Bernd Leno has predicted Arsenal will finish in third place in the Premier League, one place above of Sp*rs, with Liverpool losing out on the title to Manchester City.
While the Germany international is confident about the Gunners chances of qualifying for the Champions League, he admits it’ll be tough for us to achieve our aim given the challenges that lie ahead both domestically and in Europe.
Speaking ahead of this week’s trips to Wolves and Leicester, our keeper peered into his crystal ball…presumably before our neighbours edged last night’s win over Brighton.
“[It will be] Manchester City first, because Liverpool also have the Champions League, so maybe they will lose some power and energy from that,” he told Sky Sports.
“I believe they have a realistic chance against Barcelona, it’s 50-50, but City only have the FA Cup final and the Premier League.
“I think at the end it will then be us and Tottenham. I believe in our quality and we have everything in our own hands. I don’t mind about the other teams though, if we are in the top four everything is OK for me!”
In the Europa League, Arsenal have a double-header with Unai Emery’s former club Valencia on the horizon and then the prospect of facing top-four rivals Chelsea in the final in Baku.
It certainly doesn’t look like an easier route back to Europe’s top table.
“Both ways are very difficult,” he added. “We play Valencia, who are a strong team, then in the final we could play Chelsea. That is very difficult and in the Premier League we have three away games.
“I can’t say which way is more difficult…We have to focus on every game and win against Wolves. I think 10 points could be enough, but I don’t know.”
Sunday’s defeat to Crystal Palace may have once again highlighted our defensive deficiencies – more team than individual, according to the boss – but that doesn’t mean that we haven’t improved this season. Well, that’s what Leno thinks. The German also maintains that staying strong at the back will decide his teammates’ fate.
“The key is the defence,” Leno said. “You saw the last few weeks we won games because the defence was good and we didn’t concede easy goals.
“If we can have more clean sheets away then we have big chances to win games because with our strikers we have such big qualities and chances to score. The defence will be the key.
“When you compare to the start of the season we have improved a lot. In 2019 we haven’t conceded as many goals as 2018.
“It was also a change with the new manager and style to play from the back and to have the ball, that is different for the defenders. The basics of the defence are very good.”