For the first time in 20 years, Arsenal will almost certainly miss out on a place in the top four and Champions League football. Here are three key defeats that could end up costing the Gunners dearly.
Arsenal’s form throughout this season has been inconsistent, to say the least. The Gunners have lost nine games this season, more than any other team in the top six. Here are three defeats this season that may have cost Arsenal their beloved top four place.
Everton 2-1 Arsenal (Tuesday 13 December 2016)
Three days before this game, Arsenal had come from behind to beat Stoke and go top of the league. However, they were unable to produce a similar performance against Everton.
Arsenal took the lead through Alexis Sanchez. Everton, encouraged by the vocal home crowd, equalised just before half-time thanks to Seamus Coleman before Ashley Williams scored the winner four minutes from time.
This was the first of two consecutive 2-1 defeats which effectively ended Arsenal’s title challenge for yet another season.
Arsenal 1-2 Watford (Tuesday 31 January 2017)
Watford had not won in seven league games when they came to face Arsenal at the Emirates. Within the opening 15 minutes the Hornets were 2-0 up and Arsenal were hanging on for dear life. This was without doubt one of Arsenal’s most abject performances throughout the season.
By defeating Arsenal, Watford secured their first top-flight win over the Gunners since 1988. Arsenal had been unbeaten in five league fixtures before facing Watford but proved once again that they like to do things the hard way.
Liverpool 3-1 Arsenal (Saturday 4 March 2017)
Arsene Wenger made a point by demoting Alexis Sanchez to the bench for a crucial clash against top four rivals Liverpool. Unsurprisingly, this bold move backfired.
Once Wenger realised he wouldn’t win the match with his star player on the bench, Sanchez came on at half-time. Arsenal were already 2-0 down by this point and the damage was done.
Welbeck scored Arsenal’s only goal of the game which was, of course, set up by substitute Sanchez. In a game of such high importance, Wenger’s gamble of leaving Sanchez on the bench was foolish.
Arsenal now have to win all of their remaining games and hope that the teams above them drop points. This is unlikely to happen at such a climactic stage of the season. For the first time since Arsene Wenger became Arsenal manager in 1996, the Gunners will most probably be taking part in Europe’s second competition next season.