Should Arsenal Aim to Qualify for Champions League through Europa League Win?

Might Unai Emery follow the path of Jose Mourinho back in 2017?

Should Arsenal Aim to Qualify for Champions League through Europa League Win?

Might all Emery's eggs end up in one basket? He certainly knows how to win this trophy

It is fair to say that Arsenal’s first season under new boss Unai Emery has gone better than many expected. The Spaniard came in with a huge rebuilding task on his hands and little money to spend in the transfer market, but has managed to keep the Gunners fighting on two fronts until the final stages of the campaign. The North London side could qualify for the Champions League next term via the Premier League or the Europa League. But with the top flight looking like a seriously tight affair, would it be wiser for Emery to put all his eggs in the European basket and go for glory?

Europa League Path
Whether Emery decides that the Europa League is his best shot at taking Arsenal into next season’s Champions League could depend on his next two Premier League fixtures. Defeat to both Spurs and Manchester United would seriously dent the Gunner’s chances of finishing above either at the end of the campaign. With Spurs recently dropping points with two defeats, the gap between third and sixth place has narrowed, and a win for Arsenal tomorrow would take them within a single point of their rivals.

There is history to the notion of prioritizing the Europa League over the Premier League in order to qualify for UEFA’s blue riband competition. When Jose Mourinho first took charge of Manchester United in the 2016-17 season, the Portuguese inherited a struggling team which was in need of a lot of rebuilding. He came to realize that his charges didn’t have enough to challenge in the league, so as the campaign neared its conclusion focused all his efforts on Europe. United ended up winning the Europa League that season with a 2-0 victory over Ajax and thus qualified for the Champions League the following term.

As of the 27thof February, Arsenal can be backed at odds of 5/1 with Betway Sports to win the Europa League this time out, with Chelsea being slight favourites at 4/1. The Gunners’ odds of making a top four finish in the league are shorter at 2/1, but United and Chelsea are both considered stronger contenders to seal that place in the bookies’ estimations. With an enticing-looking tie for Arsenal coming up against rank outsiders Rennes, there is a real chance that Emery’s side could go all the way in the tournament. But is this possibility enough to persuade the former Paris Saint-Germain manager to rest key players in the league to ensure they are fit and ready for European ties? This was the approach that Mourinho took, but it could be considered a huge gamble.

Squeaky Bum Time
The business end of the season is definitely going to be a nervy time for Arsenal supporters with so much riding on it. If qualification to the ultimate European competition is achieved this time out, it will enable Emery to attract better quality players in the summer. It will also help to get a lot of the disillusioned fans back on board. Regardless of the fact that Emery appears to be a highly capable manager who could do great things if given time, anything other than Champions League qualification will seem like a waste of a fairly promising campaign.

There is every indication that the home game against Manchester United will be pivotal in the club’s ambitions to make the top four. A win for Emery’s team would make amends for their FA Cup loss against the Red Devils. However, if they lose, fourth position could possibly be out of reach, and lead to the head coach throwing everything at the Europa League.

No fan wants to see their team weakened in one competition just so they may have a better chance at winning something else. But this could be what comes to fruition this term depending on the upcoming results in the league. Arsenal really cannot afford not to qualify for the Champions League for a third season running, and winning the Europa League could be the most viable path to doing that.

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  1. Bard

    Mar 01, 2019, 17:35 #113332

    Although I detest the Spuds I have never thought of them as in our league really. They had some success in 61' and I remember my Dad ( a Gooner to the core but a football man) taking me to the Lane to watch what he thought were one in a lifetime players like Johnny White, Mackay, Greaves, Blanchflower But apart from that window nothing for centuries so the rivalry is somewhat empty. They have never and will never be in our league whatever the result this weekend. I would expect several Spuds to be on the move at the end of the season as they wont win anything this season.

  2. itsRonagain2

    Mar 01, 2019, 17:12 #113331

    Having lived in Lancs, Leics, Gloucs, Worcs and Staffs in my time since leaving London in 1983 ive met no more than 3 people who claim to support Tottenham and 2 of them couldnt find WHL with a road map and a sat nav if they tried. Its a club with a parochial support base firmly based in its own sorry part of London, its always seemed to me. Awful fans and club.

  3. John F

    Mar 01, 2019, 15:19 #113330

    Does anyone enjoy games against the swamp dwellers.Being in my Fifties I thought I would grow out of this nervous feeling before we played them but I can feel it building up such is my dislike for them.The good thing is I am now 200miles away from the nearest Spud and if we do lose all I have to do is avoid radio 5 s Nihal in the afternoon who (claims not to have anything red in his house) to avoid any mention of the game.He did do a phone in about avoiding items that relate to your teams rivals.I used to refuse to drink Holstein lager in my local but my favorite was the Sheff Utd fan who used to scrub out every Wednesday on his calender and the Forest fan who refused to wear wool.

  4. John F

    Mar 01, 2019, 14:50 #113329

    As you say Leigh the game against Man Utd will decide what competition Dick prioritizes.If we do lose against the God forbids and Utd I would like to see Dic k play some of the younger players in the league to prepare for next season.There are some good teams left in the EL this season and I think it may be a bit too soon to be confident of winning it especially with our defence. In my mystic meg moment I tried to predict the final fixtures and had us as finishing fifth behind Chelsea by a point but having seen Utds performance s especially against Chelsea in the cup i think they may grab the fourth spot.