The benefits of the Europa League, plus Chelsea sale on the edge of collapse

By Tony Attwood

Of course it is not over until the final whistle of the last game, but it would be extraordinary if Tottenham really could do something as dramatic as repeat their end of season performance of May 2016 when they managed to lose their last match 5-1 when a point would have allowed them to end up higher than Arsenal in the league for the first time in centuries (well, at least for quite a long time – most of the Wengerian reign in fact).

But the turn of events that would take Arsenal into the Champions League seems rather unlikely, and we can expect to be in the Europa next season.

That of course is being talked of by the BBC and others as a huge failure, and yet it is progress of course – since we will be back in Europe.

But also I heard one commentator on Sky saying that Arsenal will not welcome the extra games the Europa League brings, with their very young squad.  In saying that they were forgetting (or more likely not even realising) that it is only a couple of games more in the Europa, and many of the early games allow the club to give younger players an outing, which is valuable in itself.  In the Champs League we would have to play the first team in every match.

Indeed Arsenal’s run in the group stages the last time we were in the competition was great fun to watch – at least for those of us who bothered to show up… and reminds us of the experience it gave to players not being picked for PL matches week on week.

Date Match Result Score
22 Oct 2020 Rapid Wien v Arsenal W 1-2
29 Oct 2020 Arsenal v Dundalk W 3-0
05 Nov 2020 Arsenal v Molde W 4-1
26 Nov 2020 Molde v Arsenal W 0-3
03 Dec 2020 Arsenal v Rapid Wien W 4-1
10 Dec 2020 Dundalk v Arsenal W 2-4

I believe I am right in remembering that we were the first-ever team to win all six group matches, and it enabled our younger players plus our reserve players to get games or substitute appearances.

Of course, I am not saying I prefer the Europa to the Champions League; but I’ll certainly renew my season ticket, and go to the Europa games, despite the 180-mile round trip that each home match involves.  And I will look forward to seeing some more of the youngsters coming through.

Perhaps one could also add that had we got into the Champions League (as I and everyone else hoped) the chances of making the final with this very young squad were small indeed, whereas with the Europa it is possible.

And yes I do remember what happened last time we made the final, although it is also interesting to reflect on what has happened to Chelsea since.

According to the Telegraph Roman Abramovich has been accused by the government of “refusing a new sale structure which blocks any risk of proceeds being claimed by his children.”   They also say that talks have broken down over the issue of the £1.6billion loan which Abramovich has made to the club, part of the numerous advantages Chelsea have had, and which the inept Premier League has allowed or even encouraged them to have.

“There’s quite serious concern in Government that the deal may fall apart and that Roman Abramovich is ultimately willing to let Chelsea go under,” the report announces one “senior Government source” has told the Telegraph.   The source also said, “The ridiculousness of this scenario is that Chelsea are saying to us they don’t know who owns Camberley International and [they] can’t talk to them. We cannot contact Camberley International to talk about this…

“In the structure they’re proposing, there’s a danger that it’s sanctions busting.  It also opens up the ability that, in future as a creditor, Abramovich or whoever owned Camberley could make a claim on it.”

People around Abramovich deny all this.  Abramovich himself appears to be not making an appearance.

At the same time the assets of Abramovich which are in banks in the Channel Island of Jersey (a tax haven under the protection of the crown but not part of the UK), have been frozen.  The group wanting to buy Chelsea insist that the issues are for the government not for them.

But the government leaker talking to the Telegraph, is reported by the paper to have said, “There are deadlines at the end of this month and the start of June which would either see the club booted out of European competition or the Football League entirely. But given that everything needs to be done, a good chunk of the sale needs to be done this week or next.”

All of which makes Arsenal’s difficulties with re-entering the Champions League look rather trivial.

14 Replies to “The benefits of the Europa League, plus Chelsea sale on the edge of collapse”

  1. Couldn’t agree more.
    We would have gladly taken fifth at 5he beginning of the season.
    Squad depth not good. Partey sadly can’t cope with the rigours of the Premiership, Smith Rowe and Saka running on empty, and Nketiah was nowhere near the first team 2 months ago.
    The Europa League gives us the opportunity to blood the likes of Saliba, Patino, Biereth and Balogun. So not quite the disaster everyone is saying.

  2. The point about the Europa is English clubs that compete there tend to stay there. Leicester won the title while not competing in Europe, no one has ever won the title competing in the Europa. You get all the extra games but not the cash or prestige Champions League clubs get. Which makes squad building more difficult. The extra games hurt a small squad, we have seen that with West Ham this season. Being out of Europe was a real advantage for Arsenal this season and they haven’t made the most of it. Next season I suspect Newcastle may do more in the same situation.

