Yesterday I spent a bit of time on the blog talking about the fact that I’m not sure that there’s much to play for this season. I speculated that we might see a little bit of experimentation as we have little to play for. But as Moneychester City glided past PSG to reach the Champions League semi-final, I found myself googling the rulings around the Champions League placings, especially as Liverpool have the advantage at home against Dortmund.

It seems as though the rules are quite clear, with no more than five clubs allowed in the competition from any one country, so whoever gets fourth would find themselves shunted down in to the Europa league for next season. However, what I’m struggling with this morning, is what happens if City finish third, Arsenal pick up the usual fourth placed trophy and Liverpool win the Europa? There would still be five teams in the competition, so is that allowed? Forgive me, but I’m not one for trawling through UEFA rule books, but I think that City will get a top four spot, where as most scenarios I have seen appear to be based on the premise that both City and Liverpool finish outside of the top four. Damn these permutations. It’s too much for a groggy man on a tube at 7.30am on a Wednesday. Especially one who was woken up by a neighbour drilling at 6am.

So do we have something to play for after all? Is the fourth placed trophy now a third placed trophy?

We all know it’s neither, that this season has been a disaster in some sense, but imagine the cataclysmic failure that would be not even reaching the top competition in Europe? I think they’d have to put tonnes of metaphorical ice on Arsenal Twitter, because the heat that would be generated through furious typing would surely reach similar levels to the surface of the sun. 

So perhaps we do have something to play for. Perhaps Arsène will tell everyone this on Friday at his pre game presser. Perhaps we’ll all be told how the ‘race for third’ is the new ‘race for fourth’. 

I’d still experiment. We’ve seen so much repetition from our seasons in the last ten years, what would a Champions League qualification do to change anything? Actually, let me stop myself for a second, because I don’t truly want to see Arsenal out of the Champions League. I’m not one of those people who say they’d rather us fail so that it enforces change. I want Arsenal to win every game they play. But I guess what I’m getting at is that this all feels familiar, doesn’t it? We thought this season could be different. We thought the league could be within our grasp. We effed it up royally and now we’re back where we’re used to being; scrapping to ensure our Champions League survival.

It’s all a bit, well, samey, isn’t it?

So at least a bit of experimentation would make it look like we’re starting preparations for next season early, with the view to giving us the best possible opportunity of going for that league properly, by trying different approaches so that when the inevitable injury crisis hits us again next season, we’ll be ready to shuffle the pack knowing what formulas and team set ups work. We’ve already learned of some that don’t (Flamini and Ramsey) and some that do (Coquelin and Elneny) in midfield, so why not keep trying to give us a better indication in the summer?

Anyway what do I know? I’m a fan who says and thinks things with his heart and not his head. I’m not a specialist in football analysis. I try to see the patterns of play and to have a view based on our set up, but I am as flawed as most people who watch the game. But what I do want to see is something different. I want to be ‘wowed’ again. I want more of the exciting Arsenal that we all know is there, but just hasn’t been on display enough over the course of this season.

Anyway I’m rambling. I should probably stop now. Have a good Wednesday!! 🙂