The Importance Of Arsenal’s Europa League Run


Arsenal’s Spanish head coach Unai Emery reacts during the UEFA Europa League group E football match Sporting CP vs Arsenal FC at the Alvalade stadium in Lisbon on October 25, 2018. (Photo by Francisco LEONG / AFP) (Photo credit should read FRANCISCO LEONG/AFP/Getty Images)Getty

Arsenal’s failure to qualify for the UEFA Champions League the last two seasons didn’t just hurt its reputation. It also hurt its pockets.

The Champions League is incredibly lucrative for the clubs involved from revenue sharing alone, and Arsenal had grown somewhat dependent on those additional funds after appearing in the competition for 19 consecutive years between 1998 and 2017 under Arsene Wenger. Without that cash injection the last two seasons, Arsenal has been forced to tighten its purse strings.

Look no further than the January transfer window for evidence of the effect the lack of Champions League soccer has had on Arsenal’s budget. Head coach Unai Emery admitted the club lacked the funds to make any permanent transfers during the window. It was only able to make loan offers with an option to buy, not even an obligation, which led to only Barcelona attacking midfielder Denis Suarez being brought in to a squad that could do with reinforcements all over the pitch.

Arsenal’s inactivity in January was exasperated by the turmoil in its front office this winter, but that seems to have been laid to rest now. Sven Mislintat is out as head of recruitment and Raul Sanllehi is in charge of all football matters for the club. There are reports that Sanllehi and Emery would love to add Spanish compatriot Monchi — a highly-respected character in world soccer whom Emery worked with at Sevilla — as director of football to fill out the technical staff by the summer.

With the front office turmoil done and dusted and the potential to add Mocnhi to its recruitment team in the near-future, Sanllehi and Emery can get back to the business of bringing long-term success back to Arsenal. And the best way to do that would be to kickstart the club’s finances by once again qualifying for the Champions League, which could have a major effect on Arsenal’s spending power as soon as this summer, according to the BBC’s David Ornstein.

“It’s difficult for Arsenal because they don’t what money they’re going to be playing with,” Ornstein said on the Arsecast podcast last week. “There are some suggestions around the 40 million-pound mark. Depending on what competition Arsenal get in, I’ve been told it could be around 100 million pounds to spend.”

Returning to the Champions League is a vital next step in the project Arsenal is undertaking. But what is the best path to that return? A top-four finish in the Premier League is still certainly doable for the Gunners, but it will be a challenge. Arsenal sits in fifth place, tied on points with Chelse and a point behind Manchester United. So Arsenal’s best opportunity to make its triumphant Champions League return is likely through winning the Europa League.

Part of the reason why the Europa League is a simpler path is pure numbers. There are 13 Premier League matches left on Arsenal’s schedule this season, but only nine potential Europa League matches. Not only will Arsenal need to finish strong to finish in the top four, but it will also likely need a lot of help as well thanks to a surging Manchester United that shows no signs of slowing down.

In the Europa League, those nine matches are really more like seven thanks to the fact that the Gunners will face Bulgarian club BATE Borisov in the first knockout round on Thursday, Feb. 14. Borisov is a fantastic club for its size, but it doesn’t hold a candle to Arsenal, and the Gunners should advance without much of a challenge. The tournament will get more difficult from there, but not to the level of a Champions League. There are no Barcelona’s or Bayern Munich’s walking through the door. The remainder of the field is evenly-matched with Arsenal at best (Chelsea, Inter Milan, Napoli) and pushovers at worst (Borisov, Rapid Wien, Malmo). All can be beaten by the Gunners if they play to their full capability.

Arsenal also has one thing no other club in the Europa League can claim, or rather one person: Emery, the most successful manager in Europa League history. Emery lifted the Europa League trophy with Sevilla three times in a row between 2013 and 2016, which is one of the major reasons Arsenal hired him. If anyone knows how to navigate this competition and use it as a tool to kickstart the next season, it’s Emery. His experience and success in the competition should give the Arsenal players confidence they can kick on and hoist the trophy themselves. And lest we forget, Arsenal lost in the Europa semifinal to Atletico Madrid last season, so the Gunners have already proved they can go deep in the tourney. Emery will attempt to provide that extra push to get them over the edge.

