Is it too early in Arsenal’s project to play in the Champions League?

Why Arsenal could be better off without top 4 by Leo

As we Arsenal fans find ourselves at the culminating point of our season, it seems we are all rooting for one conclusion: Top 4 and champions league qualification. Whilst this would certainly define the season as a success in most fans’ eyes, is perhaps not wholly true. In this article I will explain why.

Firstly, let’s look at the ramifications of missing out on champions league football. It is without a doubt that losing out on top 4, above all to Spurs, would have certain disastrous consequences (being damaging to both our pride and our twitter mentions).

That aside, it would make signing quality players a whole lot harder; some of our supposed biggest targets such as Manchester City forward Gabriel Jesus or Juventus man Paulo Dybala would prove difficult to convince, possibly not wanting to drop down from their current standards.

But beyond this, it is predictable that a bottling at this stage would place extreme pressure on our controversial hierarchy and our perceivedly sometimes-genius, sometimes-fool manager Mikel Arteta. Whilst this would be somewhat deserved, especially in the case of the club’s owners, it would be a hindrance to the supportive atmosphere and relations that have been so well rebuilt this year. Looking solely at these factors, achieving top 4 seems to be a necessity.

However, no need to panic Gunners fans: all is not as precarious as it seems. The acquisition of champions league football next year could actually make affairs at the club worse. As it is, no fan nor person at the club would deny that we lack squad depth. Even with a few good transfers this summer the situation would not improve drastically. As we’ve seen this season, losing only a couple of key players like Kieran Tierney or Thomas Partey was close to ruining our season; it took a miraculous set of Mohammed Elneny performances to prevent an even greater slide of defeats after our triple loss to Palace, Brighton and Southampton. Imagine absences like this plus extra mid-week games. We simply could not stand it. It would threaten to derail not only the champions league campaign but also the Premier League one, creating a similar unrest to the one previously described were we not to qualify at all.

On the issue of transfers, I believe that either way, the progress we’ve shown this season could be enough to convince high quality players to sign and who knows; Arteta’s relationship with Gabriel Jesus from their time at City could come in handy…. Taking these factors into account, perhaps it would be wiser to wait another year for champions league football; perhaps we are moving too fast.

Another two summers of recruitment to strengthen our already solid foundations may be pivotal.

Who agrees?

Leo Friedman

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  1. It just doesn’t work like that!!!!!!!! Stand still and you go backwards. No CL and we are behind.

    1. Absolutely Reggie 👍 I don’t see how qualifying for Europa League over Champions League benefits the club. Wenger and Emery was hounded out for being unable to reach top 4- now some supporters think it’s for the best we miss out.. you couldn’t make this up.

      1. 👍👍 and Emery with a much smaller transfer budget (and team player valuation) has recently won the Europa League and made the semi fina of the Champions League with Villerreal. However many on here think Emery is no good as a manager/coach so there are no excuses for Arsenal under Arteta.

        1. This Emery who is just a cup specialist that y’all keep bringing up his name, where has he led VILLAREAL to in the league table, he is not even guarantee of the conference league next season with all his exploits in the champions league.

          What is the essence of playing in the champions league a season then the next you dont even qualify for any european competition and have all your top players picked apart by other big clubs. I dont rate him honestly, he is only good with his small spanish teams not a big institution away from spain.

    2. This discussion is somewhat removed from the realities.
      The fact is, if we get minimum 2 points in the remaining PL games, we are guaranteed at least Europa League. So in reality, we will either play Champoins League on Europa Leagu next season.
      For a number years Champions League for us was 8 games in total. Our recent 4 years in the Europa League has meant 14, 15, 8 and 14 games.
      So even, if we were to think only about thin squad, rest, travelling etc., Champions League actually provides the best solution.
      No reason for hesitation. Champoions League is best on all accounts!

      1. AndersS. I speak as a realist who still hopes and (narrowly , on balance) believes that we will make CL qual this season.

        But as your post suggests , the chances of us making meaningful progess in it, is slim to very slim indeed. There is a school of thought, which I again only narrowly reject, that believes we should build more slowly and start with EL qual.
        My main objection to this is that we would most likely have far more games to play, while still being too short of squad depth to win it.

        Either way we have problems, BUT we must have the courage to believe in ourselves, even if as realists, that seems over optimistic.

        So lets firmly support our chances of top four and face whatever that brings with the knowledge that we have a fine and fast improving young and determined manager who has made vast progress in cohesiveness in our dressing room.
        This fact is vastly underestimated in its critical present and future importance by those who maintain their anti MA agenda. I say they are mistaken and timid about our future.

        I AM NEITHER , though I recognise the difficulties we face. But I have confidence that in a REALISTIC time ahead, we will overcome them.

