Arsenal have a genuine chance of winning the Europa League – as long as we follow Manchester United’s lead from last year and start to take the competition serious.
With the likes of Atletico Madrid, Napoli and Borussia Dortmund dropping into the competition, Arsenal have shifted from favourites to 2nd favourites, but the reality is, whoever wins the competition tends to be whoever takes it the most serious.
Last season, Manchester United were sitting in 6th place, out of the title race and a long way from Top 4. The Europa League represented both an opportunity to qualify for the Champions League and a chance to win a trophy.
The first would satisfy the money men, whilst the second would satisfy for the fans.
Personally, I do not care that you qualify for the Champions League if you win the Europa League. What is more important is the silverware.
Te situation Arsenal find themselves in is a little different from Manchester United, in terms of we are a lot closer to a top 4 position in the Premier League than they were 12 months ago. This might make Arsene Wenger prioritise the league over the Europa League, but this would be a mistake.
I would rather we win the League Cup than finish top 4. A visit to Lyon in May 2018 should be the priority for Arsenal.
Arsenal’s last European success was way back in 1994. Did anyone really care that we finished 4th that season? I imagine most can not remember where we finished.
The year before, Arsenal won the domestic cup double. They finished 10th. 1995 saw a 5th placed finish, but saw us make a second European final in as many years. 1995 was not a great memory.
My point is, if you are winning things, or making finals, league position does not really matter – unless you also win the league.
We need to get away from the Sky brainwashing that the Premier League and Champions League is all that matters. It is not.
I want us to win the Europa League.
The draw is about to take place, so how does it work?
- There will be two pots of clubs for the round of 32 draw: the 12 group winners and the four best third-ranked teams in the Champions League group stage are seeded.
- The group winners and four best third-placed teams in the Champions League will be drawn against the 12 group runners-up and the remaining third-placed Champions League sides.
- The seeded teams will be at home in the second leg.
- No team can play a club from their Europa League group or a side from the same country. Additionally, teams from Russia and Ukraine cannot be drawn together.
- Games will be played in principle on Thursdays 15 and 22 February with the exact schedule released after the draw.
And who can Arsenal face?
AEK Athens, Astana, Borussia Dortmund, Celtic, Copenhagen, Steaua Bucharest, Ludogorets, Lyon, Marseille, Napoli, Nice, Östersund, Partizan Belgrade, Real Sociedad, Spartak Moscow
Bring it on.