Arsène Wenger is not a betting man. The Arsenal manager is happy to talk about the odds and, sometimes, to shout them but he would never wager any money on the outcome of a match. To him, it is a fool’s errand and it is so for good reason – the sport is gloriously and maddeningly unpredictable.
Wenger knows what everybody is thinking as he goes into the final day of the Premier League season, with his team sitting fifth, one point behind Liverpool and three behind Manchester City. There are plenty of permutations that would lead to Arsenal squeezing into a Champions League place, but the most basic way of putting it is they must beat Everton at the Emirates Stadium and either Liverpool slip up or City do so badly.
Liverpool face Middlesbrough at Anfield while City travel to Watford. Not for the first time, Wenger noted that Arsenal would return a tally of 75 points if they were to beat Everton – four more than they gained last season when finishing second. No Premier League team has finished outside the top four with 75 points.
“We can do 75 points, so let’s do it,” Wenger said. “Will it be enough or not? I don’t know. If you had to bet, you would say: ‘No, it will not be enough.’ But you never know.”
The bookmakers think they do. They have Liverpool at 1-9 to qualify for the Champions League and City at 1-100. Arsenal are 6-1, which does not feel overly generous and probably explains why the bookies never truly lose.
Wenger, though, is mindful that strange things can happen on the final day of a season and, almost instinctively, he brought up the most famous finale of them all. “Man City won the championship in the last minute against QPR,” Wenger said. “So, it can happen.”
City’s moment came in 2011-12, when Sergio Agüero scored in the fourth minute of added time to secure a 3-2 victory over Queens Park Rangers, which meant they pipped Manchester United to the title.
Wenger has first-hand experience of a last-day drama and…