Every team wants to be playing Champions League football. If they try and claim that they don’t then they’re lying to themselves, because being able to compete amongst the best clubs from around the continent – and the world – should always be viewed as a privilege. Of course, the qualifiers allow for all different kinds of teams to edge their way through to the group stages and beyond, but here in England, it’s a little bit trickier to ensure that you get the chance to show what you’re made of in the competition.
The back story
Arsenal experienced that first hand last season when they struggled to break back into the top four, leaving them on the outside looking in for the second successive year. It ensured that they’d be playing Europa League football once again, and while that’s still a competition that we feel should be respected. Why? For one reason, it allows fans to travel around Europe watching their team which everyone should get the chance to experience. Secondly, it allows you to enter the Champions League if you aren’t able to do so courtesy of your league position.
For Arsenal, though, there’s a bigger question at play – what are they going to prioritise this season? They tried to go all the way in the Europa League last season only to fall short at the semi final mark, and you have to wonder whether or not they want to do that again. With Unai Emery they’ve got someone who is unbelievably experienced, but while their squad is arguably better than it was last season, we aren’t convinced they’ve got the strength in depth necessary to compete.
Which way to go?
Playing a mixture of first teamers and fringe players is the best way to go, right up until the latter stages of the knockouts. If they don’t get that far then they can just focus on the Premier League anyway, and let’s be honest, that’s what most fans choose to focus on.
Gunners fans have been patient in their pursuit of European silverware but it feels like it’s going to take some time before they’re able to achieve that, and that’s okay. We’ve continually argued that this is going to take some time (the process of rebuilding this squad), and we can’t expect too much too soon.
How far will Arsenal go in the Europa League?