Mikel Arteta facing a crucial few weeks of fixtures for Arsenal

Overall it’s been a solid if unspectacular start to life in the Arsenal dugout for rookie manager Mikel Arteta.

The inexperienced Spaniard knew he was taking on a very difficult job when he was announced as the permanent successor to Unai Emery back in December.

Since then, Arteta has taken charge of eight games, winning three, drawing four and losing one.

Crucially, the Gunners’ performances have improved in that time, with a particularly promising performance to earn a 2-0 home win over Manchester United on New Year’s Day.

Remarkably, this means Arsenal are just five points behind 6th-placed Man Utd with a game in hand, and while there’s still a lot more ground to make up to catch up with Chelsea and grab a top four place, it might not be an impossible dream provided the next few games go well.

Arteta’s side take on Burnley this afternoon and the odds for Arsenal to win are high according to Oddspedia, so this could be an ideal fixture for AFC to start getting a little run together.

Burnley are no pushovers, as they recently showed with a 2-0 win away to United, but Arsenal have a pretty solid record against Sean Dyche’s side and will surely have too much for them if they perform at their best this afternoon.

After the trip to Turf Moor, Arsenal have two winnable home games against Newcastle and Everton to look forward to, though there’s also the small matter of a two-legged Europa League tie with Olympiacos to contend with around those games.

Arteta may well decide his focus is on making the Champions League by winning the Europa League, but it is surely these next few games that will give us a clearer idea about whether or not Arsenal can also achieve this via a top four finish.

Chelsea are currently occupying that final Champions League spot, an enjoy an eleven-point lead over their London rivals as things stand.

However, that can be cut to eight points if Arsenal win today, and while the north Londoners have an easier run of games coming up, Chelsea look sure to drop more points.

The Blues have just one win in their last five in the Premier League, and take on Man Utd and Tottenham in their next two fixtures, whilst also having to navigate their Champions League tie against the mighty Bayern Munich.

Provided Arsenal don’t slip up, this could go down to the wire, and Arteta shouldn’t give up hope of achieving a superb end to the season.

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