Is the Europa League to blame for Arsenal’s poor form?

To say things are not going well at Arsenal at the moment would probably be the understatement of the year, with the club languishing in 14th place, having gained just 4 points from our last six games.

But in between those six games, our fringe players have played 4 games in the Europa League, winning all 4 and scoring 12 goals, while our Premier League team has managed just two goals in those 6 League games, one from a penalty and one from a corner.

Us simple Arsenal fans would have thought that the midweek wins would give us a boost in contrast to our miserable weekends, but Mikel Arteta thinks that the crowded fixture list is not helping at all.

Last week the trip to Molde took nearly 4 days to complete, and Arteta says this is hindering him working with his squad. He told Tribalfootball: “When we can train, that means that we have time, because we are playing every three days and that makes it really difficult to do that. We just try to improve this situation,”

“More than the situations we create or not is the final ball that we deliver when we are in this situation and the amount of times that we hit the target with the situations that we create, which is not enough.

“It’s down to me to find this solution, to put the players in the right positions and do it better.”

Another downside to the Europa League games is that the first team, who can’t score to save their lives, are seeing the backup players knocking in an average of 3 goals a game in midweek. This must also be a frustration for our first team, as well as the disruption to training.

Do you think we would be doing better in the League if we didn’t have the distraction of the Europa?

Admin Pat


      1. Interesting to see what you regard as a response PAT.


        For what its worth, I thought it a fair and important article to write, though it is clear that so far our Europa opponents have been well below our Prem opponents level. And to my mind that accounts for the difference in our Europa perfs.

  1. Arteta has been playing slightly stronger teams than he needs to at this stage of the EL, which will play some role with player fatigue, but I don’t really think Europe is to blame at the moment. If anything, EL is a nice distraction from our horrific league form!

    The club is still transitioning, Arteta is struggling at the moment, and it’s the worst Arsenal squad for around 35 years. Those are the main issues.

    1. Yes, he has put out stronger teams. Qualify quickly and then relax a bit? Fatigue and injuries have been blamed across the board by managers this season so perhaps the upcoming EL match will feature more youngsters and give the senior players a break. Just a thought

      It’s definitely been a distraction from the league 🙄

      1. It could have a bearing but i think that our style or lack of style and freedom in tactics, is the main reason for our league form. Arteta has made us a possession based team, that is obvious by the amount of negative play. I get frustrated the amount of times we are attacking and within seconds the ball is back in our own half and often back to the goalkeeper. The man at the top has to take responsibility for the way we are playing and our thought pattern. Negative thoughts produce negative results.

    2. I dont think they are slightly too strong. The Europa wins aren’t even as convincing as they should be. If he weakened them, honestly, we’d be dropping points.

      1. RSH some would argue by playing more “first teamers” he has weakened it. I think the youngsters have proved they are fine in the EL.

  2. I believe complete rest should be given to the first team on Thursday now that we have qualified for the next round, though I don’t think they deserve it. Based on performance, it is time Aubameyang is dropped to the bench. Why is Bellerin always isolated when we are defending? This shows structural deficiency in the way Arteta sets up the team. He does not get enough support from the wingers.

    The Molde trip had some role to play in our loss to Wolves. Wolves had a whole week to train. Arsenal trained on Mon, travelled on Tuesday, trained without the full team on Wednesday, played on Thursday, had a flight delay on Thursday and came back on Friday. That is a hectic schedule without doubt.
    My observation is that it is nearly impossible for a team playing in the Europa league to win the EPL. Mark my words and see what happens to Spurs eventually.

    1. I see no difference in playing Wednesday Saturday or Thursday Sunday. We all play European football, i dont get the European gripe from anyone. Lets not play European football at all by any team then if it is such a problem. We either play European football and live with it or not.

      1. European football in itself isn’t the problem as you say but I remember many on JA wishing we didn’t get it to then concentrate on the EPL. I don’t think our squad is nearly good enough to compete on both fronts.

