Top 4 Gone, Arsenal Flip into Europa

BY BBC

Arsenal’s focus is now on the Europa League, says boss Unai Emery, after his lacklustre side’s hopes of a top-four Premier League finish were effectively ended by a 1-1 draw with Brighton.

The Gunners are three points behind Tottenham in fourth with one game to play but would need an eight-goal swing, as well as results going their way, to overtake their rivals.

Barring that highly improbable scenario, Arsenal will need to win the Europa League to play in the Champions League next season and take a 3-1 advantage into their semi-final second-leg in Valencia on Thursday.

“We knew it was going to be difficult but our focus is now the Europa League,” Emery, who won the competition three times in a row with Sevilla, told BBC Sport.

“We have the opportunity in the Europa League to do something important and we will try and do that.”

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang put Arsenal in front at Emirates Stadium with a ninth-minute penalty after Alireza Jahanbakhsh was judged to have fouled Nacho Monreal despite appearing to get the ball.

Aside from occasional bursts, Emery’s side were shaky and sloppy, with Granit Xhaka committing an absurd foul on Solly March to concede a penalty that Glenn Murray converted on 61 minutes.

Arsenal frantically searched for a winner but Aubameyang volleyed wide from seven yards out and Brighton keeper Mat Ryan made a series of fine saves.

Pascal Gross could have won the game for Brighton late on but skewed his effort out towards the sideline with the goal unmanned after Bernd Leno’s superb save from March, while the visitors withstood another flurry from Arsenal in the final stages.

Blues secure UCL spot

Meanwhile Chelsea secured their place in the Champions League next season with a 3-0 victory over Watford at Stamford Bridge.

The win,┬ácombined with Arsenal’s draw against Brighton,┬ámeans the Blues are guaranteed a top-four finish in the Premier League.

After a quiet first half, Chelsea scored twice within three minutes early in the second period through headers by Ruben Loftus-Cheek and David Luiz.

Gonzalo Higuain sealed the points with a neat finish from Pedro’s pass for his fifth goal for the club.

The win moves Chelsea up to third, one point ahead of Tottenham and four points clear of the fifth-placed Gunners.

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