What needs to happen on the final day of the Premier League season for Arsenal to finish fourth? | Football
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What needs to happen for Arsenal to finish fourth on Premier League's final day?

Spurs only need to avoid defeat to secure Champions League football (Pictures: Getty)

The race for the final Champions League spot will go down to the final match of the Premier League season – though Arsenal need a big favour from Norwich City in order to secure an unlikely fourth-place finish.

A little over a week ago, the Gunners were just one win away from Europe’s premier club competition with three points in the north London derby enough to ensure they would finish ahead of their local rivals for the first time in six years.

But instead they imploded in N17, with Rob Holding sent off in a 3-0 defeat, and four days later they suffered another massive setback when they lost 2-0 to Newcastle at an atmospheric St James’ Park.

That result on Monday night, coupled with Tottenham’s win over Burnley the day before, means Arsenal no longer have a Champions League place in their own hands with Spurs two points ahead in the table.

Many now consider the race for fourth place a mere formality – statisticians FiveThirtyEight give Tottenham a 96% chance of qualifying for the Champions League – but there is still a sliver of hope for the red half of north London…

How can Arsenal finish fourth?

The first thing Arsenal need to take care of is beating Everton in their own match at the Emirates, with a draw or defeat making it impossible to catch Tottenham.

A win for Spurs at Carrow Road would wrap up fourth place, but defeat – coupled with an Arsenal win – would see the Gunners overtake their rivals and secure Champions League football by a solitary point.

A draw should also be enough for Tottenham, who boast +15 better goal difference than Mikel Arteta’s side; as bad as Everton have been this season, a 15-0 victory for Arsenal seems just a tad unlikely.

The scenario is pretty simple, then: Arsenal must win against the Toffees and hope Norwich beat Spurs, while the scorelines are irrelevant.

What is Norwich’s record like against Tottenham?

Unfortunately for Arsenal, Norwich’s record against Tottenham does not make for pretty reading with the Canaries having won just one of their past nine league matches against the Lilywhites.

They have also conceded at least twice in each of their past five meetings, though they did knock Spurs out of the FA Cup after a penalty shootout in March 2020 shortly before the coronavirus pandemic began.

Norwich City beat Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League

Norwich beat Spurs at Carrow Road in 2014 (Picture: Getty)

Dean Smith’s side – who have won just five matches this season – also have the worst defensive record in the division, conceding 79 goals, and have only scored 23 goals themselves in 37 matches.

But there is some hope for Arsenal, with Tottenham having lost on the final day of the season against an already relegated side three times previously.

One of those occasions, famously, was away to Newcastle in the 2015-16 campaign, a result which saw Arsenal leapfrog their rivals into second place – though that is the only occasion in the last 11 years when Spurs have lost their final league game (winning eight and drawing two).

When were Arsenal last in the Champions League?

Under Arsene Wenger, Arsenal were a bedrock of the Champions League, qualifying for the competition a record-setting 19 successive seasons between 1998 and 2017.

But the Gunners only finished fifth in the 2016-17 campaign, ending their long run in Europe’s premier club competition.

Arsenal’s last Champions League match was a pasting (Picture: Getty)

Their last match in the Champions League remains a 5-1 defeat to Bayern Munich at the Emirates (10-2 on aggregate) in the round of 16 in March 2017 – over five years ago.

Despite their regular participation in the competition, Arsenal went out of the tournament in the last 16 in seven successive seasons, not making the latter stages since a quarter-final defeat to Barcelona in 2010.

Prior to this season, the closest Arsenal came to getting back in the Champions League was via the Europa League final in 2019, but they lost to Chelsea.


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