Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal are currently sitting in the third spot with only four games to go. Manchester City are just two points behind them as the race for the Champions League spots is intensifying.
The Gunners picked up three points against West Brom on Thursday and are now back to the third spot in the Premier League table. However, one slip-up can cost them the automatic qualification for the group stages of the tournament.
The team which finished fourth will have to play a two-legged play-off in order to qualify for the Champions League proper. Arsenal’s French boss is hoping that his team finishes within the top three as many of the players in the Arsenal squad will feature for their national teams at the European Championship in France this summer.
“Top four is not Champions League, top three, yes,” Arsene Wenger said. “That’s why it is important.
“What has changed over the years is that the impact of the finances in the Champions League is not as big any more. For a period in the past, the money was vital.
“But the sporting impact, the planning of the next season, of course, it changes completely, especially when you have a big summer tournament like the Euros which is now like a World Cup.
“When you have to play Champions League qualifiers the European Championship is still going on.
“You can play teams in the qualifiers who are in the middle of their league championship because they have started already in June.
“We are not guaranteed a top-four [finish], and we have to fight for that.”
Manchester United are also in the mix for the top four spot, so it can be a very close finish. Manchester City will play host to Stoke City on Saturday while Arsenal meet relegation-threatened Sunderland on Sunday as they look to consolidate third place.