The worst nightmare of every Arsenal fan came to life the past weekend – Arsenal failed to achieve the bare minimum, which is Champions League qualification. So despite the late surge of victories, the Gunners will now play in Europe’s secondary competition, the UEFA Europa League for the first time in the club’s history. So how should Arsenal approach playing in the minor league?
In my opinion, what it all boils down to is squad depth. If Arsenal have a squad that is deep enough to play three games almost every week, then it shouldn’t be a problem. However, the Gunners unfortunately do not have the deepest of squads and with Wenger making a statement that he will be looking to bring in just ‘one or two’ players this summer, it does not seem as though the club are looking to improve on that front either.
With squad depth obviously a problem and given our luck with injuries, the team will most certainly have to prioritise competitions next season. There can be no question that the Premier League is what is most important, as is the case every campaign. So with that being said, I believe that the Europa League should be sub-ordinate to our Premier League aspirations. I would approach the competition in the same manner as Wenger approaches the FA Cup.
Arsenal should play some youngsters and fringe players in the early parts of the competition and if the team make it to the quarter-finals, we can start taking the competition more seriously. Despite where Manchester United have reached in the Europa League this season, I believe that focusing on domestic football will give the club a better chance of swiftly climbing back into the Champions League places or even further.
From an optimistic point of view, failure to qualify for the Champions League enables Arsenal to focus completely on the Premier League, something the club has not been able to do in the past seasons. While it will be good if our youngsters and fringe players can get the team to a stage where the Europa league can be taken more seriously, it will not be the greatest disappointment even if they do not. Let’s focus on the Premier League and aim for the title!