Joey Barton has stated that he believes Arsenal will miss out on Champions League football for the second time running this season.
The Gunners finished fifth last term, missing out on the top four by a single point to Liverpool, and after a disappointing window you would hardly say they will definitely make the Champions League places, but Barton is much the more critical.
The former Burnley midfielder, who is currently banned from playing due to a breach in betting rules, claims that the Europa League is generally a six-point burden, and that a tough season is ahead for the North-London side.
Joey said: “I don’t think they’re going to get into the Champions League spots this year, and they’ve got a Europa League campaign to contend with. Any side that’s in that, you usually reckon it’s worth a negative of six points with the travelling on a Thursday night and playing Thursday and Sunday.
“[Arsene] Wenger has created great teams down the years, but for him it’s a tough one. You saw the Liverpool result and everyone is saying he should have gone [at the end of last season] and his critics are back out of the woodwork, so he’s in a tough position and it’s not going to get any easier.
“Getting [Alexis] Sanchez back on the pitch is going to be vital for them, getting him happy and back playing because anything they’ve done well over the last couple of years has been through that man, so the transfer window closing and him still being an Arsenal player is a massive plus.
“[Danny] Welbeck being back is also a big plus, but their problems are the same problems, and that central defensive area will be their Achilles heel this season.
“They’re going to score goals but they’re not going to be able to keep the clean sheets to mount a title challenge.”
Will our defence leave us short of the top four? Will Alexis get back firing before it’s too late? Will the Europa League cost us a place in next term’s CL competition?