Arsenal now have the record for qualifying for the group stages of the Champions League, in 16 consecutive years. This is one of the many facts - along with their unbeaten season - that most pundits and football fans forget when they criticise Arsenal, but could this be the year where all that changes?

Arsenal fans were disheartened, on August 29, when they found that they would be joined in the group stages this year by Marseille, Napoli and last year's finalists, Borussia Dortmund. It is this last team that will particularly spark fear and doubt amongst Arsenal supporters, mainly due to the quality of Robert Lewandoski, Ilkay Gundagon and Marco Reus.

This leads to the debate to whether Arsenal possess the quality to make it past the group stage this year. The main fight for 1st and 2nd will be between Napoli, Dortmund and Arsenal, but there are only two places available and three teams going for it.

As noticed in the controversial win at Sunderland, Arsenal have gained new strengths, in the form of Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey.

However, the old defensive frailties have reappeared, with Per Mertesacker's lack of any speed, and Laurent Koscielny's rash, and frankly dangerous, sliding tackles.

Efficient teams such as Napoli - who possess Gonzalo Higuain - and Dortmund - with the genius that is Lewandoski - could capitalise on the Gunners' weakness at the back.

Being an Arsenal fan myself, I will be optimistic that we can get through, but if I'm realistic, I think it is a big ask, not just because of the strength of the opposition, but also the weaknesses due to Arsenal's small squad.

But, would dropping into the Europa League be such a bad thing? I took great pleasure in teasing my teacher (a Spurs fan) about watching them on a Thursday night on channel 5, though I'm now regretting this slightly.

If Arsenal do find themselves going against less opposition, the chance of winning a trophy will increase.

For most people the Europa League is like the Capital One Cup compared to the FA Cup, but at the end of the day a trophy is a trophy, and the other bonus is Arsenal's five-inch dust in their cabinet will be cleared by the elaborate trophy.

It's going to be very interesting to see what happens over the next few months.

Write for GiveMeSport! Sign-up to the GMS Writing Academy here: http://gms.to/130seMa

DISCLAIMER: This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

Topics:
#UEFA Champions League
#Europa League
#Arsenal
Flag article