    As for Chelsea, £1.5bn owed to a mystery company that the club claim to know nothing about, not even who owns it. It shows just how badly run football is and why the government is now getting involved.

  3. I disagree Jod – I think the Europa gives an opportunity to have competitive games for up and coming players who otherwise will just get the occasional outing in the league cup or be sitting all season on the bench – if that. That in turn encourages more young players to look at Arsenal rather than elsewhere. Liverpool and Man C might have more glamour in the eyes of young players and their families but when they realise they will just never ever get a game, and see 18 and 20 year olds playing in Europe for Arsenal, that makes them think again, in my view.

  4. I think the Europa League is a great competition, with a refreshing diversity of teams competing in it. Also, it’s one we can realistically hope to win. To me, the thing that lets it down is UEFA’s stupid insistence on having it played on a Thursday night, so as to maximise their TV revenue. Many football players are parents of young, school-age children, and with school schedules, this means that, in having to play on Sundays instead of Saturdays, they miss having a full day off they can spend with their families, as the day before a match will almost always involve a training session, whereas often players are give the day after a match as a rest day. This, I can imagine makes the prospect of a year of Sunday matches a far less inviting prospect for players than it would be if they could play midweek on a Tuesday or Wednesday as it used to be before UEFA decided to chase money above all else.

  5. so now we trying to make a case that somehow Champions League football is bad for the club because 1st team players will be playing and more youths is guarantee to featured in Europa League matches (is the club really want to win it or just make up appearance). if the club really want to win it, they must take the competition seriously and the 1st team players will heavily featured because Europa League is no longer Conference League anymore and the winner will qualify automatically for the CL. the stakes is so much higher then before and don’t forget that the club is using loaned system to their advantage for the youths to gained more match experience (not that i’m saying Mikel won’t gave any youths a chance in a EL match at all and surely player like Charlie Patino will be better to go out on loaned next season like Emile does than continue to play youth football)

  6. We all would have liked the Champions League but our streaky form in the last 6 weeks was our undoing. I can accept the Europa League because of some of the reasons mentioned by Tony but not that Conference stuff. I don’t view it as an opportunity to train our youngsters but as an opportunity for our entire squad to play matches. In the Premier League, every match is important and we have seen MA make hard decisions and keep Elneny, Nketiah Holding and Lacazette (and Smith Rowe?) on the bench for extended periods. These games will allow them to play and develop chemistry with other players so when they are needed in the Premier League they can fit in seamlessly.

  7. There are more issues to be concerned with for next season than Champions/Europa football. What steps will the club take to better compete in the league. How will the striker situation be resolved. Add 1 or 2? None? Midfield is probably the weakest part of the team. Is the emphasis on holding players a tactical decision or a result of the lack of creativity in the players we do have? Who is the link between the defenders and forwards? A Santi Cazorla if you will. The projected back 4 at the start of the season are solid but real depth is needed. Saliba won Young Player of the Year. Bring him back or sell him on while he has value. I’d say give him a run. There needs to be less of a fall off when substitutions are made. If you look at the top two teams in the league, the substitutes would be first team on most other clubs. That’s the standard Arsenal should be aspiring to. That’s what makes a ‘big’ team. Aim to win the league FFS. I know I’m out of step with the times but the domestic campaigns are what matter to me. A Thursday night in Donetsk, not so much. The FA Cup (still love it) and League Cup matches are enough to give the younger/newer players experience. Climb up the PL table and everything else will fall in line.
    Still in all, it’s been a positive, enjoyable season.

  8. @goonersince72, yes many issues surrounding the club and within the team need to be sort out plus starting next season with 5 subs being allowed, many players will have more opportunities in the match

  9. Bushido –
    Good point, I forgot that. Also could help with the injury situation. Thanks.

  10. No doubt of the total disappointment at the result and especially the poor performance. Again the ref was not balanced, but that did not affect the result. Our expectations were raised quite late in the season, whereas for most of it, we would have regarded fifth place as progress and most pundits would not have predicted even this place.

    So, let’s keep perspective, recognise that the young players are still developing and celebrate all the good things which the team has produced this year.

    We can claim to be where we are on merit and not as the result of referee favours, unlike Spurs, who have been gifted 4 points in their last 2 matches (an immediate 6 point advantage over Arsenal). Don’t listen to the scathing remarks from “fans” such as Piers Morgan and reflect on the fact that there are many fans of other clubs who would gladly be in Arsenal’s position.

    Let’s look forward with optimism to the next season, with the hope of further progress.

