Arsene Wenger's Arsenal likely to miss out on Champions League, data company says
Arsenal will most likely miss out on a place in next season's Champions League - with their fate set to be decided when they visit Stoke on 13 May, according to a sports analysis group.
The Gunners - seven points off fourth place with eight games left - have not finished outside the top four during Arsene Wenger's 21-year reign.
But data company Gracenote Sports suggests that run will end on the penultimate weekend of the season - if the top four clubs continue to take points at the rate they have so far.
The calculations have been made more difficult by the fact that a number of Premier League fixtures still have to be rearranged - including two for Arsenal, and one each for fellow Champions League contenders Manchester City and Manchester United.
But Simon Gleave, head of analysis at Gracenote Sports, told BBC Sport: "If all those in the top four had played 36 matches by 13 May, Arsenal would go into their match at Stoke City six points behind Manchester City and Liverpool.
"Points for either of them - or no win for Arsenal at Stoke - would mean that there was no longer a chance of a top-four place."
Gleave suggested that the cut-off could come sooner for Arsenal, currently sixth, based on recent form.
That is because they have taken fewer points per match since the turn of the year than they did in the first part of the season.
"If the four clubs were to continue taking points at the rate they have been since New Year's Day, it will no longer be mathematically possible for Arsenal to achieve a top-four place before that match against Stoke City," Gleave added.
"However, given their backlog of fixtures, the likelihood is that Arsenal will have an extra midweek match still to play after that Stoke fixture.
"Either way, Arsenal's visit to Stoke looks likely to be the point that Arsenal's top-four streak could come to an end.
"Football, though, continues to surprise us, so perhaps Arsene Wenger's charges will now go on an unlikely run of wins and still be in the mix for a top-four place in a month's time."
Wenger, who is out of contract at the end of the season, has yet to announce whether he will continue as Arsenal manager.
Following Monday's 3-0 defeat at Crystal Palace, he denied his failure to announce his future plans had affected the team.
No St Totteringham's Day? The run-in
'St Totteringham's Day' has long been celebrated by Arsenal fans - the time of the season where it is mathematically impossible for north London neighbours Tottenham to finish above them in the league.
However, Tottenham look set to finish in the top four and are 14 points ahead of Wenger's side.
Wenger has never finished below Tottenham in the league since he took over as manager - and Arsenal have not finished below Spurs at all since 1994-95.
|Fixture list for the top-four hopefuls|
|Date||Liverpool||Man City||Man Utd||Arsenal||Everton|
|15 April||So'ton (A)||Burnley (H)|
|16 April||West Brom (A)||Chelsea (H)|
|17 April||Middlesbro (A)|
|22 April||West Ham (A)|
|23 April||C Palace (H)||Burnley (A)|
|26 April||Leicester (H)|
|27 April||Man Utd (H)||Man City (A)|
|30 April||Middlesbro (A)||Swansea (H)||Tottenham (A)||Chelsea (H)|
|1 May||Watford (A)|
|6 May||C Palace (H)||Swansea (A)|
|7 May||So'ton (H)||Arsenal (A)||Man Utd (H)|
|13 May||West Ham (A)||Leicester (H)||Tottenham (A)||Stoke (A)||Watford (H)|
|21 May||Middlesbro (A)||Watford (A)||C Palace (H)||Everton (H)||Arsenal (A)|
|TBA||West Brom (H)||So'ton (A)||Sunderland (H)|
'It's time for him to go'
Former Arsenal striker John Hartson, who played for Arsenal during the opening months of Wenger's reign, said he expected them to finish in fifth or sixth place.
"I worked under Arsene Wenger and I've always sort of been in the camp of 'Arsene Wenger's great and he's done fantastic,'" Hartson told BBC Radio 5 live on Tuesday.
"I just think now it's time for him to go. I really do and it hurts me to say that because I like Arsene Wenger."
'Invincibles to Invisibles' - analysis
Former Blackburn and Chelsea striker Chris Sutton on BBC Radio 5 live:
"At one time, Arsene Wenger managed the Invincibles. He is now managing the Invisibles. He has to go, because the players are not listening.
"The biggest problem with Arsenal is that it's Wenger who makes the decision on his future. I don't get it. It should be up to the owners.
"They must be embarrassed by tonight's performance. It was limp. They were played off the park by a team in danger of relegation.
"It was a pathetic showing."