  2. The answer is an easy one,no it is not too early.just the financial side alone makes CL football worthwhile.not only would it help transfers wise but being involved in different competition would give MA the opportunity to give squad/young players some well needed game time.i was recently criticised for pointing out how big an advantage it was for us not to be playing European/domestic cups,well people can’t turn around and say that CL football would a hindrance when the league is concerned no??

  3. My word.

    I never see this article coming.
    This must have been the single biggest peice of crap written since Al Gore once said he invented the internet.

      1. Am sorry, I must apologize

        Was just a little frighten,
        It’s still in my system that champions league was a given right, back from the Wenger days

        1. Rember, what Wenger did wasn’t good enough so we throw him under the bus. I have very much respect for Wenger, but not so much respect for our so-called fan base 😉

          1. Wenger was excellent, perfect for Arsenal, just that he lost that hunger half way through his tenure.
            I love the Frenchman, wish he would come back

            Don’t think you will ever see me responding like that again.

            1. I don’t believe he lost that hunger, but he had too much loyalty to Arsenal. When Kroenke arrived Wenger lost his left hand David Dein. Lack of funds related to building our new stadium and FA’s multibillion media deals. Together with the new super rich club owners changed the competition completely, and we are still struggling with it.

              1. Didrik did you understand the selling of Van Persie to Man u, am still baffled to this day.

                Remember it was Wenger who brought this trouble kid, showed him love even through his many injuries, and sold him after getting the first injury free season from him.

                Alex showed a massive appetite at the time knowing all he needed was one season from this marquee striker and the rest is history.

                Wenger would not have done that in his first tenure, Ferguson would never sell us a marquee foward.

                Perfect example, our best player Sanchez going to Man u, Wenger pleaded for Alex to let the Frenchman Anthony Martial come to Arsenal after he was not getting much game time but Ferguson refuses.

                Arsene Wenger is truly a gentleman who’s is a dying breed in the modern game

                1. No, but according to van Persie it was his wish, he didn’t felt that Arsenal had ambitions.

                  It was thank you Arsenal for making him fit to play 30+ games a year. They wasn’t able to keep him fit a long time at ManUnited, but he won the league for them with 26 league goals in the 2012/2013 season. The year after did he only make 12 goals and was struggling with injuries. When van Gaal decided to sell him he contacted Wenger and asked if he could return, but Wenger said no. Not many know this, a good decision by Wenger.

                  Alexis was about signing a new Arsenal contract, but ManUnited offered him a much better contract. He was under pressure from his agent and accepted their offer. In retrospect it seems like a greedy agent must take the blame. Sanchez never looked happy in ManUnited, but seems to enjoy his life in Italy.

                  I agree with you, seems like our club was solely focusing on our financial situation. I still don’t understand how Wenger was able to keep us top four 😍

                  I went to the Merci Wenger game against Burnley in 2018, just to show my respect for this remarkable man. I will never forget it 🔴⚪️

                  1. Thank you Didrik.

                    Delighted to know you attended that merci Wenger game, wish I could.
                    Never knew Van actually wanted to return,
                    Sanchez situation was strange.
                    Appreciate information shared 👍

    1. Although Al Gore never claimed to have invented the Internet, he did discuss his role in Internet development in an interview with Wolf Blitzer of Cable News Network. The interview took place on March 9, 1999 during CNN’s “Late Edition” show. Specifically, what Gore said was “I took the initiative in creating the Internet.”

      A cynic might observe that “creating the Internet” and “inventing the Internet” are tantamount to the same exaggeration!😉

      1. Thanks Siamois, did remember the interview though not in its entirety.
        I like the guy though.

        But what did he meant by taking the initiative in creating internet?

          1. Absolutely, definitely and positively not .

            A fan once wrote on this very thread not so long ago, that the gaffer is very dangerous for Arsenal, his reason is , Arteta is very clever and hungry.

            The writer went on to say that’s a very dangerous combination to have, that exact word (cynic) came to my mind about the writer as I was trying to analyze his statements.

            But while I do agree with the writer about the hunger and cleverness a do think the gaffer is also humble

  4. Nice reading Leo, from my point of view it’s too early.

    But It’s probably better to play Tuesday and Wednesday than Thursday night in UEL. Now we are in position to play in Europe by becoming top six. I do prefer top four for the prestige, money and all the other competitions next season.

  5. Got bad one coming from bronklyn asking would i ever live in new york but i told her i need a crib in the same road as abramovich.

  6. What is this ? You come of as an Arteta out someone . We are going to the UCL with Arteta , deal with it .
    There are still cheaper and very efficient players out there that Arsenal can buy, the recruitment office just needs to look harder. We honestly do not need dybala.
    The plus we get for playing in the UCL far outweighs the supposed negatives you’re trying to sell to us.

