Arsenal are in the running for to finish Top 4.
A week ago Gary Linekar said that Arsenal “do not have the squad to compete for the top 4” ignoring the fact that we were certainly in a 3 horse race to finish in a Champions League spot. As it stands we are 5th, 1 point behind Manchester United in 4th.
The Premier League has 6 competitive teams fighting for 4 places. 6 in to 4 does not go. In the 9 seasons since the turn of the decade, none of the so-called “big 6” have finished top 4 in every season:
The Premier League is the hardest league in the world to finish top 4. No team, not even big spending Manchester City, are guaranteed it – where as in Spain, Italy and Germany you can pretty much guarantee that Barcelona, Juventus, Real Madrid & Bayern Munich will always make it.
This makes it a little bit harder to budget as a Premier League team.
Where as those sides in Spain, Italy and Germany know they will make the Champions League, so can offer 5-year deals knowing that they will have the income to cover it; Premier League sides have to be a bit more careful.
Not being in the Champions League cost Arsenal around £40million in 2017/18. With it not being an easy path to get back in, Arsenal need to ensure that they are budgeting not to qualify for the Champions League.
Any side that runs their budget and wage bill to qualify for the Champions League would be in financial danger if they failed to qualify. The £40million loss would force them to sell players to balance the books.
Alternatively, like Arsenal, you could keep a good cash balance so that you can supplement income from your savings if you do fail to qualify for a couple of years. In real life terms it is like keeping 6 months worth of mortgage payments in a savings account so that you do not risk losing your home if you lose your job.
Despite when Linekar said, Arsenal are competing for the top 4, but finishing there is not a guarantee.
It is this competition for top 4 that led me to blog about Points v Places.
Perhaps an easier route into the Champions League is winning the Europa League.
Tonight Arsenal play BATE Borisov – the Belorussian champions.
The two sides faced each other in the group stages of the Europa League last season. Arsenal scored 10 goals across both games. BATE finishing bottom of the group with just 1 win.
BATE have performed better in this years Europa League with 3 wins from 6 games – and losing just 3-1 and 1-0 against Chelsea.
Arsenal should comfortably get through to the Round of 16; and further progression should not be a problem.
The big names in the Europa League are; Napoli (2nd in Seria A), Inter Milan (3rd) and Lazio (7th). Sevilla (4th in La Liga), Real Betis (7th), Valencia (8th) and Villarrea (19th). You also have Bayern Leverkuson and Chelsea who are both 6th in their respective leagues.
The only sides that would really concern me are Napoli, Chelsea and Sevilla.
Winning the Europa League is a realistic target.
With Arsenal being out of both domestic competitions, we easily have the resources to rotate and keep players fresh for both competitions.
Despite what some have said, Arsenal have two good routes into the Champions League.