Arsenal’s 2-0 loss to Newcastle United has all but doomed the Gunners for another year outside the top-four and a return to UEFA Europa League football, with Tottenham fans laughing all the way to the bank.
After leading the race for fourth spot for most of the season, Arsenal have bottled it in the final games of the season, with a Norwich City miracle win against Spurs and three points against Everton the only outcome that will see Mikel Arteta’s side qualify for the UEFA Champions League.
It is a bitter pill to swallow, and Arsenal fans are rightly fuming at the squad and the coaching staff for throwing away their best chance of a top-four finish in years. However, the situation is hardly the end of the world, and he are five reasons why.
A Europa League finish is still huge progress for Arsenal
Cast your minds back to August and you will remember an Arsenal in a much bigger crisis than the one they currently find themselves in. Pundits had all but written the Gunners off on finishing in the top six, and European football looked set to be a challenge for Arteta’s side.
However, this season has seen Arsenal make massive progress on their road to the top of English football. And whilst a fifth-place finish does sting, there’s no denying that the Gunners have exceeded expectations set by many pundits and fans at the start of the season.
Arteta can hand next Hale End stars their debuts
One huge benefit from recent Europa League campaigns is that it allowed Arsenal to hand crucial minutes and debuts to exciting young talents, with the likes of Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe all cutting their teeth in the competition on their way to becoming the players they are now.
With Arsenal having another exciting crop of youngsters coming through in Charlie Patino, Omari Hutchinson and Marcelo Flores, to name a few, Arteta can plant the seeds for the next generation by handing these prospects their senior debuts for the Gunners.
Transfer targets will still be interested in the project
Qualifying for the Champions League can, for some clubs, be the difference between signing their main transfer targets or having to settle for cheaper options, yet for Arsenal, it is unlikely that the Gunners will encounter this problem.
The club have shown this season that they can compete in the Premier League, and with the right signings in the right areas, Arteta could reach the promised land of Champions League football even whilst competing in the Europa League.
Fringe players will get regular minutes to impress Arteta
As mentioned earlier, youngsters will benefit hugely from playing in the Europa League, yet so will other members of the Arsenal squad who are deemed as nothing but backup options to Arteta.
The likes of Cedric Soares, Mohamed Elneny (should he renew) and the incoming Matt Turner will play a good chunk of their football in the Europa League next season, and this could be huge in keeping the Arsenal squad fit and match ready for the entire campaign.
Arsenal have a real shot at winning the competition
Champions League football is obviously the main goal in Arsenal’s long-term plan under Arteta, yet winning the competition is something the Gunners realistically won’t achieve in this lifetime, whilst the Europa League is more than achievable.
After all, the Gunners made the semi-finals last season and were finalists in 2019, and with the quality and reputation of the competition increasing greatly this season, Arsenal could have a genuine chance of winning the Europa League, especially given the prize of a return to Champions League football.
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