Arsenal may still qualify for European football next season, but they’ll need to beat Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Wednesday to give themselves the best chance.
Mikel Arteta’s side have had a season to forget, largely languishing around mid table for the majority of the campaign.
For a club the size of Arsenal, that is majorly concerning, even in the midst of the uncertainty that shrouds the game due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A fortnight ago many would’ve been of the thinking that the Gunners’ campaign was over following the Europa League semi-final loss to former boss Unai Emery’s Villarreal side.
However, Mikel Arteta’s players seem to have used their elimination from Europe as a motivational tool and have collected wins against West Brom and Chelsea in their last two Premier League games.
As such, they have eked their way back into contention for 7th place and finishing there would see them back in the Europa League again next term, simultaneously preserving their record of 25 consecutive years of continental competition.
The Gunners travel to South London to face a Crystal Palace side who are actively on the hunt for a new manager, after it was confirmed midweek that Roy Hodgson would be leaving the club in the summer when his contract expires.
Despite it being the worst kept secret in the Premier League, the 73-year-old has been commended by Palace CEO Steve Parish for his professionalism and work ethic at Selhurst Park which has seen the club maintain a solid top flight foundation.
Hodgson was a boyhood Palace fan and it is fitting his final game as a servant of the club comes in front of supporters.
Whoever replaces Hodgson in charge has a massive task on their hands, with a rather unenviable rebuilding job required with several first team players out of contract.
In the Premier League standings, Crystal Palace are mathematically unable to finish any higher than 11th and so the game has far more significance to visitors Arsenal.
Arsenal’s form is good, with Liverpool the only other Premier League side to have taken 9 points from their last 9 available.
Palace meanwhile have lost their last 3 games; although Chelsea, Leicester and Manchester City form formidable opposition in those matches.
Patrick van Aanholt and Luka Milivojevic both missed the Eagles’ loss to Chelsea last time out but may recover in time to feature against the Gunners.
Nathaniel Clyne has been battling with illness and is rated touch and go to be involved, whilst the usual suspects of James McCarthur, Nathan Ferguson and Mamadou Sakho remain absent.
Ebere Eze is also missing, with his effervescence expected to be a blow for the hosts.
Mikel Arteta has far fewer fitness concerns, with only David Luiz out for certain as he recovers from a thigh complaint. Granit Xhaka has a knock but may shake it off in time for the game with Palace.
Crystal Palace v Arsenal is a 7pm kick off on Wednesday 19th May.