So Champions League football has returned, that means joy fills your heart. Hearing that glorious theme tune ring through your ears brings pure euphoria to your heart, until you remember that Arsenal aren’t in it. After finishing fifth last season, Arsenal will not partake in the competition for the first time in 20 years, and this brings a new question, how should Arsenal use their squad for the competition? Baring in mind that this competition offers an alternative way to qualify for the Champions League, this is an opportunity that Arsenal could capitalise on, especially with the strength of competiton in regards to the top 4.
One thing that immediately works in Arsenal’s favour is that they have an extremely large squad size. They club is capable of putting out two strong starting 11 teams, that can compete at the highest level. Judging from recent reports that a majority of the starting 11 didn’t partake in training, we can see the trend that Arsene Wenger is going to be following now and in the future. Reports have stated that players such as: Ozil, Ramsey, Koscielny, Xhaka, Lacazette and Cech didn’t partake in training although being match fit. This information provides insight as to which kind of players will be taking part in the game. Fringe players like Iwobi, Wilshere and Holding will be looking to use this opportunity to show Wenger their quality and why they should be breaking into the first team and becoming a regular.
This team selection makes the most sense to utilise. Baring in mind these game take place on Thursday evenings and the team could play on a Sunday afternoon, keeping the first team players as fresh as possible should be a priority given that Wenger is persisting that Arsenal can win the league. Furthermore, the majority of the players that have been warming the bench can make a legitimate claim that they should be starting more games; therefore, featuring in these games and playing the full 90 minutes; it provides them with the platform to showcase their talents and prove that they should be featured more in the Premier League.
Moreover, if you explore the fixture list and look at the Premier League fixtures when Arsenal are coming back from an away group fixture, the games are difficult. Looking at the fixtures that Arsenal are faced with, the games are: Brighton at home, Everton away & Burnley away. The only fixture within those 3 that you would be certain of 3 points would be the home fixture against Burnley. Subsequently, utilising the large squad makes sense for Wenger. It offers the fringe players the opportunity to play full games and showcase their skillset, while the first team players remain well rested and provides the team with the best chance of succeeding in the Premier League.
To conclude, the Europa League provides viable competition for the Arsenal squad. The teams in the competition are more than capable of causing Arsenal problems and bringing the best out of the team on the field. However, the team that should be on the field are the players that don’t get regular game time and can use this platform to parachute themselves into first team consideration. It will be an interesting competition to watch for the Arsenal faithful. On one hand, their passion never runs dry for their team and they will be invested in the games, but there will be envy at not being involved in the biggest club competition.
Written by @_TimPD