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Arsenal’s Spanish head coach Unai Emery reacts during the UEFA Europa League group E football match Sporting CP vs Arsenal FC at the Alvalade stadium in Lisbon on October 25, 2018. (Photo by Francisco LEONG / AFP) (Photo credit should read FRANCISCO LEONG/AFP/Getty Images)Getty

Arsenal’s failure to qualify for the UEFA Champions League the last two seasons didn’t just hurt its reputation. It also hurt its pockets.

The Champions League is incredibly lucrative for the clubs involved from revenue sharing alone, and Arsenal had grown somewhat dependent on those additional funds after appearing in the competition for 19 consecutive years between 1998 and 2017 under Arsene Wenger. Without that cash injection the last two seasons, Arsenal has been forced to tighten its purse strings.

Look no further than the January transfer window for evidence of the effect the lack of Champions League soccer has had on Arsenal’s budget. Head coach Unai Emery admitted the club lacked the funds to make any permanent transfers during the window. It was only able to make loan offers with an option to buy, not even an obligation, which led to only Barcelona attacking midfielder Denis Suarez being brought in to a squad that could do with reinforcements all over the pitch.

Arsenal’s inactivity in January was exasperated by the turmoil in its front office this winter, but that seems to have been laid to rest now. Sven Mislintat is out as head of recruitment and Raul Sanllehi is in charge of all football matters for the club. There are reports that Sanllehi and Emery would love to add Spanish compatriot Monchi — a highly-respected character in world soccer whom Emery worked with at Sevilla — as director of football to fill out the technical staff by the summer.

With the front office turmoil done and dusted and the potential to add Mocnhi to its recruitment team in the near-future, Sanllehi and Emery can get back to the business of bringing long-term success back to Arsenal. And the best way to do that would be to kickstart the club’s finances by once again qualifying for the Champions League, which could have a major effect on Arsenal’s spending power as soon as this summer, according to the BBC’s David Ornstein.

“It’s difficult for Arsenal because they don’t what money they’re going to be playing with,” Ornstein said on the Arsecast podcast last week. “There are some suggestions around the 40 million-pound mark. Depending on what competition Arsenal get in, I’ve been told it could be around 100 million pounds to spend.”

Returning to the Champions League is a vital next step in the project Arsenal is undertaking. But what is the best path to that return? A top-four finish in the Premier League is still certainly doable for the Gunners, but it will be a challenge. Arsenal sits in fifth place, tied on points with Chelse and a point behind Manchester United. So Arsenal’s best opportunity to make its triumphant Champions League return is likely through winning the Europa League.

Part of the reason why the Europa League is a simpler path is pure numbers. There are 13 Premier League matches left on Arsenal’s schedule this season, but only nine potential Europa League matches. Not only will Arsenal need to finish strong to finish in the top four, but it will also likely need a lot of help as well thanks to a surging Manchester United that shows no signs of slowing down.

In the Europa League, those nine matches are really more like seven thanks to the fact that the Gunners will face Bulgarian club BATE Borisov in the first knockout round on Thursday, Feb. 14. Borisov is a fantastic club for its size, but it doesn’t hold a candle to Arsenal, and the Gunners should advance without much of a challenge. The tournament will get more difficult from there, but not to the level of a Champions League. There are no Barcelona’s or Bayern Munich’s walking through the door. The remainder of the field is evenly-matched with Arsenal at best (Chelsea, Inter Milan, Napoli) and pushovers at worst (Borisov, Rapid Wien, Malmo). All can be beaten by the Gunners if they play to their full capability.

Arsenal also has one thing no other club in the Europa League can claim, or rather one person: Emery, the most successful manager in Europa League history. Emery lifted the Europa League trophy with Sevilla three times in a row between 2013 and 2016, which is one of the major reasons Arsenal hired him. If anyone knows how to navigate this competition and use it as a tool to kickstart the next season, it’s Emery. His experience and success in the competition should give the Arsenal players confidence they can kick on and hoist the trophy themselves. And lest we forget, Arsenal lost in the Europa semifinal to Atletico Madrid last season, so the Gunners have already proved they can go deep in the tourney. Emery will attempt to provide that extra push to get them over the edge.



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