Firstly, let’s address the elephant in the room. Yes, we are aware Arsenal have lost their last two games and were particularly poor in their shock FA Cup defeat to Nottingham Forrest last time out.
But, it has been easy to see why top betting sites have cut the odds of The Gunners making it into the Premier League’s top four places into 9/4. After a poor start to the season that saw them lose their opening three games on the spin, the performances of Mikel Arteta’s men have continued to trend upwards – especially, in the last month.
Back in November we questioned if Arsenal could sustain their Champions League challenge this term. Well, they’ve since given us, and the world, almost no reason to doubt their credentials. Up until their brave loss to Manchester City, the North London club was on a run of five victories in-a-row in all competitions and they had won their last four Premier League games – scoring a whopping 14 goals in the process.
Arsenal currently sit eight points behind second placed Chelsea in the table (with a game in hand), and they are a long way behind The Blues in the Premier League betting odds. However, a poor run of form for Thomas Tuchel’s men has seen The Gunners close that gap significantly, while Chelsea will drop to third if Liverpool win their game in hand on them.
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Only time will tell if Arteta’s charges can catch up, but Arsenal legend Emmanuel Petit believes the club need to be looking up the table now. When asked directly if The Gunners can make the top four, Petit couldn’t hide his delight to see them back fighting at the business end of the Premier League.
“If you asked me this question two months ago, I would have said it would be a miracle. But, after what Arsenal have done in the last few months, they now have an opportunity. They had a terrible start to the season, but now - after six months of playing - they have the chance to qualify for the Champions League,” Petit told bookmakers.co.uk.
“Now everyone is changing their minds. Confidence is back, so is the quality and I just hope they don't get any more injured players because that has been a big problem. With what is happening to Chelsea at the moment, you can imagine them dropping even more important points and it has you thinking that maybe third place could be a target for Arsenal as well.
“Honestly, the opportunity they have now is a gift for these Arsenal players, so they have to take it!”
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Midfield Additions Are Key For Arsenal
With the January transfer window now open and a very winnable run of league fixtures to come over the next couple of months, a few smart acquisitions could see Arsenal battling for even higher honours than the coveted final Champions League spot that the Premier League has on offer.
They’re also still in the running for the League Cup. But, with the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Thomas Partey, Nicolas Pepe and Mohamed Elneny all currently at the African Cup of Nations, Petit feels The Gunners must bring in more players now.
“Arsenal have to go into this transfer window, but they can't be patient as the market is closed in three weeks’ time and there is so much speculation surrounding players coming to the club,” said the former Premier League winner.
“But, Arsenal need to get some new faces because of players missing due to the African Cup Of Nations, Covid and injuries. They are especially short in midfield actually.
“Then you think about the players in the midfield area who have been out on loan recently, they need to get some of them back. Matteo Guendouzi is one of those and he’s performing really well with Marseille recently.”
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Bruno Guimaraes And Georginio Wijnaldum Could Be Good Fits At Arsenal
The club’s interest in dabbling in the transfer market is no great secret and that has seen them linked with multiple targets across Europe. Bruno Guimaraes is one of the names that just keeps cropping up, but Petit just had a little note of caution when asked about the Lyon man.
“Bruno Guimaraes is a very talented player. He is a physical guy with very good technique, vison and mentality,” said Petit.
“But, Arsenal have been targeting players in the midfield position for the last 10 years and so many of them have come to the club only to leave again after two years. So, they need to be very, very careful about the profile of the players they look for.
“I believe Guimaraes could be something good for Arsenal, just like his teammate at Lyon, Lucas Paqueta - who is a very good player as well. But, I still don't know what both of them can do at the highest level. I know they have the quality to play at that level, but to do it week after week, I'll have to be convinced they can do it.”
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Another man who is apparently on the radar for The Gunners is former Liverpool star Georginio Wijnaldum. Things haven’t gone the Dutchman's way since he left Anfield to move to Paris Saint-Germain last summer and Petit feels a move back to English shores could just be what Wijnaldum needs to restart his career.
He said: “You have no idea how much talk there is in France in the last two months surrounding Georginio Wijnaldum.”
“When he scored two goals against RB Leipzig in the Champions League last November, I was at the stadium that night and I thought it could be the perfect game for him to properly start his season with Paris Saint-Germain. But, he is struggling and he is quite isolated in the PSG dressing room.
“He doesn't have the relationship with his teammates that he had when he was with Liverpool. He seems to be missing that kind of affection, and the competition is very high at PSG. We all know the quality that Wijnaldum possesses, he was a top player at Liverpool, so maybe a return to the Premier League could be something good for him.”
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Having left in 2000 for Barcelona after three seasons, Petit knows better than most how hard it is to leave the club that you love. But, he believes players should move on when their days are numbered. When the futures of Eddie Nketiah, Cedric Soares and Rob Holding - all of whom have been linked with transfers away from the Emirates this month - was put to him, Petit felt it would be best for everyone to part ways.
“It is always hard to see young lads leaving the club, you always have the feeling that something has been missing,” said The Gunners icon.
“But, maybe it is the right time for some of these guys to see outside of Arsenal. They have had the chance to show their qualities. You can't say they've only played a few times, they have all played lots of games in the Premier League for the club.
“So, I think it is time for them to go see something else in their careers.”
Eddie Nketiah can currently be found at 6/4 with BetVictor to make a move to Crystal Palace, while you can also grab him at 8/1 if you fancy Newcastle to be his next port of call.