Arsenal can secure Champions League football next season without kicking another ball as pressure on Everton to beat Manchester City
Failure to beat City this Saturday would all but end Everton's top-four hopes while defeat would see them in a battle with Tottenham for fifth
Arsenal could qualify for the Champions League play-offs without kicking a ball following the 3-0 victory over Newcastle on Monday night, with the Gunners now leading Everton in the race for fourth place by four points with just two matches remaining.
Goals from Laurent Koscielny, Mesut Özil and Olivier Giroud saw Arsenal run out rather easy victors given that Newcastle never looked like threatening Wojciech Szczesny bar one Yoan Gouffran effort in the second half.
The result saw Arsene Wenger’s side take advantage of Everton’s slip-up after they suffered a 2-0 loss to Southampton on Saturday, and despite Roberto Martinez’s belief after the St Mary’s defeat that they were still in the still in the hunt for the Champions League, failure to win against Manchester City this weekend would all but end their interest in a return to the Champions League.
Having only finished fourth once in their Premier League history – under David Moyes in 2004-05 – the Toffees were knocked out in the play-off phase, meaning their quest to reach the Champions League group stage and join Europe’s elite remains unconquered. Under the guidance of Marintez who is in his first season with the Merseyside club having replaced Moyes, Everton looked to be on the verge of reaching Europe, especially when the run of five matches without a win saw the Gunners slip to fifth.
With Arsenal not set to play again until Sunday afternoon, Everton know that defeat against City the night before would end any chance of breaking into the top four, while a draw would leave them three points off but with an inferior goal difference of three goals.
Their task will be made that little bit harder in that they face a City side that finds itself with the Premier League title incentive once again, following Chelsea’s 2-0 victory over Liverpool.
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Manuel Pellegrini and his side know that victory in their final three matches – against Aston Villa, West Ham and firstly Everton – will see them regain the title, and with the Toffees losing two of their last three matches they are not in the best of form heading into the Goodison Park encounter.
Regardless of the result on Saturday, victory for Arsenal against West Brom would seal an 17th straight season in the Champions League, with Wenger never failing to qualify for Europe’s top competition since arriving at Arsenal in 1996.
Everton’s remaining fixtures:
Everton v Manchester City – Saturday 3 May, 17.30
Hull v Everton – Sunday 11 May, 15.00
Arsenal’s remaining fixtures:
Arsenal v West Brom – Sunday 4 May, 13.30
Norwich v Arsenal – Sunday 11 May, 15.00
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