Leno: We can reduce the gap on the top four

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Bernd Leno believes Arsenal have enough games left in the season to secure a top four finish in the Premier League.

The German was on top form on Saturday as the Gunners secured a 1-0 win against West Ham to make it three consecutive victories in the league and 11 games unbeaten in domestic competitions.

While subsequent wins for Manchester United and Chelsea haven’t helped our cause, we’re still only eight points adrift of the fourth-placed Blues and with Uefa looking to ban Manchester City from Europe next season, there’s also the possibility that finishing fifth could see us sneak back into the Champions League.

While our recent exit from the Europa League remains raw, Leno maintains that there’s a lot to play for in the final months of the campaign.

“At the moment we look always to the next game,” he told the Evening Standard. 

“There is too much time in football, you have to always focus on the next game. That is always the most important thing.

“Now we focus on Wednesday against Man City and not what is in May at the end of the season. We have to focus on every game and it will be in our hands.

“I think it’s all about us, if it will be realistic or not. There is still a gap, but I think we have nine or 10 games left so we have enough opportunities to reduce this gap and go to the Champions League places.

“Or maybe fifth is enough? I don’t know, it depends on Man City. But yes, I think it’s all in our hands.”

Arsenal travel to the Etihad on Wednesday in a hastily rearranged game that looks to be the biggest test yet for new boss Mikel Arteta.

Leno thinks we need to leave Manchester with at least a point and believes the 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge, when we defended with our backs to the wall before nicking a point with ten men, could be a blueprint to follow.

“I think against Manchester City, maybe they will have more possession so it will be a completely different game [to Saturday’s win over West Ham],” said Leno. 

“Maybe we are defending deeper, I don’t know. It depends on the game, it depends on the tactics.

“I think you can see that against Chelsea, they had a lot of possession and were always playing around the box and at the end, we got a 2-2 draw with one less player. Maybe these kinds of games suit us.

“I think we have to respect this team, they have a lot of quality that’s clear, but we also want to go back to London with at least one point.

“Our job now is to reduce the gap to the Champions League. It’s eight [points] to Chelsea, it’s now our job to reduce that gap.

“But it depends on us. The other teams maybe will lose some points and we have everything in our hands. It depends only on us.”

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C.B.

Let’s hope we continue the Arteta results and not have an Emery-like last few games of the season.

Pkub

It sure is, but am I like hell getting my hopes up again. Not a chance. Still damaged from last seasons ending. It’ll be nice to get one or two confident wins before the season ends, that’s all I’m hoping for atm…

Oscandwarf

‘am I like hell getting my hopes up again.’

Had to laugh. I’ve been saying the same since 1992 and the result against Wrexham. Since then I’ve spent decades watching myself do exactly the thing I said I wouldn’t do.

Limpar from the halfway line

I’m still secretly hoping we can win the league this year.

Dave M

We CAN close the gap to the top 4,
We CANNOT win the league, those is 📠. That numerically occurred a few weeks back.

39 pts off the top with 10 games to play… Oh how the once mighty fall!

Duno

I think you missed the joke mate.

Dandia

WTF you smoking limpar?

Dan

Why do the players keep saying it’s all in our hands when we need teams to drop points. So frustrating!!

Scott P

If we win every game from now until May, I think we will do it. I think that’s all the players are saying. There’s enough time left, and teams have been so inconsistent this year, that whoever is the most consistent in the run-in will be favorites for the Top 4 despite how the table currently stands.

name

probably because its likely that they will drop points.. its also a good attitude to focus on what you can control.

No. 8

I think we will see a completely different set up to the one on Saturday. At least I mean I hope we will!!

karl

The performance looked quite shaky on Saturday because we seem to only have one central midfielder until a real left back becomes available. So we sem to be getting lucky.

Xhaka plays left back mostly leaving Ceballos on his own with Auba and Saka occupying similar space.

loose_cannon

Not sure why this is getting so many downvotes, it’s actually true. A big feature of Arteta’s first few games with us was the right back, AMN, tucking in to midfield to make it a middle three. That’s not really happening anymore, and Xhaka’s positioning is now wider on the left which leave Ceballos more isolated.

Pakgooner

Saw it as something glaringly obvious against West Ham. When Xhaka moves to LB to cover for Saka, Dani is by himself in the centre. But that is not the only reason we were shaky

Hantal

Mathematically sure, but not convinced our performances are going to get us near maximum points that we need to do so. Plus we’re relying on too many teams slipping up

Doghouse

Love this guys attitude, I know Auba is likely to get player of the season for us but he’s a very close second, hes kept us in so many games with his reaction stops, because he rarely gets a motm or slated for mistakes easy to forget his outstanding performances this season.

Rich

Judging our overall performances going back a long time, I find it very unlikely.

I’d be pleasantly surprised if we took 14/30 in our last 10 games, with 6 away, 4 at home.

Not a criticism of Arteta, I think he’s right up against it, but the Arteta bounce is imaginary.

Santori

I concur.

Its still a possibility and we should push for it but there are a big bunch ahead of us and we have not produce the form to suggest we can overhaul all of them.

United looked very good against City last weekend just saying.

If we can perform similar to them or better then maybe.

The bounce has been a bit figment of those who want to believe there is one. We are as yet still threading water around 10th.

Teryima Adi

Yes, we can.