Have Arsenal proven they are not ready for the Champions League?
There’s no doubt about the fact that Arsenal has improved significantly over the course of this season, but questions surrounding their readiness to rejoin the Champions League have arisen. Being free of the pressures of European football, many have pegged Arsenal as favourites to finish the season in fourth place, and with only one game left in the season, it’s looking highly unlikely that this will happen.
Arsenal has not managed to secure Champions League football for the last five seasons, but the 21/22 season was the first wherein the Gunners missed out on European football completely having finished in 8th position at the end of the season.
After spending the most money on transfers in the summer transfer window of 2021 in the Premier League, much was expected of the Gunners, who had strengthened their squad, and who now had one less competition to worry about. The transfer strategy however into question, as Edu Gaspar, Arsenal’s technical director focussed his efforts on signing a handful of youthful unexperienced players ahead of more experienced names. Among these names included Nuno Taveres, Albert Sambi Lokonga, and Takehiro Tomiyasu, a player that is now being ranked as one of the top five Asian players to play for Arsenal.
The beginning of the season saw the Gunners struggle, but as the season went on, Arsenal began to rally with strings of unbeaten runs, which saw them rise up the Premier League table and inhabit the fourth position for the majority of the competition. They even held this position when they had had a handful of games in hand, which looks a lot like progress to the Arsenal faithful.
South African betting sites had fancied the Gunners’ chances to finish in the top four by the end of the season, as across different bookmakers in the country, Arsenal had been given short odds to the team to claim the final Champions League spot. The same now however cannot be said, as Arsenal’s chances of qualifying for the Champions League hang by a thread.
With all this in mind, is it fair to say that Arsenal is not ready to rejoin European football’s biggest competition? After a significant squad strengthening, and without the pressure of a European competition, Arsenal is looking highly likely to have failed to qualify for a sixth consecutive season. After needing to win only one of their last three games in the Premier League to qualify, they’re now relying on a win against a galvanized Everton, who have secured another season of Premier League football after a comeback victory over Chrystal Palace, whilst needing Tottenham to lose to a Norwich team that has struggled all season.
Arsenal fans will be happy knowing that they have secured European football in the form of the Europa League, however, they will be disappointed knowing that their team was so close to securing a spot in the next Champions League season. The failure to qualify for the Champions League season, while not having to play in any European football with a strengthened squad is proof enough to show that Arsenal is not yet ready to feature in the biggest football competition in Europe.