  7. I agree that we are moving “too” fast. Yes, but we are also working very hard. Edu and Mike are working hard to get Arsenal FC two first teams if we were to be in the Champions league.
    Have you forgotten that all the young players are also very ambitious to play in the CL and if you don’t qualify you also risk losing some of them to CL Clubs?
    You are forgetting the financial rewards that a club acrues for itself playing in the CL. Once a team is financially strong, it can acquire and retain world class players . So, while Edu and Arteta are doing their best to reinforce all the departments, especially the attack and midfield, our players should continue pursuing a 3rd place on the Premier League , after the 4 remaining games.

  8. Yes we are a million miles away from challenging for champions league but would still take being in it all day long!

  9. The only reason I can see for us thriving for a CL spot is financial windfall. We don’t have the squad depth, talent or managerial nous to make a serious run in the competition.
    That been said, while we strengthen it would be fitting to do our best to rack up some league silverware and team confidence along the way…IJS

  10. It is not that simple to say we “need” European football. The reason we avoided a 3rd x 8th place in a row and got top 4 could well be because we had no European football. Everyone else in the top 7 had a European campaign. What European football generally means is we have to spend an extra 100 mill every season on more expensive players and higher salaries. Next season we could have 10/12 more mid week games than we had this season.. Utd will be much better under Ten Hag, Spurs under Conte will also be better while Suadi Utd, Palace, Villa and Wolves will have no European football. If the expectation is 4th and we get 5th the club will sack Arteta. Then we have to start all over again. What are reasonable expectations?

    1. I don’t believe that Arsenal will sack Arteta if we manage top six. From my point of view it’s better to become top four and play CL football Thursday night, than Tuesday and Wednesday’s in UEL.

    2. @Fairfan many never gave us the chance to make CL even when they know we dnt have European games all season.
      Everybody will be better and some will still fall short of expectations it does not matter how many money they spend in the transfer market.
      All the Conte, ten hang everybody is giving the trophy to will fall people’s hand seriously

  11. Well, either way, we’re going be playing in Europe which will require similar exertion so it might as well be earning the big bucks and testing ourselves at the highest level.

    Plus it will absolutely force further investment in the squad and do something else the writer failed to mention. Enhance the likelihood of our keeping top talent like Saka and the Gabriels from jumping ship.

  12. Totally agree leo. We need more and 2-4 top end players, as at times we were bullied.

  13. We want Champions League football!!!
    We can still make 3rd or 4th with UCL games in midweek, we just need to expand our squad and improve on our fitness regimes. Maybe we need to change some people.

  14. Remember if UCL qualification is too soon, we will be found out and drop into Europa League anyway.

  15. Do we need CL?
    Well, if we use the same criteria that some fans used when we actually participated in it, then the answer must be NO.
    That’s because we, allegedly, suffered humiliating defeats season after season and only qualified 15 times for the Q/Finals…. so what’s the point?

    Same as finishing as high up the PL table as possible, if we’re not challenging for the title, then what’s the point?

    Of course, as a realist who looks at it from a supporters point of view, the answer must be YES.

    The prestige, the financial gains, the attraction to players and not playing on a Thursday / Sunday from a fans perspective.

    If we just qualify, that will take care of the reported £8,000,000 salary MA is about to be offered.

    Of course, season ticket and other ticket prices will go up, but for some that won’t make any difference whatsoever!!!

    Give me top four and CL football for the next two decades and I will be a happy supporter… and I won’t blame Mikel if he cannot be competitive with the likes of RM, Barca, City, Chelsea, Newcastle, PSG etc – just get us back where we belong!!!!

    1. I suppose what your saying Ken is “ Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good” which I understand 🤔👍

    2. 8.7 mil Ken
      Imagine that for a manager who seems to have taken us to new depths we haven’t seen in 25 years,good money if you can get it by the looks of things .

      1. Dan, do you know how much Emery gets paid by Villarreal for a Europa League win and reaching the semi final of the Champios League?

  16. I can’t imagine any fan on the planet not wanting to be in the champions league! So it would be better to play Europa League while that lot enjoy themselves with Europe’s elite 😑 I’m sorry i don’t agree with this at all you don’t spend 350 million to play Europa League football- Thursday – Sunday all over again, this would not help the team at all, in fact we’d probably be struggling to reach top 6 again.

  17. Mr Leo do you watch the Champions League?
    How do you feel just listening to the theme song?
    Dnt you want to hear it sound out at the Emirates?
    Having the Club shirt with the champion League crest on the Arm?
    IN as much you fear we may be run over if we qualify for it, you may be surprised that some big teams in Europe will be having special training just to stop Saka, Odegaard, Marthinelly, Smith Rowe and whoever we get for the CF( imagine that Been Haaland, Victor Osimeh, Nunez, Jesus,).
    Missing out can create a doubting mind in the head of all the young players and we become a laughing stock by all the celebration police who has been attacking us all season.

