DEBATE: Will Arsenal finish outside top four?

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  • Alexis Sanchez looks dejected after the loss against Liverpool.

    Arsene Wenger and Arsenal are going through tough times.

    The Gunners haven’t ended a Premier League season out of the top four since 1996, but Wenger’s charges now sit fifth in the table after being defeated by Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday.

    Do you think Arsenal will finish outside the Premier League top four this season?

    Let us know your thoughts as our two writers discuss the topic.

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    Share with us your thoughts by commenting below, using #360fans on Twitter or getting in touch via Facebook.


    Inexplicable and indefensible – words to sum up Arsene Wenger’s decision to bench Alexis Sanchez at Liverpool and probably cost Arsenal a top-four spot.

    This was a blunder too far as they may not recover from the fallout of the decision, and 3-1 defeat against one of their main rivals for a Champions League spot.

    After the 5-1 battering at Bayern Munich, the Anfield test was crucial for Arsenal to respond, while the hosts came into it hurting from their own loss at struggling Leicester, where the pace of Jamie Vardy inspired their downfall.

    So it made absolutely no sense in making Sanchez, who has 17 goals and nine assists, a substitute and only bringing him on when the Gunners were 2-0 down. Wenger said he preferred a direct attacking approach with Olivier Giroud and Danny Welbeck, but that was laughable.

    Arsenal are no route one side and never have been under him, and surely, even then, Sanchez should have started ahead of Alex Iwobi or Alex Oxlade Chamberlain on the wing?  You just don’t leave your best, world-class player out in major, must-not-lose games.

    The thought process was baffling even if it was a message to the Chilean over his refusal to sign a new contract, or a case of saving him, Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey for the second leg against Bayern on Tuesday?

    Sacrificing their league position, though, was somewhat suicidal. Arsenal dropped to fifth with Liverpool moving above them and while there may be only two points between them, the psychological blow could be more damaging.

    Arsenal lack the motivation and momentum of Liverpool, Tottenham, Manchester City and even Manchester United. Two will miss out and Arsenal look the most vulnerable.

    They have to face three of those teams and it’s difficult to see them coming out on top. The ‘Wenger Out’ bandwagon is rolling and in the past two games, against Bayern and Liverpool, the players have looked dishevelled, devoid of belief and destroyed.


    Arsenal fans can be split into two camps right now: Those optimistic they can finish in the top four based on the fact, well, that they always finish inside the top four, and a growing number who secretly hope they miss out as a means to finally cut the cord with Arsene Wenger.

    It would be a cruel, and slightly ironic, end to his reign should this come to past – given over the last 10 years his reputation has been built around such remarkable consistency in qualifying for the Champions League.

    But followers of the north London club have reason to be positive beyond history and blind faith.

    Firstly, too many of their players are underperforming for it to last until the end of the season – Petr Cech, Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, Aaron Ramsey and Shkodran Mustafi are all quality internationals and the axis of this side.

    Laurent Koscielny aside, when that core underperforms so does the team overall; it’s inconceivable their respective lean spells will continue for much longer.

    Secondly, Arsenal will be eliminated by Bayern Munich tomorrow night and Arsene Wenger’s squad rotation for the Premier League can stop. Predicting their starting XI is something of a lottery.

    Adapting your XI to match up against certain teams is normal, but Wenger has robbed this team of a degree of its character. Consistency in selection must now be paramount.

    Fixtures-wise, they do still have to play Manchester City, United and Tottenham but the latter two are at the Emirates where they have won nine of 13 league games so far.

    Arsenal’s destiny may be out of their hands but there are 12 matches still to play and try and convince yourself erratic Liverpool won’t drop points or United won’t struggle to score against teams they should be beating comfortably.

    Since 2011-12, in the last 10 games of each season, Arsenal have lost just five of 50 matches. Since the overriding narrative surrounding the Gunners is “same old story”, maybe we should just come to expect them to kick into gear again.