Unai Emery ready to write off Arsenal top four hopes if they lose to Chelsea

The Gunners boss is still clinging to dreams of qualifying for next season’s Champions League after two years out of Europe’s top competition.

But he admits the gap will be too large if they fall nine points behind the fourth-placed Blues with only 15 games to play.

Last Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at West Ham means there is no more margin for error at the Emirates this evening.

Arsenal trail Maurizio Sarri’s team by six points and are a further point behind Tottenham, who go to Fulham tomorrow.

Emery admits defeat today would leave his team needing Europa League glory to earn a Champions League return.

He said: “Would nine points be too much of a gap for us? Yes, I think so.

“After our loss to West Ham, there is a big difference to being six points behind Chelsea instead of three points.

“So now the opportunity for us is not the same. If we win against them, we have the chance to be closer.

“It is a big ambition of ours to take this opportunity and play with all we can.”

Arsenal have been playing catch-up since losing their first two games of the season against Manchester City and Chelsea.

They did force their way into the top four in October but have fallen away alarmingly in the past month.

Emery is also facing a headache over what to do with the fit-again Mesut Ozil, who does not seem to fit into the Spaniard’s plans.

And the Gunners will drop to sixth if they fail to match resurgent Manchester United’s result at home to Brighton today.

With their next two away games in the league at Manchester City and Spurs, they simply must beat the Blues to avoid a backlash from fans.

They are only two points better off than they were at the same stage of last season under Arsene Wenger.

And only six teams have conceded more league goals this campaign than the Gunners’ 32, despite Emery’s constant tactical reshuffles.

The Gunners chief now seems wedded to playing three at the back in his search for greater defensive stability, even at the cost of restricting his attacking options.

But he insisted: “The best possibility for us when we can’t control the match as we want is to use three centre-backs.

“It depends on the opposition and also on our players. But, tactically, it is good to be rich in options.

“Chelsea are a team that usually creates a lot of chances per match. We are also a team that is scoring a lot of goals.

“But what I want is to score and not concede. We work to find this balance.”

Emery says Chelsea’s 12-goal top scorer Eden Hazard will provide a huge test.

He admitted: “Hazard has made the difference in a lot of matches. All the big teams think about trying to sign him.”

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