Arsenal will still be leading the way in the exciting top-four race heading into the final six weeks of the season when Premier League action returns after the March international break.
Last Saturday’s 1-0 win over Aston Villa moved the Gunners onto 54 points. They now sit three and four points clear of Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United respectively having also played one game fewer than both. West Ham United and Wolves remain in contention but are six and eight points off the pace respectively.
Ten games remain for Mikel Arteta’s side. If they were to win them all then Champions League football will be on the menu at the Emirates Stadium for the first time in five years next season. Although, history proves the north London outfit may not need to be perfect between now and May.
This is because since Arsenal last finished in the top-four – the infamous 2015/16 season where they were runners up to Leicester City – the required points total for the final Champions League entry position has declined over the past five years and it would work in the Spaniard’s favour if this trend continues.
With that in mind, below is a closer look at the number of points teams finishing fourth in the Premier League table have achieved in the last five seasons and what it may tell us about what the Gunners need in order to win the top-four battle over Spurs, Man United, West Ham and Wolves.
2016-17: 76 points
Arsenal missed out on a top-four finish by a single point as Liverpool got the win they needed over Middlesbrough on the final day of the season to ensure the Gunners wouldn’t be playing in the Champions League the following season for the first time since the 1996-1997 campaign.
2017-18: 75 points
Arsene Wenger’s final Premier League season as Arsenal manager was somewhat forgettable as his side finished on 63 points and way off contention for a top-four spot that was claimed by Liverpool once again. The Gunners’ away form – winning four from 19 – that year made it impossible for them to be serious contenders.
2018-19: 71 points
The season where Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal and Man United all did their very best to avoid finishing in the top-four, but the Gunners narrowly missed out by a single point after dropping costly points at home to Crystal Palace as well as Brighton & Hove Albion in the run-in.
2019-20: 66 points
66 points was enough to also finish third in a season that ended in July 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic that halted the campaign for over three months. The pause didn’t help Arsenal’s cause as they finished on 56 points and in eighth place – their lowest finish since 1995.
2020-21: 67 points
A small increase to the required points total for the final Champions League entry position as a dramatic final day of the season saw Chelsea finish fourth despite losing 2-1 at Aston Villa. Arsenal did manage to break the 60 points barrier again, but it wasn’t enough for Europa Conference League qualification let alone a top-four spot.
So, considering that at least 67 points has been enough for a fourth-place finish in each of the last two Premier League seasons may be an indicator of what’s in store for the top-four race. Currently on 54 points, Arsenal need another 13 points to reach that total which, in an ideal scenario, works out to four wins and a draw from their remaining 10 fixtures.