Arsenal in familiar territory, leading the chasing bunch
With 10 games of the Premier League season remaining Arsenal find themselves in familiar territory.
London: With 10 games of the Premier League season remaining Arsenal find themselves in familiar territory.
On the down side they are too far back for a serious title push and are facing a European exit at the hands of AS Monaco.
Put a positive spin on things though and the Gunners look ideally-placed to secure an 18th successive Champions League qualification and could still retain the FA Cup.
It is a state of affairs that divides Arsenal fans, splits the Arsene Wenger loyalists from those who believe the Gunners have flattered to deceive for too long under his command.
A week after the radio phone-ins were crackling with Wenger criticism after Arsenal`s 3-1 home defeat by Monaco in the Champions League, last 16, first leg, calm has broken out.
A straightforward home defeat of Everton at the weekend was followed on Wednesday by a 2-1 away win at Queens Park Rangers.
Arsenal have now won four matches in a row in the league and nine of their last 11 -- title-winning form.
They are nine points behind leaders Chelsea, who also have a game in hand, but in touch with second-placed Manchester City and leading the cluster of clubs vying for the top-four.
Six of their last 10 league matches are at home too and Alexis Sanchez, their standout player this season, looks to be firing on all cylinders again after a temporary loss of form.
No wonder boss Wenger looked content on Wednesday, although with Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United still to play he questioned the idea that Arsenal had the easiest run-in.
"It`s hot (in the top four race) because everybody won tonight," Wenger said. " We can only focus on our performances and keep going. We have 10 games to go, we play six at home and four away, so we just can focus on our performances.
"At the moment you fight all the teams who fight not to go down and fight all teams who want to be in Europe. In April some teams are settled and have nothing to go for, it can become a little bit easier. Fixtures that look difficult can become a little bit easier. It` difficult to predict."
Sanchez scored the second goal against Queens Park Rangers, his first in eight games, while Olivier Giroud, criticised for his display against Monaco, was also on target.
Wenger praised them both.
"He never gives up and that`s the strength of a good striker," Wenger said of Sanchez, while of Giroud he added: "He`s strong mentally. He can take some criticism and respond. He`s shown that."