With Champions League qualification on the line, Wenger describes on dramatic finishes from past seasons to boost Arsenals hopes of a top-four place
Arsne Wenger is not a wager guy. The Arsenal manager is happy to talk about the odds and, sometimes, to shout them but he would never gambling any money on the outcome of a equal. To him, it is a fools errand and it is so for good reason the sport is gloriously and maddeningly unpredictable.
Wenger knows what everybody is thinking as he goes into the final day of the Premier League season, with his squad sitting fifth, one point behind Liverpool and three behind Manchester City. There are a number of permutations that would to be translated into Arsenal squeezing into a Champions League place, but the simplest space of putting it is they must beat Everton at the Emirates Stadium and either Liverpool slip up or City do so badly.
Liverpool face Middlesbrough at Anfield while City travel to Watford. Not for the first time, Wenger have also pointed out that Arsenal would return a tally of 75 points if they were to beat Everton four more than they gained last-place season when finishing second. No Premier League team has finished outside the top four with 75 points.
We can do 75 phases, so lets do it, Wenger announced. Will it be enough or not? I dont know. If you had to bet, you would say: No, it will not be sufficient. But you never know.
The bookmakers think they do. They have Liverpool at 1-9 to qualify for the Champions League and City at 1-100. Arsenal are 6-1, which does not experience overly generous and probably is one reason why the bookies never truly lose.
Wenger, though, is mindful that strange things can happen on the last day of a season and, nearly instinctively, he brought up the most famous finale of them all. Man City won the championship in the last minute against QPR, Wenger announced. So, it can happen.
Citys moment came in 2011 -1 2, when Sergio Agero scored in the fourth time of added time to secure a 3-2 succes over Queens Park Rangers, which necessitated they pipped Manchester United to the title.
Wenger has first-hand experience of a last-day drama and although it was not on the same degree as the Agero-inspired turnaround it illustrates the notes that the preposterous can come to pass. In 2005 -0 6, Arsenal were in the same position as now participating the last day in fifth, one point behind the team in fourth. That squad was Tottenham Hotspur and they had to go to West Ham United, which was a difficult derby but one that the bookmakers, however, had them at 4-5 to win.
Fate would intervene on Arsenals behalf as 10 of the Tottenham musicians were struck by gastroenteritis. There were dramatic incidents in the hours before kick-off as the police were called in to investigate the outbreak and Tottenham necessitated that the game be postponed. It would go ahead, Martin Jols off-colour squad lost 2-1 and Arsenal, with a 4-2 win over Wigan in the last game at Highbury, were able to leap-frog them.
Arsenal did have an superstar up their sleeves then. Ten days after the Wigan game, they were due to face Barcelona in the Champions League final at the Stade de France. Had they won that, they would have is eligible for the competition the following season and periphery out the Premier Leagues fourth-placed squad if they had not finished there themselves. As it was, they lost 2-1 in Paris.
In 2006, we had the Champions League final to prepare and this season we have the FA Cup final[ against Chelsea ], Wenger announced. We thought we had the chance to win the Champions League and to be in the Champions League again, so the panic to be in it was less large-scale. This time, we are less likely to be in it but we still can manage it by merely places great importance on what we think is important, whose purpose is to win against Everton.
Wengers record of never having finished outside the top four in his 20 previous seasons at Arsenal hangs by a thread and he will cling to anything as he tries to maintain the sequence. He sought to attain the notes that Liverpool might not have it all their own space against Middlesbrough, as Arsenal did not when they played them at home in October. The game finished 0-0. Were it to be goalless for any duration of period at Anfield, it would not making it hard to envisage the crowds nervousnes. Its unpredictable, Wenger announced. Liverpool will certainly be up for it; Middlesbrough will be up for it. Is Liverpool favourite? Yes. But we played 0-0 at home against Middlesbrough. It was not easy.
Wenger has been criticised for simply giving top-four finishes and he is frustrated that there should now be such a focus on him repeating the stunt. For 20 times, I had to answer: Is that all you have to offer? he announced. So, Sunday, it becomes an absolutely vital subject? Absolutely unbelievable.
Wenger seemed to miss the general notes that Champions League qualification would do little more than salvage a disappointing tournament season. He looked to be caught between wanting to believe until all hope had gone and shrugging off the disappointment if the association failed to make it. Financially, you dont suffer any more, he announced. During the period when we had to pay the Emirates Stadium off, the income of the Champions League was absolutely vital. But it does not have the financial weight that it had before because television money has gone up.
Its more the facts of the case that we want to play in the best rival but did Chelsea play in the Champions League this year? Did Liverpool? No. If we have to cope with it, we have to cope with it.
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