After boxing themselves to a corner ahead of their second leg clash at the Wanda Metropolitano, in spite of playing with a man advantage for the better part of their Europa clash against Atletico, Arsenal willÂ tomorrowÂ turn their attention to the Premier League, seeking their first away point of the year against bitter rivals-Manchester United. Though, both teams have little to play for- as the Red Devils have confirmed their top-four spot, while the Gunners are out of the Europe elite competition, they however would be playing for pride
M anchester United welcome one of our fiercest rivals to Old Trafford this weekend, as Arsene Wenger prepares to lead out his Arsenal team at the Theatre of Dreams for the final time. Securing European football for next season is firmly on the mind of both teams â€“ with the Reds able to confirm a place in the UEFA Champions League group phase for 2018/19 with a win, while the Gunners are battling to hold off Burnley in the fight for a UEFA Europa League place.
Arsenal have endured a tough season by their standards and currently sit sixth in the table â€“ 11 points behind their North London rivals Tottenham. Only a win at Old Trafford, where they havenâ€™t won in the league since 2006, would give the Gunners a mathematical chance of returning to the top-four this term with three subsequent games left to play.
Wengerâ€™s team have uncharacteristically struggled on their travels this season and, remarkably, are the only club in the top four divisions of English football yet to take a league point away from home in 2018. Despite that, they have won four of their last five matches in the Premier League and have lost just once in their last nine games, after a run of four straight defeats between February and March. But the Londoners may feel somewhat demoralised after conceding the initiative to Atletico in their Europa League semi-final by shipping a late goal to draw 1-1 in the first leg at the EmiratesÂ on ThursdayÂ night.
Wenger’s clashes with Alex Ferguson defined an era within the Premier League era and his relationship with current Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has been laced with bitterness.
Ferguson said he felt “proud to have been a rival, colleague and friend” of Wenger after the 68-year-old announced he was stepping down at the end of the season.
“We are friends now, Alex Ferguson and myself,” Wenger said this week, confirming the two had put their fierce rivalry behind them.
Mourinho also held out the hand of friendship.
“If he respects me even 50 per cent of what I respect him we can even be friends in the future. I have lots of respect for him.
But the reality is that he was at Arsenal, he was the champion and I came to the country in 2004 and wanted to steal his title. That’s football,” he told Sky Sports News. ”
Meanwhile, deposed champions Chelsea have Tottenham Hotspur in their sights as they aim to end their season on a high while the Premier League’s bottom three are eyeing a dramatic escape.
With the title done and dusted, champions Manchester City are now left chasing records but there are still plenty of issues left to be decided at both ends of the table.
Chelsea, full of confidence after reaching the FA Cup final, have not given up hope of catching Tottenham in fourth place in the Premier League as they prepare to travel to Swansea City.
Antonio Conte’s side looked out of the running for the Champions League places a few weeks ago but two wins combined with a defeat and draw for Spurs have left them just five points adrift of their London rivals with four games to go.
Mauricio Pochettino must find a way to lift his disappointed team after they squandered a lead against Manchester United in the FA Cup semifinal last week to extend their run of trophyless seasons to 10.
The Spurs boss started speculation over his future after Tottenham’s eighth successive FA Cup semifinal defeat, saying the club “need more time, of course with me or another”. But he knows it is imperative they reach the Champions League for the third season running.
Southampton boss Mark Hughes knows he is running out of time if he wants to avoid the nightmare scenario of managing two relegated clubs in the same season.
Southampton, with four games remaining, host Bournemouth today after a draw with Leicester City halted a run of four consecutive defeats.
Hughes’s former club Stoke City and even West Bromwich Albion have also stopped the rot in recent weeks but they have just three games left to save themselves, with Stoke travelling to Liverpool.
West Brom, eight points from safety, appear doomed barring a miracle and it is difficult to see Stoke mustering enough points to survive but Hughes is clinging on to hope and a win for Saints could drag Swansea, Huddersfield Town, West Ham United and Crystal Palace into the relegation mix.
“Our fixtures have been difficult since I’ve been here, one home game, so it’s not been easy,” said the Southampton boss, who has top scorer Charlie Austin fit again after injury.
“Clearly now we need performances and results. Charlie is fine, he’s available. We’re pleased with what he’s showing. He’s a guy that will create chances and test goalkeepers, that is what we need. Given a run of games, Charlie will always score goals.”