Would Arsenal be better off with or without the UEFA Conference League?
If we look at the Premier League table, Arsenal strangely can still finish in the Europa League place by finishing sixth.
But it seems highly unlikely that they will leapfrog the likes of Everton, Tottenham and West Ham United, who all are above the Gunners, with a game in hand.
The most likely scenario for next season is no continental football at all in 25 years. But the prospect of finishing seventh and qualifying for the brand-new UEFA Conference League is also viable.
Overtaking their North London rivals Sp*rs to qualify for the tournament would make it even sweeter. Or will it..?
It is an open secret that Arsenal are set to go through massive changes this summer. They are looking at several players at a number of positions. Edu and Arteta would hope that the summer overhaul and better recruitment from there on, would put the club back among the higher echelons of England as well as Europe.
Even if they miss out on Europe altogether, it won’t be the end of the story. Chelsea missed out on Europe after finishing 10th in 2016.
Within, 12 months they lifted the Premier League title. Although they had a very talented squad, no European distraction certainly helped them immensely.
More recently, Everton and West Ham have dramatically improved their league position this season.
One of the major reasons for it is because they have not been involved in any continental football. Leicester City can also be thrown in the same ring, as the club has knocked at the Champions League door in the past two seasons. After bottling it last summer, they look destined to qualify for Europe’s elite competition this season.
Mikel Arteta might find it better to focus on only one match per week. More work on the training ground will rationally be better for their chance of finishing in the top four.
But there is always two sides to a story. The all-new European competition will feature teams even weaker than the teams that compete in the Europa League.
That might prove to be priceless in developing the young guns at the Emirates Stadium, who otherwise won’t get a look in, if the team plays one game per week.
Folarin Balogun and Miguel Azeez’s development and the new signings’ adaptation in the new squad might be facilitated by giving them minutes in the Conference League.
Thus, it feels like a win-win situation for Arsenal, whether they qualify for Europe’s third-tier competition or not.