Champions League dates threaten Arsenal’s top-four hopes

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Having needed to collect 26 points from their final 10 games of last season to seal a Champions League place on the final day, Arsenal will be hoping to make life a lot easier for themselves in this respect in the upcoming campaign.

With a big-spending summer potentially ahead, many punters will fancy Arsenal to finish in the top four at 4/6 to secure Champions League football for the 17th consecutive campaign.

However, of the four English clubs bracing themselves for the Champions League this season, it is Arsenal that look to have drawn the short straw in the Premier League fixtures that directly follow their European adventures.

The Gunners were unbeaten in their six league outings after European fixtures last season, but three of these were against fellow London opposition and only their trip to Manchester City would have been considered especially difficult.

This time, they have been allocated an away game after five of the six Champions League dates, including trips to the two title favourites – Man City again and Man Utd.

None of the other three clubs involved in the Champions League have such difficult fixtures following European games.

Chelsea have the best of it as they are at home in five of their six, while even though Man City will take on all of the other three teams in the competition, they at least face Man Utd and Arsenal at the Etihad.

Although 1/8 is not the most appetising of prices to feast on, Chelsea’s chances of finishing in the top four this season are hard to oppose based on their intertwining of Champions League and Premier League fixtures.

Tottenham are the obvious direct challengers to Arsenal for a top-four spot and they are at home in games following five of their six Europa League outings.

And with Andre Villas-Boas more likely to be able to rest players in this competition than Arsene Wenger will be in the Champions League, this could be significant.

Therefore, Tottenham’s prospects of a top-four finish at 5/4 suddenly look a bit stronger after the unveiling of the fixture list.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.