Another season, another tie of the Europa League with an impending sense of doom for Arsenal.
For the ninth year in a row, the Gunners are relying on the minor club competition of European football as they continue their desperate search for a way back to the Champions League.
But in fact they have never been further from that level in the modern age.
For months he has felt as if the club’s internal games in north London were meaningless; something to deviate from the big on Thursday night.
Sunday’s comfortable 2-0 win over longtime Newcastle wrestlers was no exception, with end players such as Mohamed Elny and Willian providing rare starts, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was given the opportunity to rediscover his goals after a malaria attack. The result shifted Arsenal from tenth to ninth.
While you won’t be knocking for the dominant performance, it’s undeniable that the semi-final second leg against Villarreal – and a one-goal deficit – will be a completely different pitcher. Although it is easy to speculate, it is difficult to imagine the fragile defense of Arsenal, which keeps the characters of Gerard Moreno, Samuel Chuquuese and Paco Alcácer.
Terrible nights like the first match at the Estadio de la Ceramica reflect that this annual abandoned pursuit of Europa League glory – if you can call it that – is more detrimental in the long run than internal stability and a coherent boost to European qualification – be it for Europe or the Champions League.
It feels ominous that the Europa League has not been kind to Arsenal either, with a semi-final defeat to Atletico Madrid, a recent loss to Chelsea and the last 32 disruptions from last season against Olympiacos in consecutive years, which dictate that luck may not be theirs. party on Thursday.
The strange sense of right of artillerymen when it comes to a place at the top table in Europe is becoming increasingly confusing, with the signatures of blockbusters such as Aubameyang, Nicolas Pépé and Thomas Partey failing to stop gradually sliding down the table and entering in mediocrity.
Mikel Arteta’s team is in the insurmountable 12 points of the top four at the time of writing, dropping out of the Europa League and even preparing to miss the inaugural Europa League, as things stand.
In this context, it is a little surprising that the Arsenal hierarchy took the opportunity to become a founding member of the so-called Super League, guaranteeing them a place in an elite club competition (and a cow in cash) for more than two decades.
Now that nirvana is out of the table for a team drowning in mediocrity, perhaps another exit from the Europa League would not be the worst thing in the world. Of course, this would mean a financial blow and make it difficult to attract top-level names, but you could certainly say that the team has a few shrewd signatures to be good enough to be in the top six. without distracting European football – especially in the secondary competition with away games at the back of nowhere.
It would also give Arteta a full season of indoor soccer to brush his teeth and really test his abilities, with juggling competitions and priorities obviously something like a stumbling block for that term.
Such is the decline of Arsenal, it has reached the point where a season without European football would certainly benefit the club, allowing them to focus on the league, restart, make sense of their internal matches and return there, where they clearly feel they belong.