Joe Cole explains why Arsenal will beat Man Utd and Tottenham to fourth in Premier League


Joe Cole is confident Arsenal “will have enough” to edge out Tottenham, Manchester United and West Ham in the fiercely-competitive race for Champions League qualification

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Arteta refutes claims pressure of top-four race got to Arsenal at Palace

Former Chelsea playmaker Joe Cole has tipped Arsenal to finish fourth in the Premier League ahead of Tottenham, West Ham and Manchester United – but Highbury hero Alan Smith is less confident.

Spurs leapfrogged their local rivals into the top four by thrashing Newcastle 5-1 last Sunday and the Gunners failed to respond the following day as they suffered a heavy 3-0 defeat at Crystal Palace. This leaves the two North London clubs level on points but, crucially, Arsenal have a game in hand.

West Ham and Manchester United are a further three points behind and remain outside contenders to qualify for the Champions League. However, Cole is bullish Arsenal will hold their nerve to prevail in the fiercely-competitive top-four race having seen them dig deep to win 1-0 at Aston Villa in March.

“Chelsea will do it. I can see Arsenal finishing fourth too. I think it will be Chelsea and Arsenal in those last two positions,” the former England international told JOE. “Having the points on the board is massive. I covered Arsenal’s win at Aston Villa and it was one of those where Arsenal might have got beat in the last few years.

“I know they slipped up against Crystal Palace but I just think Arsenal will have enough, what Mikel Arteta has done there has been brilliant. I think Chelsea finish third and Arsenal should come fourth.” Cole’s optimism over Arsenal’s top-four chances was tentatively shared by former Gunners striker Smith.

But the 59-year-old harbours concerns about Arteta’s growing injury list with Kieran Tierney and Thomas Partey facing races to be fit before the end of the season. “I hope you’re right. I worked on the Palace game and we lost Kieran Tierney which is a real blow,” Smith said in response to Cole.

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Tottenham and Arsenal will lock horns in a blockbuster clash on 12 May
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“Partey got an injury too and he’s been really good so that’s a worry. You’re just looking for them to bounce back now because that would have affected the team and their confidence.

“They got steam-rolled by Palace really, like how some of Arsene Wenger’s teams did in his last few years at the club. Arsenal are better than that now so I think and hope it was just a bad day at the office. But they need to bounce back against Brighton on Saturday.

“Hopefully they can sneak into the top four but things are happening at Spurs under Antonio Conte so it will be tight.” As mentioned by Smith, Arsenal host Brighton on Saturday, while Spurs travel to Aston Villa. Manchester United return to action away to Everton and West Ham face Brentford.

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