The Europa League has been Arsenal’s only qualification method for next season’s Champions League for a while now, it feels like it became obvious a lot sooner than it did for Manchester United last season.
Arsenal are thirteen points behind Tottenham, who are fourth, the Gunners face an impossible task in the league and they don’t even have a chance of winning the FA Cup this year, a competition they have many a time used to cover the cracks.
Arsene Wenger started Arsenal’s European campaign by fielding a weaker team in the group stages, almost a C team on occasion.
I got the feeling Arsene had very little interest in winning the Europa League and he gave the ‘kids’ numerous chances to show themselves in front of the many thousands at the Emirates etc. I’m sure the youngsters loved the experience, but Wenger could not continue with that approach and expect to outright win the competition.
Doubts also come from the teams that dropped from the Champions League being arguably much stronger than that of last season Europa League, that Man Utd won.
Teams like Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Napoli and RB Leipzig just four teams, all stronger than most of the teams United came across in their successful campaign. However, Dortmund and Napoli are out and Arsenal are yet to cross paths with the other two.
WHY ARE ARSENAL’S CHANCES STRONGER NOW?
The North London based club’s chances are obviously mathematically greater now that they’ve reached the quarter-final and especially with one foot in the semis.
Two of those four ‘stronger’ teams mentioned in the previous section are out of the competition. Most importantly it’s the fact that Arsene Wenger is taking it seriously!
The French manager has been fielding stronger line-ups in this competition and took the scalp of ex-great club AC Milan in the last round.
WHO CAN STOP THEM?
After last night’s results, it’s safe to assume Atletico Madrid are heading into the last four and they are undoubtedly the team most likely to overcome Arsenal. Diego Simeone has that know-how for important European games, twice a runner-up in the Champions League and winning this competition with Atletico in 2012.
I’ve been watching RB Leipzig in the previous rounds and they have some talented players and are by no means going to be pushed aside easily. Their opponents Marseille (only 1-0 down going into the second leg) also hold a threat, especially with the final being held in France for added motivation.
I think Arsenal are more than capable of beating the rest of the teams, it will be very interesting to see the conclusion of the Europa League and whether Wenger can bow out (if he leaves) with the dignity of having got Arsenal back into Europe’s elite competition.
Written by Jordan Hackett
Follow Jordan on Twitter @Devildart180
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