Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker has expressed fears that the club are now losing the race to avoid fourth place ahead of this weekend’s meeting with Manchester United, according to the Daily Express.
The Gunners missed a golden chance to put United out of sight with a 1-0 defeat to Swansea on Monday night, breaking a run of nine victories in their previous ten games to pull away from having to go through the Champions League qualifiers.
Now Arsenal travel to Old Trafford on Sunday knowing that a defeat will allow their hosts to leapfrog them, meaning that an automatic spot in next season’s competition will likely disappear down the toilet.
However, the Gunners do have an advantage in their quest to avoid making visits to the likes of Besiktas and Red Bull Salzburg, as their remaining games are against Premier League strugglers West Brom and Sunderland.
But with the FA Cup final also on their minds, Mertesacker is worried that the Gunenrs could fall behind.
“That is how quickly football can change. When you don’t execute, you get punished,” he said.
“That game was a reminder of how important it is to score, how important it is to get the opener when you have the opportunity.
“When you don’t do that in the Premier League, you are battling for fourth place, not second. It is that simple.
“It is very important to avoid those play-off games, because, when you look at the schedule, the summer break will not be that much.
“Even for non-international players, it is pretty weird.
“We have a couple of under-21 players, a couple playing in the Copa America, so it will again be a tight schedule, so we’ll try to really avoid that.
“We are positive about Sunday’s game. We won there once this season in the FA Cup, and it’s possible to do that twice in a season.
“We are looking forward to it. We are still in a good mood and good level of confidence. We are looking forward to the next four games.”