The possibility of Arsenal crawling their way back into a top four position seems to become slimmer and slimmer every day.
After a disappointing loss to Tottenham on Sunday, it seems as if the Gunners have reached an ultimatum, to win almost every remaining game in the season or accept a place in next year's Europa League.As any Arsenal fan will tell you, the former would naturally be preferred, but I'm here to argue that the latter wouldn't be as bad as all the hype has made it out to be.
One thing that's really troubled the Gunners all season is their lack of squad depth. This requires their top players having to start almost every fixture, a task that takes a heavy toll on their fitness. This can be demonstrated the amount of injuries suffered by Arsene Wenger's squad over the course of the season (Jack Wilshere, Bacary Sagna and Mikel Arteta to name a few). Playing so many games so close together in the Premier League, Champions League and both cups is very demanding on the starting 11 and forces Wenger to rotate some weak links into the squad.
Arsenal's expulsion from the League Cup and FA Cup in quick succession can be partially attributed to Wenger not being able to field a strong lineup in both these competitions due to injury and fitness issues. If Arsenal were to play in the Europa League next year, this would take some of the pressure off the starters and would allow the team to make some realistic cup runs.
My personal opinion is that, should Arsenal finish in 5th or 6th this year, they ought spend the summer strengthening the depth of their squad and ridding themselves of some loose ends (sorry Gervinho, Arshavin, etc). This would give them the opportunity to field a strong 11 in any competition and not have to worry about weak links on the pitch.
Another point is that, since the quality of the opponents in the Europa League is lesser than that of the Champions League,the north London side would be able to rest some of their stars in the early rounds and not risk giving them further injuries.
A final reason why I think a brief spell in the Europa League might not be a bad thing, is that Arsenal might actually stand a chance of winning it! Sure, it might be entertaining to see the Gunners go head-to-head with Europe's giants, but I'd rather watch them win a trophy than get trounced on by Barcelona or a Bayern Munich any day.
Let's face it: Arsenal fans want trophies! Even more, we crave them. And should the price for that long-sought silverware be missing out on the top four and being behind our local rivals for one season, then i'm all for it.
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