Unai Emery offers bizarre prediction about Arsenal's finishing position
The Gunners are now behind Chelsea and Manchester United after recent defeats to Manchester City and West Ham
Unai Emery has admitted Arsenal cannot finish in the top three – and a top-four slot is unlikely.
Terrible away form has seen Gunners slip to sixth place behind Chelsea and Manchester United in the chase for the final Champions League place.
And after a January window in which Arsenal brought only another lightweight midfielder on loan, the Basque boss has started to condition fans to a third campaign without Champions League football next season.
“There are teams better than us,” said Emery. “Are we outsiders now for a top-four finish? Yes, we are sixth. That’s the reality.
“We still have to believe we can finish in the top four even while knowing it will be difficult for us.
“There’s a big difference between the top three (Liverpool , Manchester City , and Tottenham ) and us but we are a lot closer to Chelsea and Manchester United.
“The gap to the top three is too big but the other two? The possibility to catch them is there because we are only three points behind Chelsea and one point behind Manchester United. We still have to believe that we can do it.”
Missing a Champions League campaign cost Arsenal, still in the Europa League (they play at BATE Borisov next Thursday), £30million last season.
After picking up only two points in their last six games on the road, Emery stated his side have to win at rock-bottom Huddersfield on Saturday.
He also called on his squad, who have won only four of their 13 Premier League away fixtures, to rediscover their confidence and passion.
“Saturday is a very big opportunity for us,” said Emery, who wants a repeat of the form Gunners showed in beating Spurs 4-2 at the Emirates in December and Chelsea 2-0 last month.
“They were very important moments in our season and now there is another important moment coming on Saturday,” he said.
“I do not want the players to think they are under pressure from me. I do want them to know what I demand from them – the ambition to finish in the top four.”
Gunners entertain top-four rivals Manchester United in mid-March and have a far-from demanding run-in after that.
Emery claimed Matteo Guendouzi’s summer decision to put his new club before country has helped him quickly become an Arsenal favourite.
The big-haired midfielder turned down a return to his former club Paris Saint-Germain to join in a £7million deal from French side Lorient last July.
He opted to miss the UEFA Under-19 Championships in Sweden to go on the pre-season tour to Singapore and he established himself in the first team by the start of the Premier League season.
Emery said of the 19-year-old: “The first impression from him is very good. We saw this from the first weeks of pre-season when he arrived here and started training.
“It was a very big decision not to play with the national team in the summer. He wanted to stay and work with us to show his capacity in pre-season. He adapted very quickly and has made very good progress.”
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