MIKEL ARTETA has set a new high as manager of Arsenal.
Four Premier League wins on the bounce for the first time since taking over in December 2019.
It’s a feat not seen since 2018 and it seems to be a source of rejoicing for the Gunners as they cling on to their dreams of a late surge into the European places.
Arsenal are still alive and still hoping for a place in the Europa League but let’s put it in perspective.
This is the club that conquered all as the famous Invincibles in 2004. A whole season unbeaten.
Four league victories in a row is hardly the stuff of open top bus parades but credit Arteta if he can turn this team around and avoid an embarrassing milestone.
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London’s biggest club has not endured a season without European football since 1995 and if Arteta does lose out then he can hardly lay claim to being a football genius.
They went ahead at Palace yet failed to build on it, relying on injury time goals from sub Gabriel Martinelli and a second from Nicolas Pepe to put the result to bed.
And if Arsenal are overjoyed that by the 37th game of a 38 game season they are still in with an outsider’s chance of scraping into Europe’s second tier competition then these really are the weirdest of times.
They were on the back foot from the moment Pepe scored the first on 35 minutes.
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And if they can be torn apart by Crystal Palace then who knows what the titans of Romania and Belarus will do to them in the Europa League next term.
Optimists will call it drive and commitment, or masterful substitutions by the Spanish coach.
Realists will call it a bundled goal from a pair of fresh legs against a team which isn’t going up or down this season and with nothing to play for.
Arsenal need to beat Brighton on Sunday in the final game and with the way they are playing that’s no mean feat. They also need other results to go their way.
And then and only then if they flop over the line they can carry on the tradition of playing in Europe – even if it is in the tournament they tried to trash by laughingly signing up to the failed European Super League.
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