To be honest, it’s not all that shocking of a take.
On their day, Arsenal can beat any team in the league. That is a fact. Take a look at our results over the last two seasons, and you’ll find we have done just that. But that’s the biggest issue with a top-four finish.
It’s not always our day. We performed exceptionally with Project Restart, especially towards the end, because most of the league was decided. As a result, most every game seemed more like a one-off than 1/38th of a season. And with Arsenal’s focus securely tied down in the FA Cup, we were able to triumph because we weren’t competing on multiple fronts.
We could guarantee that it would be our day.
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That’s the big advantage of the Europa League. Despite being a seriously annoying competition, it’s an opportunity to get into the Champions League, without placing in the top four, which to be honest, might be slightly out of the Gunners’ reach this season. Every day can, in fact, be our day, especially later in the year when it matters more and more.
Arsenal have started the league in flying form, getting maximum points in the Premier League and sitting in third place on goal difference alone. But it won’t take a genius to tell you that this won’t last. Games will be drawn and lost, because we’re not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. And between the top-flight and Europa League, it’s pretty easy to divine where Arsenal will likely lose more.
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The first thing to consider, in any competition, is the competition. Who will your team be facing, week-in-week-out. Arsenal have two of the top five teams in the world to compete with in Manchester City and Liverpool, along with a Chelsea side who have set the world alight this summer, and a Manchester United side who went 13 unbeaten to place in the top four last season.
That’s not to mention Leicester, Wolves, and Spurs likely filling out the top eight places, a newly rejuvenated Everton side looking impressive, and three or four more sides who could challenge Arsenal for points. It’s no secret that the Premier League is the best in the world, and Arsenal do not have the quality to be the best of the best. Yet.
In my preseason predictions, I claimed Mikel Arteta’s side would finish in fifth. I stand by that. But I, along with many of my compatriots, believe that the Europa League 20/21 will end with “Arsenal FC” etched in silver into the base. Because it’s our year to make Champions League.
But it won’t be through domestic competitions.
Now mind you, I would run around my room screaming if we made top four, but I don’t think it’s in the cards. And come November, than January, then March, those cards might be very different. But it’s Europe that I’m pinning my hopes on for this season. Let’s hope the boys can deliver.