Arsenal decided it was too early for the Champions League
A week ago, Arsenal fans were nervously rubbing their hands: their favorite team had settled in fourth place and was close to a return to the Champions League, where the Canaries have not made it since the 2016/17 season. Then Arsenal won the group against PSG, Ludogorets and Basel, but met their favorite exemplar in the 1/8 finals. “Bayern” won 10-2 on the sum of the two matches. Such is Arsenal’s last memory of the Champions League.
And no new ones are in sight yet. Even after last week’s resounding defeat to Tottenham, Arsenal continued to hold the fate of fourth place in their hands. And as is often the case with insecure boys, great value slipped from their sweaty palms at the last moment. The fatal defeat came against Newcastle, who played better from a position of strength. Even Mikel Arteta, who put on a loser’s face long before the final whistle, acknowledged this:
“Newcastle deserved to win, they were much stronger. We couldn’t do anything. We didn’t hold the ball well, we were worse in every way. Yes, there were a lot of things in the match, even substitutions because of injuries, but that’s no excuse. We could not show the game we had to. We tried to change our game, but it did not bear fruit. “Newcastle were an order of magnitude better, and that’s disappointing. Our game was very far from what it takes to qualify for the Champions League. I’m very sorry, it’s a very painful defeat. Before this round, we were in control of the situation, but now everything has changed. However, soccer is always capable of giving at least a minimum chance.
Arsenal have de facto deprived themselves of the Champions League
“The “minimum chance” that Arteta talks about looks paltry to the point of ridiculousness. Before the final round of the AFL, the “Canaries” are 2 points behind Tottenham. In this case, “Spurs” will play with the worst team of the season – “Norwich”, which has long ago ensured itself a ticket to the Championship, while “Arsenal” will fight with “Everton”. The threat of relegation will probably weigh on Frank Lampard’s team until the end, so the Toffees will fight desperately.
So, Arsenal only need a win in the match with Everton. Any other result will leave the Canaries in fifth place. In this case, we need Tottenham to lose to Norwich. A draw will not satisfy Antonio Conte’s team only if Arsenal beat Everton by 16 goals or more. Soccer is unpredictable and rich in bright plots, but for the wayward stars to come together like this for Arsenal in the last round… It takes an extraordinary dose of luck for such an unlucky team.
The Canaries have made progress compared to previous seasons
If we move away from the momentary disappointment that undoubtedly dominates the hearts of the Canaries after two defeats with a total score of 0:5, depriving Arsenal of a place in the top 4, we should note the progress of Mikel Arteta’s team compared to previous seasons, when they occupied the eighth place, scoring 56 and 61 points. Now they have 66 points in the round before the end of the championship. The Canaries are guaranteed fifth place, which means their return to European competition is certain, albeit with Europa League games.
On the other hand, recent history has taught us to be wary of applying the traditional soccer laws and logic to Arsenal. Improved results in a single season does not mean that the development will continue, especially since it was a campaign without the European Cup, and Arsenal quickly parted with the national cup tournaments. Mikel Arteta’s team was fully focused on the Premier League, all the strength and all the attention was thrown to this tournament.
Arsenal was fully focused on getting into the Champions League, there was a big bet on that, but it does not seem to play, and it will affect the immediate prospects. The Champions League is not just about money, but also the lure of strong players who can take the team to the next level. Not being in the top 4, Arsenal remain in their tired reality, where the defender Ben White, bought for 60 million euros, scores an auto-goal, depriving the team of a ticket to the Champions League.
Jekyll and Hyde. Arsenal still hasn’t decided what it wants to be
Coming to the end of the season was the perfect chance for Mikel Arteta to prove himself. The Spaniard has interesting ideas, but is too slow to implement them, so a gentle schedule over the course of the season contributed to successful stretches that alternated with series of failures. Remember how Arsenal started the season with three losses by a combined score of 0-9, and then won three games in a row.
In the fall, the results alternated, they made a good run in December, when they won five wins in a row in all competitions, scoring 19 goals in those matches, but in the January five games scraped together only one goal, four times saved the rivals’ goal in the inviolability. In February and March, Arsenal had a winning streak of five in the APL, only to lose consecutively to Crystal Palace, Brighton and Southampton.
Then there were four more wins on the eve of losses to Tottenham and Newcastle. If Arsenal are doing too well, then things are about to get very bad. It’s the sign of an immature team, which the Canaries are: one match they attack and finish off the opponent beautifully, the next it seems that these players have come together for the first time, today they play for fun, and tomorrow they can mix the last half hour of the match with anti-football, time stalling and injury simulation. Very much wanted, but so far they haven’t made it to the top 4 of the APL.