Arsenal in the Europa League: Reviewing What Could Happen
With both Manchester clubs edging closer to a first and second placed finish, Chelsea ran riot past fellow London rivals, Fulham, to leapfrog Arsenal to third place, as the Gunners failed to seal maximum points against Everton. With Tottenham and Everton on the prowl, Arsenal might be the unlucky team to lose out on a Champions League place.
I’m delighted to introduce a guest writer for today’s post, Luke Aylward, a sports writer and tipster who specializes in football and darts coverage.
Ever since Arsene Wenger took over as manager in 1996, Arsenal has been transformed from underachieving also-rans into one of Europe’s biggest and most respected clubs. His patient, attacking tactics have helped to rid the side of the ‘Boring, Boring Arsenal’ tag which the club were given previously by opposing fans, and he’s won more silverware than any other Gunners boss.
Unfortunately the shine from his reign has lost a little of its luster in recent years. Despite winning ten trophies to date in North London, Wenger hasn’t won any major title since 2005. In that dry spell, the intelligent Frenchman has claimed that their consistency in qualifying for the Champions League is a good enough achievement.
From 1998 onwards, Arsenal has never failed to qualify for the Champions League, something no other club in England can boast, but this record is under threat. In financial terms, making Europe’s premier club competition is massive as it means they can spend more on players every summer as well as keep their big stars without being under pressure to sell.
Despite being a fixture in the top four of the Premier League, Arsenal’s trophy-less spell is causing a little unrest among fans. The recent sales of Cesc Fabregas, Gael Clichy, Robin van Persie and Alex Song to richer and more ambitious clubs have served to further undermine their chances of lifting silverware and could ultimately see them drop out of Europe’s elite.
Fifth Place a Disaster?
Although Arsenal have posted some good financial results in recent years following their move to the Emirates Stadium, Wenger hasn’t been too spendthrift in his transfer policy. Whatever money he has spent on the likes of Oliver Giroud and Lukas Podolski, Wenger has sold big names for big money (over £20m for van Persie’s sale this summer).
Finishing in fifth position would see their income drop by around £20m at least, which may force Arsenal to part with another big name to make up the shortfall. Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott and Thomas Vermaelen are all players that the likes of the two Manchester clubs, Barcelona and Real Madrid might want to sign this summer.
What are the Chances?
As it stands, Arsenal are currently in fourth place, one point behind Chelsea and two ahead of Tottenham. While the Gunners visit Craven Cottage to play a Fulham side ripped apart by Chelsea, they will be hoping for their London rivals, Tottenham and the Blues of course, to drop points against Manchester City and Liverpool this weekend.
Chelsea do have a game in hand though. Recent league form suggests that they could stay above their north London neighbours and possibly stay ahead of a stuttering Chelsea to boot. They’ve won eight out of their last 10 league games which is impressive compared to the start of the season.
Should they miss out, it might not just be their finances that suffer – failure by Wenger to deliver a top four finish could spell the end of his lengthy reign with Arsenal. As he’s been in charge for so long, his departure could mean a step into the unknown. While a new manager might bring new ideas and possibly some success, it could work the other way.
Return to Obscurity
One season out of the Champions League might leave Arsenal to concentrate purely on domestic matters, but if they fail again, that could see the club regress. Poor performances could affect attendances, the players’ confidence and income, which the moneymen at the Emirates might not like. Reverting back to being a mid-table club could undo all Wenger’s positive work.
The odds of Arsenal making the Champions League next season with Ladbrokes are currently 2/9, which is still better than Tottenham who are at 5/4. However, they have plenty of work still to do if they are to reach the top four for the 16th consecutive season in a row.
Looking at the run in Chelsea have to play Liverpool, Manchester United, Tottenham and Everton while The Gunners have Manchester United and two of the bottom three in the form of QPR and Wigan and with it still mathematically possible for these teams to stay up these games will not be easy.
Tottenham on the other hand have to face Manchester City and Chelsea as well as strugglers Wigan, Stoke and Sunderland.
Arsenal fans have become so accustomed to playing Champions League football, they believe its their “birthright”. The question is – What if… Arsenal were to end up in the Europa League next season?
About the author:
Luke Aylward is a sports writer and tipster who specializes in football and darts coverage.
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