So after last nights victory against Dinamo Zagreb, Arsenal have secured themselves a place in the knock out stages of the Europa League. The competition has split fans as to their opinion on it. Some see it as a chance to win a European trophy, others have such a dislike for it that they would rather we lost last night to ensure we did not qualify.
I have attempted to come up with a fear and reasonable argument FOR and AGAINST the competition. Let us know your opinion by voting at the end.
The Europa League is a horrible competition. Playing Thursday, Sunday, Thursday, Sunday to far flung places across Europe will not do our Premier League chances any good.
History has shown that sides playing in the Europa League struggle on their Sunday game. If you are playing in Eastern Europe on the Thursday, you will no get back until the early hours of Friday morning. It basically writes off any training on Friday. If you are then playing away on the Sunday, the players will get together on the Saturday. A lot of travelling, living in hotels, not much time for rest and recuperation.
Looking at the fixtures list, we would have Europa League games before the FA Cup 5th round, before Manchester United Away. The FA Cup QF & Everton Away. And Manchester City Away. Playing Thursday than Sunday before these fixtures will be a nightmare
The fact is, playing in the Europa League will damage our changes of winning the league.
From a personal point of view it is a nightmare as well. We already have too much meddling in our fixtures list. Early Saturday kick offs, late Sunday kick offs. It is a headache for the loyal travelling fan. The Europa League will only create further problems. The above fixtures will all be moved. As will Norwich at home. Less drinking, more train issues, and more Monday morning hangovers. It is not fun.
If we end up falling into the Europa League, we need to play the kids, and ensure we get knocked out at the earliest opportunity.
Imagine wanting Arsenal to lose? How crazy is that.
Yes, we would all prefer to stay in and win the Champions League, but in 17 years of trying, we only have 1 final to show for our efforts. In 2000, we ended up in the UEFA Cup (as it was then) and made the final. We should have won.
The Europa League is a more winnable competition. Chelsea a few years back dropped down into it and won it. Did their fans moan and complain that they had won another European trophy? No. The fact is, Arsenal do not have a great European pedigree – 2 cups to date – so who are we to turn our nose up at an opportunity to win a 3rd?
There is no difference between playing on a Thursday & Sunday compared to a Wednesday & Saturday. This should not be an issue. Especially for a club with a squad our size.
And the Europa League does not restart until the end of February. By then our league title chances could be over and we could be out of the FA Cup. Winning the Europa League could be our only chance of a trophy.
As for it damaging our chances of qualifying for next years Champions League, I would rather win a trophy than qualify for a European Tournament, and winning the Europa League gets you a place in the Champions League
The extra travelling is also a myth. Last year, Tottenham played Fiorentina in the knock out stages. The year before a trip to Ukraine and Portugal. When Fulham made the final, they played in Ukraine once, Italy and Germany (twice). In the Champions League knock outs, Arsenal could end up playing in Russia, Ukraine. There is no real difference.
And from a personal point of view, the Europa League would throw up a few trips that we as travelling fans have not done. We are all bored of going to Barcelona & Munich. As the groups stand, we could also end up with getting Manchester United, Manchester City or Chelsea. Add in that trip to Russia. There are no games that really excite.
Over in the Europa League, we could get trips to Norway, Switzerland, Austria, Prague & Belgrade. As a travelling fan they excite. Somewhere different. A city you have never been. A city you will never go to unless it is for football. There are clearly some cracking trips to be had.
If we get into the Europa League, we should go out to win it. And a final in Basel? Yes please.