I’ve been thinking, right…

Dangerous, I know, but hear me out with this.

Maybe the Europa League for next season isn’t that bad after all? I know, I know, there are plenty of reasons to be pretty perturbed by it. For one thing until we get to the quarter finals we won’t play a team we even knew existed, so it hardly makes for a midweek spectacle to get excited about at The Emirates. We’ll play teams that are more ‘Meh’ than ‘Messi’. 

There’s also the fact that we’ll have yet more Thursday-Sunday football and like we don’t get little enough 3pm kick offs, the possibility for it next season will be ever more so diminished. We like our tradition in football and the 3pm kick off is an ever-dwindling one as the Premier League reaches new heights of globalism. 

The stadium will most likely resemble that of the Sunderland game too as some fans just stay away because they can’t be bothered to go along to see FC Morvaschengen. 

Or will it though? And this is where I’m going with the positivity. Perhaps I’m just trying to convince myself with writing today’s blog more than anything else, but I’ve started to think that the Europa League represents an opportunity for us. For one thing we’ll start off as one of the best teams in the competition. We should be looking at it as an opportunity to realistically win another trophy. The last 20 years of Champions League football have brought us two semi finals and a final and nothing more. That’s because the calibre of opposition has just been so much better than us and that is certainly something we can’t be saying about our opposition in the Europa. Even when the Champions League teams join, we should still be looking to do them over as well, so perhaps actually standing a chance in the competition is a good thing. I get that the pride is dented and there’ll be a few social media messages from growing City, Chelski, Liverpool, Spurs and probably United fans, but as it stands there aren’t many of those that’ll get beyond the quarters of this competition. So what’s there to gloat about really? The bank balance? We’ve had our fair share of that in the last 20 years so let’s let someone else give out some of that hollow gloating.

Selfishly, I’m also pleased my bloody expensive season ticket has also been reduced, because it helps my wallet at a time in which I kind of need it for personal reasons. 

But when I started thinking about writing today’s blog I started to think about the League Cup too, as well as the similarities between the two competitions, and I started to wonder if we’d start to see a few more youth players. And do you know what? I got a little pang of excitement at the prospect of seeing a few. Am I the only one who gets that? You know, when we are in the league cup and The Jeff starts, and you wonder if he’ll be our next Cesc, so you get a little excited to see what he can do. That’s how I felt when I thought about Arsenal fielding some of the reserve players in the competition early stages. I started to think about the possibility of giving more of the first teamers a week off between games and how that could potentially help our domestic campaign. I also started to think that by giving more games to those younger players, we’ll be giving them a greater opportunity to potentially establish themselves as a first teamer. Wouldn’t it just be amazing if instead of having an Iwobi break through next season, we had two or three who could be knocking on the door? That’s something that gets me excited and makes me think that the Europa League might not be all that bad for us.

The trick will be to manage the competition properly. The last thing we need is injuries to key players in these types of competitions and ultimately if we go out with a development squad, you can see the impact having no European football has on a team – with Liverpool and Chelski benefitting from it this season. If, as we all suspect, Arsène announces a new deal for a couple of seasons, we will need him to totally rotate the squad for midweek action. I’d be more than happy to see no first team players play anything other than the weekend Premier League games until January. That would be a total blessing to us and I suspect add as much as 10% extra in to the team. 

Not having the Champions League is supposed to prevent us from signing the ‘top players’, but we don’t get those anyway. Alexis was moved on for Suarez and Özil for Bale. But had those players been available now, do you think they wouldn’t have signed for Arsenal? Of course they would because we have the money. So I don’t think Champions League football offers anything other than a cherry on top for players and even if it did represent more, we wouldn’t be in for those players anyway. We can afford to pay more with the TV deal money and as much as I’d like to say ‘we’ll just have to pay extra because we’re in a lesser competition’, the reality is that we will pay extra because we’re an English club and that is where the money is at. And overseas players and agents know this. We already paid over the odds for Xhaka and Mustafi, so what difference will this summer make really? We’re still going to have to pay through the nose.

So now that I’ve had a day or two to digest it, am I really that fussed about the Europa League next season? 

Not really. There is more concern about attracting the right players because we have a legacy manager and not a ‘project’ manager. That is a whole other debate and one I think I might save until after the cup final, because that’s when we’ll know more about Arsène’s future.

Right, I’m offski for another day, so cheerio.