Mikel Arteta not looking far ahead despite Arsenal moving back into fourth with Leicester win; Gunners have three games in hand on Man Utd, West Ham and Wolves in race for Champions League football; watch Arsenal vs Liverpool on Wednesday live on Sky Sports Premier League; kick-off 8.15pm
Sunday 13 March 2022 21:11, UK
Will anyone catch Arsenal in the race for a top-four finish and Champions League football?
That was the topic of debate in the Super Sunday studio after the Gunners moved back into fourth spot in the Premier League with a 2-0 win over Leicester City at the Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal have not finished in the top four since Arsene Wenger was in charge and last season did not qualify for Europe for the first time since the 1994/95 campaign, but Sunday's comfortable victory opened up a one-point advantage on fifth-placed Manchester United, who have played three games more.
West Ham in sixth and seventh-placed Wolves have also played three games more than the Gunners, and are three and five points worse off respectively.
Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp believes Arsenal's absence from cup and European competitions could prove decisive in their bid to finish in the top four.
"They have got no distractions; they have got no cup games which is important in terms of keeping everyone fit," he said. "Others have cup and European competitions.
"The way Arsenal are playing; you can see what Mikel Arteta is doing on the training ground is coming to fruition. While the other teams have cup games, Arsenal just have to concentrate on what they're doing.
"You can see they are working hard for each other. There is a real belief in this side. It looks like it is enjoyable in that team now. They are playing with a smile on their face. There are interactions and they are enjoying playing with each other. The patterns of play are there, and it is a joy to watch."
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink joined Redknapp in the Super Sunday studio and explained why he saw no evidence of Arsenal being caught in fourth.
"Yes [I think Arsenal will finish in the top four]," the former Chelsea striker said. "They are playing really well and are in a really good moment.
"I don't see them dropping off and I don't see Manchester United catching them. They are playing well against teams outside the top four and they are taking points, so if they can keep on doing that, they will be in the top four."
Micah Richards believes the confidence in the Arsenal camp, coupled with their three games in hand on top-four rivals Manchester United and West Ham, will be enough to get the Gunners over the line.
"It's the games in hand," Richards said. "They have to win them, of course, but it's nice to have a bit of a buffer.
"With that confidence, they just have to concentrate. Leave us to do the talking and let them do the talking on the pitch. If they play like they did today, they'll be fine.
"There will be twists and turns because that's the Premier League. You can tell Arteta's quite confident, I've not seen him smile for a while! He was beaming, especially after that performance."
Arsenal are in a promising position to be in heading into the home straight, but head coach Arteta is not looking too far ahead.
"I look at the table for the games we have remaining," the Gunners boss said. "We know where we are, but we have to look forwards.
"We have to look at what we do, focus on our performances, and prepare for the next match: that's it. The rest would be just guessing. I'm not a great gambler, I never have been, and I don't want to gamble now."