Arsenal should be overlooked in three-way tussle for fourth place

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Arsenal’s arm-length list of issues make their price of 17/20 for a top-four finish one very much worth avoiding, with two superior alternatives offering far better value for money in this market.

The Gunners’ north London rivals Tottenham somehow remain odds-against at 23/20 to qualify for next season’s Champions League and, while the Everton bandwagon has shown no signs of slowing down over the festive period, the Toffees are massive outsiders to achieve the same feat at 9/2.

Arsene Wenger’s side are currently below both in the Premier League table and, despite having a game in-hand, have five points worth of ground to make up in order to catch Spurs, with a trip to White Hart Lane to come in the second half of the season.

It’s not the first time Arsenal’s top-four finishing credentials have been called into question, with almost every one of the past five or six seasons falsely billed as the one where their 15-year record of successive Champions League qualifications will come to an end.

Lapses at the back have been prevalent throughout this spell, yet this term they have often lacked the guile and ingenuity in the final third that has always been a staple of any Arsenal team under their long-serving French coach.

With defensive fallibilities refusing to go away, an inability to find the net signals many more dropped points to come in the second half of the season and this makes it increasingly difficult to envisage how they’re going to catch the ever-improving Spurs and Everton.

Andre Villas-Boas’ men have picked up wins in four of their last five league encounters and with their ranks expected to bolstered by the acquisition of a playmaker in the coming weeks, they should be looking to make inroads into the six-point gap Manchester City have forged between second and third.

Everton have lost just the single game in their last nine and only City have been beaten on fewer occasions during the current league campaign.

Their Champions League aspirations will hinge on an ability to hang on to star men Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini with the transfer window open but, if they can stave off their suitors, then they should not be ruled out of the running to reserve a seat at Europe’s top table for next season.

In all likelihood, only one of these clubs can finish in the top-four, but both have made stronger cases than Arsenal in the first half of the season and there is nothing being offered on the Gunners’ behalf that suggests that this will change at the business end of the campaign.

All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date

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