As Arsenal went down to their fourth league defeat in five games at Brighton on Sunday all I could think about was that the Europa League is the Gunners last hope of salvaging anything from the season.
The Gunners face AC Milan on Thursday night in the last 16 first leg at the San Siro. It is hard to envisage the visitors gaining a positive result in Milan.
Poor results have bred poor confidence
No doubt confidence is low at Arsenal at the minute. Five defeats in seven games in all competitions tend to have that sort of effect on a team. Teams with low confidence never seem to be able to get anything right.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has a massive job on his hands lifting players after Sunday’s 2-1 defeat at Brighton. Another defeat would just be a step closer to the exit door for the Gunners veteran French boss.
Milan in good form under Gattuso
If Arsenal would have faced AC Milan a few months ago, they would have been facing a very different team. However, the appointment of former Rangers midfielder Gennaro Gattuso as Rossoneri boss lifted spirits at the famous old Italian club.
In fact, Milan are now 13 games unbeaten in all competitions. They have also managed clean sheets in their last six competitive games. Add to the fact that they had a rest at the weekend due to the Milan derby’s postponement and it could spell trouble for the Gunners.
The north London side’s recent away record does not bode for a positive outcome in the fashion capital.
Still third favourites to win the competition
Arsenal are still third favourites to win the Europa League at 13/2, despite their recent poor run of form in every competition.
The likes of Dortmund and Atletico Madrid are very good teams. However, then there are a few other teams like Thursday’s opponents Milan, Lazio, RB Leipzig and even Lyon that would cause the Gunners problems in this competition.
At the start of the season, the Europa League seemed like a distraction from the fight for a top-four spot. However, it now seems to be the priority for the north London side this season, as Wenger has recently admitted.
The way that Arsenal are performing at the minute, it would be highly surprising if the Gunners managed to go all the way in the Europa League and lifted the trophy. If they do not then it seems that Wenger’s side will once again miss out on Champions League football for next season.
Are Arsenal capable of winning the Europa League?