Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville believe Arsenal are in with a great chance to make the top four after beating Watford on Monday night, but the pundits refused to label the Gunners as favourites.
Arsenal’s 1-0 win against ten-men Watford was their first clean sheet away from home this season and their first victory on the road since Boxing Day.
It was another difficult night for Arsenal despite the man advantage, with the Gunners ultimately grabbing the points thanks to an early mistake from Ben Foster.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang punched on the error to put Arsenal in front and Troy Deeney was sent off for an elbow on Lucas Torreira soon after.
Neville and Carragher have already said they expect Tottenham and Manchester United to make top four, though Arsenal are now two points ahead of the Red Devils and have a game in hand over Chelsea.
Despite Arsenal’s current position, Carragher still thinks the Gunners will struggle to qualify for next season’s Champions League through the league, while Neville admitted he was impressed Unai Emery had guided such poor side into the top four.
Carragher on Arsenal’s run-in:
‘No [they’re not favourites]. I said before, I didn’t think they’d get in the top four because of their away form. I didn’t expect them to win tonight, obviously the circumstances have gone with them tonight. Unai Emery is not soft, that was a great result, but not a great performance. That doesn’t matter. The fact the opposition team were down to ten men and probably should have got something, that’ll be a worry for the other away games. You look at the home games and think they’ll look after themselves for Arsenal. But the away games, you still feel they’ll have to win one of them. Looking at it… ]they should win] one [out] of three, with the team Arsenal have, but you’d still fear for them away from home. Six points for me is a guarantee and that gets them to 72. Whether they could pick up another three or four points, that would be enough. But they’re not easy games away from home.’
Neville on Arsenal’s run-in:
‘I think I said before the game, for them to be where they are with a game in hand over Chelsea, navigating the Europa League – we’ve always talked about how difficult it is to play Thursday and Sundays. I think it’s a brilliant performance when you think of Chelsea and Manchester United have spent a fortune. Chelsea have the better squad, with Eden Hazard. Arsenal are nowhere near that. When you look at that Arsenal team… there’s a lot of questions to have answered. You think of Ramsey leaving, of Ozil, the defenders, the midfielders still don’t look right, you’re not convinced about the goalkeeper, the full-backs look like they could change every week and yet, he’s getting that level of performance out them. I think it’s a brilliant performance.’
Carragher on Arsenal’s need for Champions League football:
‘Unai Emery isn’t stupid. He’ll be thinking please get me into the Champions League and then he can get to grips with what’s going on here. He’s seen what he’s got in 12 months, but this team still needs sorting out. Gary’s right, he is doing a brilliant job with what he’s got. For him, it’s just get the results, forget performances. To perform like that against ten men is not great, but if he just gets the money for the defenders next season in the summer to improve this team.’