The clubs who have managed to secure a place in one of UEFA’s competitions for this season start their respective campaigns this week, and for the first time in 25 years, Arsenal are not among them. There are, of course, consequences of such a situation, several negative, but also some positive ones relating to Arsenal’s current overall predicament. Much has been said about the club’s transition phase taking too long to end, and with that in mind, it’s not really surprising that they have no place in the Europa League – let alone the Champions League, and that in itself is a pretty sobering thought. The Gunners produced a second consecutive eighth-place finish in the Premier League last term, but this time there was no FA Cup triumph to bail them out.
Arsenal spent a lot of money in the transfer market this summer, and getting all the newcomers to gel in with the rest of the squad in a satisfactory way obviously takes time and effort. Therefore, it’s not that bad that manager Mikel Arteta will now have more time than he’d have hoped for to work with the players in training, and keep his mind solely on the domestic competitions. The Premier League is, of course, of greatest importance and it is to be hoped that the team build on the first triumph of the season which came on the back of three defeats in succession.
Devising fresh tactics and getting everybody on board with them, as well as working on fitness, should shorten the time needed for cohesion to be achieved at a decent level. Further more, Arsenal will obviously play significantly less matches this term, which should make the players far less likely to pick up needless injuries. Arteta will certainly be looking forward to all that.
On the other hand, Arsenal’s omission from Europe presents a financial problem. For example, according to Charles Watts of Goal.com, the club brought in £34 million from the 2018-19 campaign in the Europa League by reaching the final, while Liverpool (£98m), Tottenham Hotspur (£92m), Manchester City and Manchester United (£82m apiece) earned a lot more through their exploits in the Champions League. Playing in UEFA’s second-string competition obviously doesn’t make too much of a difference in that aspect, but waiving any additional income at this stage could come back to haunt the club in time.
Arsenal’s failure to qualify for Europe has even bigger implication when it comes to the club’s reputation, mirrored in the willingness of players from all over to make the move to the Emirates. This summer has shown that all is not lost just yet on that front, but if, by some ill chance, the situation repeats itself at the end of this season, the prospect will likely turn very black indeed.
Finishing inside top four may seem a bit too ambitious at this point given the strength of the clubs who did it last term, but Arsenal simply must be able to edge out the likes of Spurs or Leicester City for the Europa League places. Arteta’s job may well depend on it.