With the title race finished long ago and relegation issues already sorted, only one main point of interest remains in the Premier League table on the final day of fixtures. For those in the rest of the country, the top-four fight might not hold much significance, but in London, its importance has been steadily bubbling up during the season run-in. A quick glance at the form table shows how Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham have not relented in trying to make it in to next season's Champions League.
As Arsene Wenger prepares his team for the final Premier League game of the season, he revealed a masochistic streak in his press conference. Asked about the Newcastle game and its implications, he said, "Sometimes you think it would be nice to have a game with no pressure, but when you have one you think, 'let's get it back, it's so boring'. "What would be terrible would be to go to Newcastle and have nothing at stake for us. We have what we wanted so let's just finish the job." - Wenger: Gunners will secure UCL spot I suspect that there are many Arsenal fans who would disagree with the manager and who would prefer to be going to St James's Park with little at stake.
Although it felt a bit touch and go for a while and Wojciech Szczesny's early second half save proved hugely important in the overall scheme of things, I think it's fair to say Arsenal thoroughly deserved their 4-1 win over Wigan last night. - Limbert: Arsenal counter back into top four - Delaney: Defensive woes sink Wigan - Marcotti: Arsenal-Chelsea playoff? - McAleer: Don't take my Champions League We hear often about how crucial it is to take your chances at this level. Wigan failed to go ahead when Szczesny denied Arouna Kone, and when Arsenal created openings, they finished them, along with the FA Cup holders' chances of staying in the Premier League.
For large parts of Arsenal's 4-1 win over Wigan at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday, it was difficult to know which side was trying to win at all costs to avoid relegation, and which one was pushing for the Champions League places. Having been pinned back during the second half, Arsenal eventually moved back into the top four with some quick counter attacks to clinically relegate the FA Cup winners. -Arsenal cash in on Barca Liga win Much like Arsenal's recent games with Manchester United and Queens Park Rangers, the Gunners started well but tailed off, allowing the opposition back into the match.
As Arsenal approach their final home game of the season against Wigan on Tuesday night, I can't help but feel a sense of deja vu going into the match. Despite Wigan breaking new ground by superbly winning the FA Cup on Saturday, their visit to North London late in the campaign will be nothing new. Arsenal have had experiences that can both reassure and worry fans before the important game. With Wigan scrapping to survive last season, they came to the Emirates late in the campaign to face an Arsenal team that had been in good form, with it seeming like Wigan were finally not going to be able to pull off their usual escape act.
Due to the fact that Arsenal play Wigan on Tuesday and, as this was written, Wigan was on the way to winning the FA Cup, there's something of a dearth of Arsenal news. So, here are some of my favourite FA Cup final memories. 1979 - I posted a piece about this on my blog Saturday, but it was the first game I remember watching. Arsenal took a 2-0 lead over Manchester United, only to let them score twice in the final two minutes to equalise. I was heartbroken -- then, from the next kickoff, Liam Brady made things better.
It's been a momentous week in British football. Whatever your club allegiance, it's hard to ignore the impact Sir Alex Ferguson has had on the game and the remarkable sustained period of dominance that he has overseen at Manchester United. However, with the changes at Manchester United understandably dominating the footballing headlines this week, everything has been rather quiet on the Arsenal front. There have been rumours of a bumper new kit deal, which was well analysed yesterday by Andrew Mangan, but what most Arsenal fans have had to focus on has been the other teams playing key catch-up fixtures in the Premier League.
Rumours about Arsenal's next kit manufacturer have been circulating for some time. As the deal with Nike draws to a 2014 close some said they'd renew for a whopping fee; others were quite convinced that adidas would come on board and return to making the club's kit. The German giants made Arsenal's kit in the 1980s and '90s -- some were splendid, some iconic but not so pleasing on the eye, but it was a big surprise when it was leaked that Puma would get the gig. The reaction across blogs and social media has been interesting.
When Olivier Giroud was sent off in the dying moments of the match with Fulham, apart from the initial stress that it caused supporters while Arsenal saw out the match with 10 men, there were a number of fans who were relieved to know that the Frenchman would miss three games. Giroud hadn't been in great scoring form, but the team has missed his linkup play in the last two matches. Arsenal have been able to pick up four points in the absence of Giroud but have scored only two goals. Both of them have come from a through ball into the inside right channel with Theo Walcott finishing across the goalkeeper.
It's clear Arsene Wenger has a lot of faith in Wojciech Szczesny. When he was given a chance to stake a claim for the No. 1 position -- rather ironically presented when he took a shot at Lukasz Fabianski in a warm-up, injuring his fellow Pole -- the manager was prepared to accept the inconsistencies that come with young goalkeepers. Szczesny is confident, perhaps overly so at times, but many goalkeepers have this kind of characteristic. He's certainly one of them, and it will manifest itself throughout his career, but age and maturity should see him channel it better.
The glorious football cliche of how teams looked on paper was very evident at Loftus Road on Saturday, as an Arsenal side in a run of good form visited a team that had already been relegated and were part of one of the most abject Premier League games in living memory last weekend. An away win for Arsenal at Queens Park Rangers should have been a foregone conclusion. After taking the lead inside the first 30 seconds, Arsenal looked all set to go on and comfortably secure the expected victory. Theo Walcott bagged his second goal in as many games, the QPR defence appeared to lack organisation, and the three points were just waiting to be dominantly claimed by the Gunners.
Arsenal moved into third place in the Premier League with a 1-0 win over QPR at Loftus Road on Saturday. Theo Walcott's goal after 20 seconds -- Arsenal's fastest ever in the Premier League -- looked like it was going to set the tone against a team already relegated and short on confidence, but instead what the Gunners fans got was that early jubilation followed by 89 minutes of frustration, tedium and ever-increasing nerves. A 1-0 scoreline, while good enough to take three points, provides no kind of comfort during the game.