Make no mistake, Arsenal must end the season in style and hope they can get in via the back door of the FA Cup Final.
Their odds for FA Cup glory are priced at 12/5. That tells you all you need to know about the Gunners’ chances of featuring in Europe next term.
The FA Cup is traditionally a huge betting market both in and outside of the UK, especially in Australia where placing wagers with Aussie-proven betting sites continues to grow.
And while that price might tempt a few, here we look at another big reason Arsenal need to defy the odds as the campaign draws to a close.
If there is one thing this season has shown, it’s how vital even a Europa League campaign can be for player development.
Youngsters benefited from Arsenal’s Europa League games
It may have ended in a disappointing defeat to Olympiacos in the last 32, but there was one big positive to take from this season’s Europa League clashes.
The amount of game time it afforded some of Arsenal’s top young players could well have laid the foundations for the improvements needed under Arteta moving forwards.
The manager will need his talented prospects to kick on again next season and quickly gel with any new arrivals as the club looks to get back on track.
Let’s take a look at the players that found game-time in the Europa League this season as a prime example.
The 19-year-old is sidelined with injury at present but he made seven Europa League starts for the Gunners. That’s one more than he managed in the Premier League.
It not only brought him three goals but also vital minutes that again suggested that he’s have a big role to play next season.
Saka, 18, has been a revelation this campaign, especially since football returned following the coronavirus disruptions.
Without doubt, his starts in the Europa League were a precursor to the trust now being shown in the versatile youngster. He got six important starts in Europe this season.
The 20-year-old made eight appearances in the Europa League and found the net on two occasions. While he is having to try and make his mark from the bench during the run-in, those early starts will only have helped his development.
Maitland-Niles chalked up six appearances in Europe this season. Those showing gave him more minutes and helped him settle during an important time as he was filling in for the injured Hector Bellerin.
It is not only youngsters that are benefiting from European game time
Europe also handed some of Arsenal’s squad players a chance to prepare themselves too.
Rob Holding, 24, made three starts in the Europa League – the same he has made in the Premier League this season.
However, perhaps the biggest benefit is the way goalkeeper Emil Martinez has stepped in in recent weeks.
The 27-year-old Argentine has done well since the injury to German Bernd Leno. Before having to fill that gap, he’d already made six important showings in the Gunners’ Euro campaign.
In summary, European football isn’t just about money and prestige, but also about an important learning curve for the next generation of Arsenal stars.
Yes, not making Europe will give Arteta more time on the training pitch, but it will also cut off a route to impress and develop for those keen to emulate Martinelli and Saka’s route into the first team picture.