If you’re a fan of a top-six club, you certainly don’t want to be watching your side compete in the Europa League, do you? Well, that could well be the reality for Arsenal supporters if they don’t up their game soon, and it could mean they won’t challenge for the title for years.
The Gunners currently sit fifth, one point behind fourth-placed Manchester United and one point above Chelsea, who are in sixth with a game in hand, so it’s pretty tight up there. They and Chelsea have had to deal with the dreaded Europa League this season too, and it’s known that playing Thursday/Sunday or Thursday/Monday isn’t preferable for any club, nevermind ones looking to mount a title challenge.
The reality is that two of those three will again be playing in Europe’s second-biggest competition and whoever misses out on the Champions League spot will be at a huge disadvantage going into the transfer window in the summer and next season’s title race.
The best players want to play in Europe’s top competition and higher salaries sometimes don’t even make up for that. From Arsenal’s point of view, it doesn’t matter anyway, because they don’t have large sums of money to throw around.
They need to make themselves as attractive as possible so Unai Emery can sign the players he needs to complete the implementation of his system within the budget restraints provided by the boardroom, and that means being in the Champions League.
Indeed, it’s certainly a vicious cycle because the longer a team is out of the competition the less likely they are to attract great players and then they don’t have a squad capable of catching up with the other sides so they can’t get back in.
If Arsenal aren’t in the Champions League next season, they will have an unhealthy fixture pile-up on Thursday nights and an inadequate squad to challenge for the title. The domino effect then begins and the manager gets the blame, causing him to get the sack.
Despite it only being his first season, it’s a slippery slope for Emery if he fails to deliver in May.
Of course, if Arsenal win the Europa League this season, then they have no problem and will automatically qualify for the Champions League next season, but that’s one hell of a risk to be taking as the final games of the season draw in.
Is Emery dealing with too hard a situation at Arsenal? Is there any chance at all he can restore former glories? Join the discussion by commenting below…