    1. Excellent post Seroti 👍 and also we already play the best 2 teams in Europe twice every season in Liverpool and Man city so we have nothing to fear.

  18. As a young and loosely put together team. Arsenal have done well to make the small inroads as they have. From a team that pretty much there for the taking by anyone on there worst day. To a team that is slowly knitting together and are able to put together some convincing performances and…. learning the hard way to win football matches. Signs of the soft underbelly might still be visible but we’re not the powder puffs we we’re once taken for.

    I am enjoying the upturn of our fortunes but most importantly enjoying them for the earnest efforts the majority of players. Many of those players have been much maligned some deservedly so and I would like to think that much of us…… me included that we’re doing the maligning, were doing so out of frustration as opposed to a particular disregard or dislike for the player on the receiving end of our criticisms.

    But the point is that we’re making marginal but steady progress and I think a good compromise to the suggestion from the writer of this article is that. Should we make that fourth spot ours this season. We use it wisely and we enjoy the demands of champions league football.

    We are only just getting to grips with our own domestic football and going into a major European competition and not faring well could, have a damaging and psychological effect on the players (and fans). But, if we embrace it and apply the same efforts as we do domestically and look to excel in every match then who knows how far we’ll get ! But, as it’ll be our first foray into European football for some time, we could also use the opportunity as a sort of staging ground for the oncoming campaigns. Don’t relent in our efforts and performances but at the same time, don’t put ourselves under pressure as though we have a point to prove to anybody. We are still a club with limitations, a team that’s still finding it’s feet and undergoing change. We still have a young but thin squad/team and don’t want to damage any progress we’ve made by putting unecessary pressure on ourselves by reaching beyond our grasp.

    We’ve done well to get where we are at this stage of the season (although there’s still a bit to do) and we know the footballing media and the punditry world are going to have their knives sharpened to slice bits off us should we stumble. This could have a detrimental, psychological effect on the team and we could once again become introverted.

    We should use the opportunity when it arrives to enjoy playing European football again. Enjoy the financial injection it brings amd get back to understanding the competition and it’s demands. Just as it is domestically. There’ll be a lot of European teams that will see us as whipping boys but I think on our day, a lot of them we can brush aside. And, just as domestically, there’ll be some quality opposition at the top end of the competition. But again, we don’t have to puff out our chests just yet. Let’s take the time and opportunity to get back to some semblance of an Arsenal in its pomp and just enjoy the moment and where it leads us !

    1. Agree LtDan.
      We must grab this opportunity with both hands despite knowing the knife’s are never far away,

  19. Interesting take Leo. I’ve asked the same question and have settled on an answer that works for me. Yes, I want top four (especially if it comes at the expense of the Spurs who then might struggle to keep hold of Kane) but we need to continue to be patient.

    I don’t want a rush of CL blood to go to Arteta/Edu’s head and have it mess up their longer term plan. Meaning I don’t want any big name ageing stars interfering with what is being slowly built.

    For the next few years, PL needs to be prioritised even if we take some lumps in CL.

    1. who is to say next season we perform as well with europa instead of ucl. You’re taking for granted that these things only work in an upward trend. If we have the chance to play in UCL you take it. If Arteta/Edu make bad transfer decisions thats down to them.

  20. LEO, a good try but I’ll give you this famous Shakespeare quote that gives the lie to your timid question.
    It is from Julius Caesar(actually Brutus) and it says this: “There is a tide in the affairs of men that when taken at the flood, leads on to fortune”.

    Which, broadly, means take your opportunity THE MOMENT it arrives , as it may never come again.

    Old SHAKEY knew a thing or two about human nature and I fancy a good bit more than you seem to do.

    In any case your question is entirely academic, as if we finish fourth we have no realistic choice other than to play in thE CL.


  21. Have you not waited enough? All we need to do is bring in 2 -3 quality players then, bring back some of our good loanee players. With good coaching and man management,our players will hold their own in CL. Don’t make CL look as if only angels performs at that stage. We should do all we can to get it this year. Nobody knows what will happen next season. There is no guarantee that players such Saka, ESR, Martinelli even Gabriel are going to stay after next season.

  22. I know of a n English adage which says “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch”

  23. I dont agree with the article. We make it to the CL on the merit of the players bringing CL football to Arsenal, so they have the quality and the grit to play CL football. Morever we will make quality additions in the summer which will help us compete with the best in Europe.

  24. crazy to suggest. Absolutely not. Let’s ask the players if they think this and they would laugh. They have been fighting all season TO PLAY in this competition.

  25. The answer to the question is no? It is not too early. What is needed is to take the opportunities when they come and make the best of them.
    Arsenal should not having an inferiority complex about being in the CL.

  26. The squad is too thin to compete in Europe and do well in the PL, we still need good squad players to back up our first eleven, and we still need another season before we can really compete. The over haul takes time, this is the legacy that Wenger left

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