        1. Sue P i accept what you are saying but especially in the EL, in the past we have relied on our young players to get us through the group quite easily. The fact we are struggling in the league now, i dont think has anything to do with EL football and our squad not being good enough. I personally think it is well capable of playing a squad in the EL and being able to do better than 14th in the league. The squad in my opinion is far better than we are getting from it.

          1. Will shake hands on it but disagree that it’s all down to Arteta. He has some responsibility but not all of it.

  3. Maybe, maybe not. As most teams in Europe are not underperforming in the league as frequently as us, it doesn’t seem the single most reason for us underperforming.

    1. No, just lost Ozil for good, thankfully! MA has lost some fake fans though! If the cap fits then wear it!

  4. If the El should have an effect on our performances it should have been a positive one for with early qualifications it gave MA the chance to rest 1st team players and give young ones some game time and experience the problem is that our manager hasn’t really given those whom have performed well in Europe a proper chance run in the Pl.

  5. No, I don’t buy it. We have a deep squad that every position is covered by at least two players. If anything, the first team should’ve been fresh and fully focused on PL. Also, what would teams that compete in Champions League say to that? With all respect, the teams we’ve faced so far are really weak in comparison.

  6. No. Europa players like Balogun and ESR should actually be getting more time. But instead we stick with Xhaka, and Ceballos and having a non-existant midfield. Arteta’s tactics aren’t working and havent worked all season. And he’s not making the necessary changes…

  7. We would do better playing the same team for PL and Europa League rather than chopping and changing every couple of days. There is a reason teams in Champions league do better, because they learn as a group. It is not a fitness issue either.

  8. Friends,

    The main problem at Arsenal (I have explained repeatedly) are related to the economic philosophy of the owners. Arsenal needs either new owners or a wake up call for the current ones.

    However, we also have to look at the other factors – and these are not mutually exclusive – or disconnected from the primary. Rather look at them as adding to the primary/a result of the primary:

    1. The Europa is a waste of time and a burn-out facilitator. Wenger was very adamant that it is tantamount to going to hell in the summer. Let us examine this philosophically. The reason you go to Europa is because you are being punished for not making top 4. You are second-best – even third. Then there is the mirage factor. You do well so you invest in a stronger team as you get sucked in. Then a team that dropped out of Champion’s league come at the end and beat you up. By then you are so damaged, as you now have to rebuild. Then there are those who do not realize that the most self-preserving thing to do is to drop out early and get your Board to rebuild with a one-off solid investment (Chelsea) so you do not return. The longer you chase winning it, is the longer you are likely to remain trapped. So this is what Wenger meant when he said it was a form of punishment.

    Try to avoid the punishment – not try to maximize it; or make the best of it while you are there. Now I know this sounds radical philosophy – but it has become a habit for Arsenal.

    2. Arsenal have been playing a lot of the top teams at the very start. Yes, this takes a toll on you – if your squad is thin (not in numbers but quality).

    3. Bamma is off form – he seems burnt from the COVID-affected schedule. Note that Rodgers slipped and reported recently that they do not let Vardy train too much as he said he was getting tired. Our Arteta does not get it yet. But I will not beat him up too much – it is about experience.

    4. In the midst of all these crises you have to resolve the Ozil issue. At least tell fans a better lie than the poor ones circulating. The players are divided about it and some have become confused about who to trust. If you say I am playing based on readiness or attitude or quality you have to stick to it. There are at least 4 players who cannot be justified above Ozil – even if you are a magician. The issue of Willian is most problematic in all of this.

    5. Arteta’s new tinkering preoccupation. My 10 year-old son just shouted out recently “what will he think of next Dad?” This was in response to the line-up for Villa.

  9. I cannot believe I am putting honesty over pride to state the following. They have:

    1. Deeper squad quality
    2. Better coach
    3. Played less of the top teams – only difference that does not bother me to report

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