Arsenal entered Sunday’s match with almost everything falling the Gunners’ way. Seven out of the previous eight matches had been clean sheets. Two victories over Napoli to advance in the Europa League. Tottenham and Manchester United had lost earlier in the weekend, giving Emery’s men the chance to secure third place (ahead of what would be Chelsea dropping two points on Monday).
At home against a Crystal Palace team with very little to play for should have given Arsenal a chance to definitely take control in the race for the top four. Then the lineup was announced. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette, and Mesut Ozil up top looked promising. But the seven behind them consisted of Matteo Guendouzi, Mohamed Elneny, Carl Jenkinson, Shkodran Mustafi, Sead Kolasinac, Stavros Mavropanos, and Laurent Koscielny. That was doomed to give up goals. Sure enough, the day ended with a 3-2 loss and an overall sense of frustration, similar to Everton a few weeks ago.
Just like in that match, Emery and the players have to forget the opportunity lost and refocus for Wolverhampton on Wednesday. They are in fifth place, one point behind Chelsea (but with a better goal differential), and are in the semifinals for a European trophy. But what are the odds that Arsenal reach both of those goals?
Probability of Finishing Top 4
FiveThirtyEight heavily reduced Arsenal’s chances after the loss to Palace, but the Gunners are still favorites for fourth. They have Arsenal at a 66% chance to finish in the top four, ending the season on 74 points. Chelsea‘s draw on Monday saw side fall from what was a predicted tie with Arsenal on 74 points now to only a 31% probability of making the top four. Also playing into Arsenal’s favor is that Manchester United face Chelsea next weekend.
Arsenal are favored to win all four of their matches, but given the side’s recent history, required rotation due to the number of matches still to play, and players nursing minor injuries, none of the final four games are a given.
Europa League Changes
While the makeshift Arsenal defense couldn’t hold back the Crystal Palace defense, the first choice lineup shut out Napoli over two legs. The 3-0 aggregate win sent the Gunners into the Europa League semifinals were they well take on Valencia, currently 6th in La Liga.
538 currently has the two sides locked in a 50-50 chance to advance to the final in Baku. Meanwhile, Chelsea are given a 65% chance to advance past Eintracht Frankfurt, and 36% odds of winning the entire thing. Arsenal definitely have had to travel the more difficult road than their London rivals, but will like their chances of not only advancing but lifting the Europa League trophy for the first time.