Is the Europa League Arsenal’s best chance of Champions League football?
Arsenal are about to begin their second successive campaign in the Europa League.
It’s not where the Gunners want to be. They were Champions League finalists in 2006, and that’s where they’re striving to return.
But to do that, they must either win the Europa League, or finish in the top four of the Premier League. The Ladbrokes News Team have analysed which path may offer Unai Emery’s men a better chance of achieving their target…
Arsenal came up short last season, when they were beaten by Atletico Madrid in the semi-final stage.
On paper, the Europa League can offer Arsenal Champions League football in just 15 games, versus the Premier League’s 38.
But there’s plenty of sides who could deny the Gunners – starting with a massively improved Chelsea side. Maurizio Sarri’s Blues are 11/2 favourites to win the tournament.
Europa League kingpins Sevilla are contenders too, while Bayer Leverkusen, AC Milan, Lazio and Marseille are all capable of downing the Gunners on their day.
Then there are teams who could drop in from the Champions League. That may well include sides such as Napoli, Tottenham Hotspur or Inter Milan.
There may be fewer games via the European route, but it’s packed with quality opponents and knockout football is always fraught with risks. There are rarely second chances. One error and it can be game over. Arsenal found that to their cost last season.
There’s certainly an argument to be made that the domestic route rather than the European one, is Arsenal’s best chance of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.
Despite losing their opening two fixtures, the Gunners have bounced back and are 15/8 for a top-four finish.
Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea appear to have the top three spots locked up, but there’s a space going for fourth.
Both Manchester United and Tottenham have dropped points already this season.
The former continue to find ways to undo their good work, while Spurs are struggling to juggle a budgeted squad which lacks depth amid a move to their new stadium.
And with the top-six so much stronger than the rest of the pack, there’s a window for Arsenal to move in and snatch fourth place this season – and it might well be their best hope for Champions League football.
All Odds and Markets correct as of date of publication