Arsenal face Sunderland on Sunday, hoping to go one game and three points closer to securing Champions League football for next season.
No, it’s not the season finale fans or players had hoped for but there is still work to be done with both Manchester clubs in pursuit.
A promising win against West Brom on Thursday was encouraging but not enough to quell the worries of fans just yet. A win against Sunderland wouldn’t do that either but it would at least take the Gunners closer to Champions League as attention begins to turn towards next season.
Arsenal still have everyone available from the win against West Brom while Jack Wilshere could feature for the first team for the first time this season.
Per Mertesacker, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud were all in the side on Thursday and will hope to keep Gabriel, Francis Coquelin and Danny Welbeck out of the side.
Possible XI: Čech; Bellerín, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin, Elneny; Ramsey, Özil, Iwobi; Welbeck.
There are no two ways about it, Sunderland desperately need the points to stay up. The Black Cats are a point from safety as things stand and have a game in hand on Norwich but no game is easy and they will see a home match against Arsenal as a chance to grab something.
Sam Allardyce’s side will be set up defensively, hoping to keep a clean sheet and make the most of opportunities from dead ball situations and counter-attacks.
Those ploys weren’t enough at the Emirates Stadium this season, where the Gunners saw off Allardyce’s side to win 3-1 in both the Premier League and the FA Cup.
Wahbi Khazri and Jan Kirchhoff have been impressive signings but Sunderland will rely on gritty defence to get anything from the game.
Possible XI: Mannone; Yedlin, Koné, Kaboul, Aanholt; Borini, Cattermole, Kirchhoff, M’Vila, Khazri; Defoe.
Arsenal are closing in on yet another season in Europe and Thursday’s win should have given the side the boost needed to deliver between now and the end of the season.
With Manchester United playing in the FA Cup this weekend, there’s a chance to put seven points between them and ourselves, which would make our Champions League involvement all but certain.