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Would It Be a Failure For Arsenal Not to Make Top Four?

Arsenal currently sit in sixth place, on 39 points with 22 matches played. Behind them are Wolves, with 37 points from 23 matches, and then Spurs, with 36 points from 22 matches. Ahead of them sit West Ham (41 points from 25 matches), and then Manchester United (43 points from 25 matches), and then Chelsea (47 points from 24 matches). Despite qualifying for any European place being the Gunners’ original goal, Mikel Arteta’s men are now firmly in the race of top four.

Indeed, most now consider Arsenal the favorites to end the season in that last Champions League place. At the time of writing, Arsenal currently have a 52% of finishing there according to FiveThirtyEight. The next most likely are United, who are given a 22% chance. Spurs, Arsenal’s other main competition for the spot, currently sport odds of 13%.

Arsenal’s status as frontrunners to qualify for the top tier of European competition has prompted increased expectations from the club faithful. This week, club legend Thierry Henry stated on CBS Sports that it would be a failure for Arsenal not to finish in the top four. Many Gooners have echoed the sentiment, sparking much debate among supporters.

Those who agree that top four is now the minimum requirement cite a belief in updating expectations. The theory is that midseason context should inform and can change the expected standard for a team. One example that has been thrown out is the 2015-16 Premier League season in which Leicester finished as champions. It is asserted that had their club finished second, Leicester fans — who likely originally wanted only a midtable finish in their second season back in the Premier League — would have been as disappointed as Arsenal supporters were by being runners-up that campaign.

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