Although Arsene Wenger’s side are currently enjoying a rather profitable spell near the top of the Premier League, converting their strong domestic form onto the European scene has so far been somewhat troublesome.
Back-to-back losses to both Dinamo Zagreb and Olympiakos mean Arsenal now go into their mid-week fixture with Bayern Munich needing a result against the Bundesliga giants. Whilst it’s by no means an impossible task, it remains distinctly hard to imagine Arsenal qualifying for the knock-out stages of the Champions League in the face of such formidable opposition.
Even if Arsene Wenger and co. somehow manage to cause an upset against Pep Guardiola’s star-studded outfit this week, the Gunners still seem unlikely to resurrect themselves in Europe thanks to the team’s previous lack-lustre performances in the tournament.
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So then, are the Emirates faithful left with no choice but to mourn their side’s fate in the Champions League this season, or could an early exit from the illustrious competition actually represent a blessing in disguise for the long-standing Premier League club among the English top-flight?
Well, although nothing can really be counted upon at this stage of the campaign, the signs do in-fact seem to suggest that Arsenal could well profit from exiting their European duties somewhat prematurely. The fans seemingly wouldn’t take to such a notion lightly, and no top flight player ever wants to give up on a major competition, especially one as hotly coveted as the Champions League – but perhaps this is just the turn of events the Gunners require this season to really make some meaningful headway in the league.
Let’s face it – Manchester City currently reign over the strongest looking squad in England, there is ultimately not much doubt surrounding that particular line of thinking. However, Manuel Pellegrini’s side have nonetheless let themselves down in the past despite the obvious wealth of resources in place behind the scenes at the Etihad.
Given the fact that Manchester United arguably remain even more hard to predict in the modern era, Liverpool are currently undergoing a major transitional phase with Jurgen Klopp now in place at Anfield, and Chelsea have so far been distinctly poor across every area of the pitch this term – Arsenal seemingly find themselves pretty well placed in terms of succeeding in the Premier League this season.
Winning the English top-flight outright in 2015/16 therefore remains an achievable task for the Gunners, even if a fair amount of luck must be present within the team to do so. Wenger’s squad simply isn’t in the best of shapes ahead of the rest of the campaign of course. Arsenal’s starting XI looks strong by all accounts, but behind that there is very little strength in depth to aid the team throughout the entire season.
Yet with perhaps one or two more additions across the January transfer window, such an issue may well be seen to in North London. If Arsenal can successfully build upon their strong start to the new campaign, finishing the season as league champions really is an attainable goal for the Gunners.
However, sacrificing the remainder of their Champions League fixtures will nonetheless send an important message out among the club’s many top flight rivals. If Arsene Wenger decides to go down such a seemingly controversial path, Arsenal’s status among the rest of the European scene will certainly be damaged. It will be made clear that the Gunners no longer see themselves as a side worthy of winning club football’s most illustrious trophy – and that simply won’t do the club any favours throughout their future endeavours.
But maybe Arsene Wenger has ultimately been left with no choice. After such a poor start to the Champions League this season, Arsenal look like they are heading for an early exit from the competition regardless of their current state of mind. Without a strong enough squad to deal with such a vast array of matches, the Gunners were arguably going to struggle all along.
So, whilst it may seem difficult for the Emirates faithful in Europe at this stage in the game, Arsenal must use their prior defeats in the competition as further incentive to improve on their domestic form throughout the season. With such a renewed emphasis on board for Wenger’s side this season, winning the Premier League trophy may well have become a feasible task for the Gunners with all things considered.