Arsenal will have massively ‘overperformed’ if they secure a Premier League top four finish this term.
That’s according to Gunners fan and former England striker Darren Bent, who insists no one at the start of the campaign would have given Mikel Arteta’s side a chance of getting Champions League football. .
Last season, the north Londoners finished eighth in the table with 61 points, six behind fourth-placed Chelsea.
Legendary boss Arsene Wenger has had a record 19 consecutive Champions League seasons under his reign, which culminated in two quarter-finals, a semi-final and a final.
After the end of the 2016/17 season, where the Gunners failed to qualify for Europe’s top competition, Wenger resigned.
Currently, Arsenal sit in fifth place in the Premier League, level on 57 points with north London rivals Tottenham and just five points behind third place Chelsea.
Arteta’s men still have 18 points to play in what will be a decisive run-in, where they will face Manchester United, Tottenham and top four underdogs West Ham in their final six games.
These three matches will be ranked as six points and could well decide Arsenal’s fate in the top four.
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And that would be something beyond Bent’s wildest dreams, given the current state of Arsenal’s young squad.
“No one will have given them an absolute sniff at the start of the season,” the former striker said on Drivetime.
“Before a ball was kicked, the first four were supposed to be [Manchester] City, Liverpool, Chelsea and [Manchester] United, that was it, done and dusted off.
“We were at the bottom of the league at one point, having lost our first three games.
“So for me, if Arsenal are in the top four this season, they’ve exceeded expectations and it’s been a fantastic season.
“I always said the top six would be an exceptional achievement, back in Europe, but if they get into the top four, they’ve passed, absolutely passed.”
Bent praised the manager’s work but insisted Arsenal needed to strengthen themselves in the transfer market to consistently return to the top of the table.
“I love the football played by Mikel Arteta,” he added. “But somehow he needs to have more options.
What a Saturday we lined up.
The first fixture in the capital is Arsenal v Manchester United live on talkSPORT, with the visitors perhaps buoyed by news of Erik ten Hag’s appointment as permanent manager.
Then, direction Wembley for Tyson Fury against Dillian Whyte from 7 p.m. where the two heavyweights fight for the WBC title.
12:30 p.m.: Arsenal v Man United – talkSPORT
7 p.m.: Live from Wembley ahead of Tyson Fury vs Dillian Whyte
“And when I say more options, another centre-forward, someone they can rely on for a regular goal.
“And maybe another creative midfielder too.”
The Gunners will enter the clash with Manchester United on Saturday lunchtime full of confidence after sending Chelsea 4-2 at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.
United, meanwhile, travel to the Emirates after a 4-0 defeat at the hands of rivals Liverpool.
Ahead of the Red Devils clash, Arteta believes there is still plenty to play for in the top four race.
“I am very excited about the options available to us and we will try and do our best to try to achieve this goal. [top four]“Arteta told Sky Sports.
“After winning, a locker room is much better than a loser.
“When I have to analyze this energy, it is obviously [better]but what i’m proud of this team is the way they behave when things don’t go our way.
“When the going gets tough, and how ready everyone is to push the boat in the same direction.”
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