, it was a problem of courage we showed to play and we didn’t have that purpose. We didn’t have that intention to attack and step in and provoke the situation we wanted to. We were looking at each other too many times instead of taking ownership and doing what we have to do. You can’t play like that.”
🗣 “Second best in a lot of duels again today.”— Football Daily (@footballdaily) April 9, 2022
Mikel Arteta says Arsenal lacked courage in attack today. pic.twitter.com/tfcj6y6wtp
Arsenal now have a mountain to climb and Mikel Arteta knows it
The two successive defeats Arsenal suffered in the last seven days could be the events the club would blame if they fail to end the 2021-2022 season in the top four.
Games against teams like Crystal Palace and Brighton ought to be games Arsenal should win if they were serious with their quest to play in the Champions League next season.
Now, they have tougher opponents like Manchester United, Chelsea, West Ham United, and Tottenham Hotspur to beat to brighten their chances of grabbing the 4th spot.
With such huge games amid Arsenal’s steady drop in form and lack of consistent game-changers, it might be impossible for the London-based club to grab the 4th spot ahead of their London rivals, Tottenham Hotspur.
After Arsenal’s defeat to Brighton on Saturday, coach Mikel Arteta said: “With all the team available we knew how difficult the challenge was. Those two injuries make the situation more complicated. But we can’t look at that because we can’t be looking for excuses. What happened today is down to us, the players we have, and the way we prepared the game.
“What happens next? We criticize ourselves a lot. We deserved to [lose] because we were really poor first half and lift ourselves.
“We know this road is taking us nowhere, especially where we want to be. We have everything to play for in the last eight games. We have to have that level of energy and visualize the beautiful challenge we have ahead, don’t sit back and let’s see what happens.”
🗣 “It’s the same players that have been playing the whole season and they took us all the way here.”— Football Daily (@footballdaily) April 9, 2022
Mikel Arteta on having the youngest side in the Premier League and that impacting Arsenal’s top four hopes. pic.twitter.com/slGcoD9E8O