Arsenal gunning for 18th straight Champions League appearance

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English Premier League club Arsenal is currently enjoying its 17th straight season in the European Champions League and it looks like making the tournament for an 18th consecutive year is their priority now. The Gunners were beaten 2-1 at White Hart Lane by arch rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the North London derby on Feb. 7 after blowing a 1-0 lead. That loss left them 14 behind league-leaders Chelsea and manager Arsene Wenger is realistic enough to know his team has no chance at the Premier League title this year.

Arsenal is listed at 4/9 at bet365 to finish in the top four this season and reach the Champions League.

Instead, the Gunners will be aiming for a top-four league finish which will see them reach Europe’s top competition for the 18th time in a row and the millions of pounds it earns them. The only other teams that have recorded longer streaks in their history are Manchester United and Spain’s Real Madrid. However, Arsenal has quite a fight on their hands to pull off the achievement when the season concludes in May. They’re currently sitting in sixth place in the league with 42 points from 24 games.

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While first place looks to be out of reach for Wenger and his squad, Arsenal is just seven points behind second-place Manchester City, three back of third-place Southampton, two behind fourth-place Man United and just one behind fifth-place Tottenham. Fourth place is certainly attainable and it’s possible Arsenal could reach as high as second, but to do so Wenger realizes his players need to be more consistent. They’ve already dropped 30 points this campaign with a record of 12 wins, six draws and six losses and can’t afford to squander many more.

Wenger recently told the British media, “We have to be realistic. What we want is to win every game we can. What we want to do is focus on our performances and show that we can produce consistent results. After, where we will finish, it is difficult to say.”

The manager is anxious to see how his new signing Gabriel Paulista of Brazil will perform for the rest of the season. The 24-year-old centre-back was signed in the recent January transfer window from Villarreal of the Spanish La Liga for 11.5 million pounds. As part of the deal, Arsenal sent Costa Rican international forward to Villarreal on loan for the remainder of 2014/15. Wenger may be taking a chance on Paulista as he’s yet to make an appearance for the Brazilian national team.

Wenger claims Paulista is a defensive-minded player who prefers to take care of things in his own end first before joining in on the attack. Wenger scouted the player several times in Spain and believed he was worth taking a risk on due to his impressive play and also likes the fact that he can play anywhere in the back four. But for Arsenal to reach the Champions League again and retain the English FA Cup this season they will need to stay healthy and play better against the league’s top five clubs.

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