Do You Want Arsenal To Finish 7th? by Dan Smith
It’s taken a crazy sequence of results from those around us, but Arsenal might just make it 26 consecutive seasons in Europe after all. Even though our fate is not in our own hands on the Final day, we seem to have the kinder fixture.
If we beat Brighton, Spurs will have to win at Leicester or Everton will have to win at Man City to stop us finishing 7th.
Yes, we have fallen so far that we are relying on results elsewhere to sneak into 7th, which qualifies us for the inaugural Conference League.
You know how the likes of AFTV hounded out the greatest manager in our history because he ‘only’ finished top 4, well we are struggling to even participate in what essentially will be UEFA’s third tier.
I have heard many gooners (and fans from other clubs) who would rather not be in Europe at all then be in a competition where you’re on the Titanic but very much the last priority.
The Europa League itself has often been labelled a Mickey Mouse Cup in comparison to the Champions League. Well if the Europa is Mickey Mouse, then the Conference is Goofy.
The whole concept of the tournament is more exposure for associations of the smaller nations who traditionally struggle to win their Europa League play offs.
The idea is that this way European Governing bodies can extend their European adventure (and revenue) beyond July – August.
In other words it wasn’t designed for the likes of the Gunners.
We would be one of the massive favourites to win it and because it’s the debut of the format, we wouldn’t know should we celebrate, count it as silverware, or not?
When you could lift a trophy and that provokes banter, you know you’re in a pickle.
Let’s clarify though, if that’s your reason why you don’t want us involved, people will be laughing at us just as much if we start the next campaign in round 2 of the Carabao Cup.
In fact we have been a joke club for years and deserve all the mockery we get.
If Man United were in our situation we would kick them while they were down as well.
I thought it was worth asking the question again to our supporters because it’s easy to dismiss something when it seemed like it wasn’t going to happen.
So what do you really want this weekend? If it’s the 90th min at the Emirates and you hear it’s 0-0 at the King Power and the Etihad and we get a last second penalty to get three points, what do you deep down want to happen?
My own stance is to find any solution you have to accept you have a problem.
Long term readers will know I feel we have gone backwards and will never win the Premiership under Stan Kroenke. So this theory that 8th/9th could be a blessing in disguise because it might force our owner to invest in just that …. a theory.
The American hasn’t cared in nearly two decades so isn’t going to start now. He’s a Billionaire who owns two of the top 38 most valuable sports teams in the world. Trust me he has zero reason to invest and if he did, it would be in the Rams not us.
So without a massive transfer kitty that rules us out challenging for the top 4 next year.
This group of players would find it easier to win the Europa then finish in the top 4. Now that’s not an option, it kind of sets us back a couple of years.
Could you be confident our current squad will comfortably finish in the top 5 next season? No!
So, where we used to have to win the Europa as our most realistic route to return to the Champions League, we now need to win the Conference as our most realistic way to return to the Europa.
Depressing but true.
That’s why if we finish 7th, we should embrace where we are, don’t care about the laughter from outside and look after ourselves. If being in the Conference speeds up any rebuild then I’ll take it.
There’s no point thinking not being in will speed our recovery up just because we are called Arsenal. Take away our history, the reputation and the badge, we are at this level because that’s how good we are.
The table doesn’t lie.
Most fans against the Super League wanted to protect the pyramid of Football. Well you can’t pick and choose. The pyramid system in England says 7th means the Conference League.
A Lot of fans I have noticed think these players are a lot better than they are, predicting title challenges and over hyping our youngsters.
We haven’t got a divine right to be on the head table of European competition, and maybe this will help humble some.
Plus if the new norm is competing between 6th – 10th, I’d rather the bonus of us winning something?
There is also a myth that I need to clear up.
No extra European spot has been added to help out the greedy Premiership.
The Conference League was going to be the reward to the League Cup Winners, but they happen to be Man City who obviously will be in the CL. So in most circumstances 7th wouldn’t be enough.
In fact 6th wouldn’t be enough for Europe if the FA Cup Winners hadn’t equally already ensured European qualification. 1st to 5th are the only positions in the table which guarantee European involvement. 6th and/or 7th only become valid depending on who wins the domestic cups.
That’s nothing new.
If you remember 12 months ago Wolves finished 7th and would have been in the Europa if we hadn’t won, the FA Cup. 7th that year (and any other year) would mean a place in Europa.
It’s the same principle, just UEFA have changed the layout, largely based on them wanting to reduce how many clubs are in the Europa.
If 7th meant the Europa League and not the Conference, I wonder if morals would be different?
The criteria though stayed the same. Once you get to the run in, you know what means what. Last season we knew 7th would keep us in Europe. This season, exactly the same, UEFA just happened to shake things up.
How would you have felt if you won the League Cup and were placed in the Conference when any other time that was good enough for the Europa?
To be fair to UEFA, they want their new baby to be a success so need some credible teams. In theory they have simply made it harder to qualify for the Europa League which should be the way.
If you’re lucky enough for 7th in your division to get into Europe based on who’s won the cups, then you can’t complain.
I do think there’s a high chance we will finish 7th.
Spurs were terrible at home to Villa, and I can’t see them believing they can win at Leicester.
Everton are harder to judge because they mostly seem to choke when the pressure is on.
A week before Istanbul, the Champions will surely rest talent, not that their second string is too bad. Pep’s men do seem to have lost focus since getting to the CL Final though.
Of course, it would be very Arsenal-like to slip up to Brighton. In fact, it would sum up our season.
If we do finish 7th and you’re feeling a bit down about the Conference League, here’s some comfort. If we finish 7th, it means we will be above Spurs.
Which means even when we are at our most rubbish, they are still in our shadow.
Of course that works both ways.
Do you want us to finish 7th, or would you rather not be in Europe at all?
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