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Arsene Wenger Insists it’s Still “Mathematically Possible” to Catch Liverpool

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Arsenal’s fate isn’t in their own hands any more, but their manager is still clinging to hope.

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Most years, at least of late, have seen Liverpool fans sitting nervously over the final month or two of the season, looking at the table, imagining what needs to happen for the club to qualify for the Champions League. Loudly proclaiming that while it's still mathematically impossible, the dream isn't dead.

This season, things are the other way around. Even if Manchester United win their two games in hand, Liverpool would almost certainly be ahead of them on goal differential. Even if Arsenal won their two in hand, Liverpool would be three points ahead of the Gunners. This year, it's others trying to convince themselves.

"For us the clarity is there," said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger after his side beat Middlesbrough 2-1 to cut the gap between them and Manchester City to seven points and Liverpool to nine. "We have to win every game to have a chance to get in the top four and that's starting with tonight."

In addition to the two they have on Liverpool, Arsenal have a game in hand on City, who are currently two back of the Reds themselves but, unlike Arsenal, control their own destiny. If City win out, there's nothing Liverpool could do—including winning out themselves—to stop them leapfrogging into third in the final table.

For Arsenal, though, they've reached the stage in the season when they not only need to win every remaining league game, but they need at least one of the sides ahead of them to stumble. They also need Manchester United to stumble, given they're sat stuck in fifth ahead of them.

"Mathematically it is still possible," insisted Wenger, a refrain that will sound familiar to many Liverpool fans given it's the refrain they have themselves fallen back on repeatedly in recent seasons. "It is difficult but we have to give it a go. I think that it will make the team a bit more serene."

Possible, perhaps, but even then not fully within their control. For Liverpool, on the other hand, a top four finish is now probable. And for Liverpool, no matter the outcome and unlike for Arsenal and United, what happens next is within their own control.