Premier League plans for the final two games of the season could prove disruptive for any potential Europa League final preparations.
The BBC report that the Premier League are hoping to have supporters in stadiums for the final two rounds of the season. However, fans aren’t allowed in until Monday, 17th May at the earliest, with the final game of the campaign that Sunday.
As a result, the only way to squeeze an extra round of fan-attended matches in would be to play in midweek. The PL are reportedly planning a round of fixtures between Tuesday, 18th May, and Thursday, 20th May.
The problem is that the Europa League final is scheduled for the following Wednesday. This means that the best-case scenario is a run of games on Tuesday, Sunday, and Wednesday. The worst-case is Thursday-Sunday-Wednesday, three matches in six days.
If Arsenal make it to the final (still a huge ‘if’ at this stage), are they really going to take the Sunday fixture against Brighton seriously? They couldn’t possibly pick the same team for all three games.
More likely, Mikel Arteta would have to name a heavily-rotated side for the first match back with fans in the stands, which would be rather anticlimactic.
Not only would the team have little time for physical recovery, but they’d also have almost no time to focus on preparations for the final itself. At best, they’ll have two days to give it their undivided attention.
It’s not just Arsenal either, as Tottenham Hotspur or Manchester United could also make the final. Perhaps two of the three will face off against each other.
As usual, the English footballing authorities don’t seem to have any interest in making sure their teams have the best preparation for European matches. That’s always the lowest priority.