Would A Europa League Trophy Really Save Arsenal?

As Arsenal approach this end of one season and the start of another in 2021, it’s fair to say there hasn’t been a huge amount to celebrate.

Since their surprising success in the Community Shield over a weakened Liverpool side, the wins have been few and far between.

Arsenal has been a mixed bag for several years now, onboarding several ‘decent’ players – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Thomas Partey, Gabriel Magalhaes- and then signing several players who raised more questions than answers before they even kicked a ball.

For example, Willian recorded two assists in the first game of the season – only to disappear for the next 8 months.

Hotly-anticipated William Saliba was shipped back to France on loan, leaving fans scratching their heads, rather than raising their fists in triumph. 

They’re a club that almost makes sense a lot of the time, almost finding the right squad balance.

But almost tasting the victories of years past has been Arsenal’s bread and butter for a long time now.  Mikel Arteta had a lot to fix.

One thing, in particular, was breaking back into the top four.

The other was a bugbear that has existed for far longer – finally finding European success.

But would Arsenal even be able to achieve a victory like that?

Would it really change anything? It’s a question that is still difficult to answer. 

Europa League Trophy Arsenal
Source: Unsplash

Recent Memory

The Europa League final in 2018 against Chelsea was one of Unai Emery’s final acts as Arsenal manager.

A tactician to a fault in some people’s eyes, he brought a team to the Baku stadium that seemed tired and out of ideas.

Early substitutions and reactive tactical changes resulted in a confused performance that Chelsea made the most out of.

Seeing recent Arsenal departure, Olivier Giroud, smash home the final of four goals Chelsea scored that evening was perhaps the sharpest barb in Arsenal fans’ hearts.

After that, it’s been back to obscurity.

Before that, Arsenal’s closest brush with Europe’s greatest achievement – a Champions League trophy – was back in 2006, in a 2-1 loss to Barcelona.

That game can hardly be called recent memory, but it’s a reflection of just how far the Gunners have fallen since that golden era. Looking to this year, they at least have got to a semi-final, although whether they proceed to go any further rests on favorable odds outside of their immediate control.

Arteta is trying to instill a new philosophy in a side that has underperformed for some time.

They’ve battled to stay afloat – but for how much longer can they sustain it?  

Europa League Trophy Arsenal
Source: Unsplash

Good Enough?

The Europa League trophy is a question of quality in two senses.

Firstly, is the team actually good enough to win it?

Many would have said yes back in 2018 in Baku. In 2021, could they win again? It’s fair to say, potentially, yes they could.

If they faced a team like Manchester United, beating them wouldn’t be unheard of.

They’ve done it before, during the past season.

When Arsenal’s best players show up, when captain Aubameyang is in form and teenager Bukayo Saka is creating from the wings, they can quite clearly punch at the heaviest weights.

A lot like their North London neighbors, Tottenham, Arsenal can surprise you depending on the day you catch them.

As things stand, Arsenal has a middling chance of winning the trophy outright – about 10/3 – according to the latest William Hill football betting odds.

Of the four left, only Roma is less likely to win, having been annihilated by Manchester United in the first leg of their tie.

Arsenal can be good enough, but it’s entirely up to the team if they want to be on the day.

Then you’ve got the second dimension to consider. Winning the Europa League would be a huge vindication for Arteta, a break away from years of no European success.

It would also hand Arsenal with a ticket back into the Champions League, a competition they haven’t been in since 2016.

The reality is that it’s financially beneficial to be in the upper echelons of European football.

However, they’re lingering in the middle of the Premier league table this season.

Next season is showing no signs of being any different.

Is the Champions League really what they need?

Would a break from European football to focus on their domestic league not be more helpful in the long term? 

Arsenal was humiliated by Bayern Munich in the last 16 in 2016, by 10-2 on aggregate.

A season in the Champions League requires good squad depth to handle both weekend fixtures and mid-week games against Europe’s best sides.

Arsenal faced the likes of Dundalk this year in the group stages of the Europa League.

They’d be facing far bigger sides if they stepped up.

Worry over whether they would struggle in the Premier League as a result of these grueling fixtures has to be considered.

SEE ALSO | Chukwueze’s Villarreal To Face Man Utd In Europa League Final

After so long in the wilderness, trying to find a post-Arsene Wenger identity, has anyone asked if Arsenal is actually ready to leave it?        

This article was most recently revised and updated 2 years ago

No posts to display


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here