I am not the worlds biggest fan of the Champions League. In fact, I have found over the years that my enthusiasm for the competition has waned to such an extent that I now find the competition boring, and find going to the mid-week clashes – especially the group stages – has now become a laborious task.
So it is over for one more year. Whilst I would love to win the competition, I would have loved to have gone got to Lisbon (My schedule would have then been Norwich, Wembley, Lisbon, Wembley, Magaluf) I am never to disappointed when it is over.
The Champions League is merely a cash cow, designed to make the richer clubs richer, to increase the gap in domestic leagues between those in the competition and those not in. Add in the additional revenue for sides through gate receipts and the Champions League can generate upwards of £50million to a side who merely makes the second round.
It is a competition regularly won by whichever club has spent the most money on developing the biggest squad (both in wages and transfer fees). In Arsenal’s history of the competition, we have never been in the top 8 of this, so us winning has always been fairly unlikely – with only Liverpool and Porto bucking this trend. Last night the Bayern side was a perfect example. An expensively assembled squad which had the likes of Thomas Muller on the bench, it is clear that Arsenal are still in the second tier of European sides, behind the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich – and the oil sides PSG, Chelsea and Man City, when it comes to what resources we have available. The cap however, is closing.
Without sounding defeatist, the best Arsenal can hope for in the Champions League is pocketing the cash and running. We will get a bit of a run if the draw is right. But as soon as we face one of those bigger sides who have a larger squad and better players, we are out. Barcelona, AC Milan and Bayern Munich have shown this.
So the run is over. The dream is over. Arsenal have pocketed £50million which will enable them to continue to increase the gap between them and fifth, whilst never really being a threat in the competition.
So we now move on to other business. Starting with Spurs away. No matter what is happening during a season, for a fan, Spurs away is the BIGGEST fixture. More will be written on this fixture over the next couple of days, and hopefully it ruffles as many furthers up the road as the lead up to the home ties did.
With Tottenham not due to play their European tie until Thursday against Benfica, Arsenal have a clear advantage. They would have flown back from Germany last night, spent the night in their own beds, before a nice easy training session today where the club can assess injuries. Hopefully Ozil was only taken off as a precaution. Hopefully Oxlade-Chamberlain did not run himself into the ground. Hopefully Ryo Miyaichi was not detained at customs for being ineligible.
A victory against Spurs will bury any ‘hurt’ that being knocked out of the Champions League has created, and will also keep us in the title race.
Had you given me 4 points off top and in the FA Cup Semi Final in mid-March at the beginning of the season, I would have taken it. We have plenty to still look forward to this season. Back the boys.