  11. It is simple. We have taken steps forward this season. But not yet to the level of CL qualification I think. I would have loved it but I think it would put a big pressure on our young team. Don’t forget we have the youngest team in the PL. That is good and bad news in one. Good news is we will get better and stronger. Bad news as it brings more ups and downs than with a team that has 3 or 4 years older in avarage age. But the fact we are in any European competition is a big step forward for me.

  12. @John L, 100 percent agreed. before the start of the season, they all belittle us (even by our own fans) as a relegation fodder and don’t even gave the club a fair fighting chance but now they’re (pundits and celebs alike) quick to throw their disappointment around the club achievement with the youngest squad in the league and praying for other team to cherry pick our players. f–k them all, this been a great season with many great memories to cherish. isn’t that what football is all about, to have you feel good and when the team is down, you still 100 percent confident they will get up fighting again. so it’s ok to feel slightly angry and disappoint when the team didn’t perform but the players also humans, and we still believe and trust them to continue fighting for this club that was so dearly to us all

  13. I admit that I was among those who was praying and hoping that we would overtake Chelski . But alas , ..the best laid plans of mice and men !

    Then I was reduced to hoping that we could hold firm and get 4th place , and possibly more money for team rebuilding, but once again my plans may never see the light of day.

    But wait ! This is the Spuds we are talking about – you know , the team that often shoots itself in the foot ! Could history repeat it self ? Will we once again have the joy of a St. Totteringham’s Day ? Why not ?

    Am betting on a Teemu Pukki hattrick to bring back the smiles to Arsenal fans’ faces !

    Up the Gunners !
    WOO HOO , HOO !

  14. LOL, Brickfields. Hope springs eternal, but on our last performances I’m more worried that Richarlison and DCL will bully our makeshift defense into more goal-awarding errors than I am looking forward to any St Totteringham’s day joy. At least 5th is as far as we can fall. I get the feeling that our squad is mentally and physically finished already, which doesn’t bode well for an upcoming season including European football as well. Arteta and Edu need to quickly sort out some better squad players. We can’t afford the drop off in quality we see from playing the likes of Cedric or Tavares on the wings. Partey is injury prone, so another number 6 is needed on top of retaining Elneny, who has done well enough. Lokonga doesn’t appear to suit Arteta’s system, so might be better off being loaned out or sold, unless Arteta can adapt tactically. I really wish Arteta was less prone to throwing away decent players, but who knows, perhaps as he gains experience he’ll become less brittle and reactive in his management style. And for god’s sake, we need to use the summer to find anyone who can score more than the dross we have for strikers – we don’t need world class, just top 10 PL class, which would better than what we’ve had this season.
    Long term, I think Arsenal need to accept and adapt to the new football reality and plan strategically as to how to use their current position best to their advantage. This would mean better scouting of lesser known players (rather than, for instance, wasting an entire transfer window in the futile pursuit of a “top player” who was never going to join us over Juventus), accepting a position as a feeder club, albeit one with a massive fan base, optimal location, and magnificent exposure potential, providing players a step upwards towards the new state-backed super clubs. This would include better planning and use of youth systems, loans and feeder clubs, in the manner of what Chelski have done, to expand our reach throughout Europe and even further afield in the hopes of better identifying and attracting that upcoming talent. We should be doing that as much to plan for the replacement of any of our array of young up and coming stars (who we should be prepared to sell for BIG money when super clubs come sniffing – rather than letting them leave as free agents – as they no doubt will unless we can regularly be winning trophies), as to build a solid base for improving the team.
    If we can manage to be solidly competitive each year, and with a secure system for bring in and replacing talent, then who knows, when the current super-state-back club cycle comes to an end, we will still be in a good place to capitalise on it. I don’t think it’s in our interests to throw the kitchen sink at trying to keep up with Abu-Dhabi FC/ Saudi Arabia FC/Qatar FC, etc, it’s not going to be possible. That said, I wish our owners would have had the foresight and balls to have courted Pep or Klopp when they were available, as who knows what difference a world class manager would have made to our current predicament. Arteta is decent – a younger Spanish Moyes (with lego hair) – and is doing a job, but is more representative of where we are at the moment – a mid table team – then where we wish we were. As long as he competently manages this transition and we emerge better managed and with a long term strategy, then I’m OK with his “process”. The era of the super manager, the one man show who takes over an basically runs a club ala Ferguson or Wenger is over, so it was always going to take time for the club to transition and adapt, post Wenger. Besides their financial advantage, another thing Abu Dhabi FC have over us is they used the years before Pep to professionally structure their whole organisation and get top people in every position all working to a strategic goal. Pep, then was the cherry on top of an already well run organisation. We’re currently in the reorganising phase, and hopefully a new club identity and strategy will become visible.

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