This month marks four years since Arsenal last competed in the Champions League – a hammering at the hands of Bayern Munich in the Round of 16.
Since then, it has been four consecutive finishes between fifth and eighth in the Premier League, whilst we’re currently all the way down in 10th currently with 10 games to play.
Despite victory in the North London derby over the weekend, we’re 10 points off the top four, realistically needing to win all of our remaining games to qualify. Something we’re not likely to do.
The alternative route into the Champions League is via the Europa League where we are in the quarter-finals. Betway Wetten currently have us as second-favourites, behind only Premier League rivals Manchester United.
As great as it would be to get our hands on the trophy and a backdoor into next season’s Champions League, ultimately, we need to get back into the top four, and start challenging for the title once again.
The infographic below highlights the importance of spending to both reach Europe’s elite club cup competition and then progress in it.
Of the teams in this season’s Champions League, Chelsea were the biggest spenders. And despite sacking their manager during the campaign, they are now into the final eight, having eliminated La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid 3-0 on aggregate.
Manchester City are also in the quarter-finals and are Betway’s favourites to lift the trophy in May, with their odds narrowly shorter than holders Bayern Munich.
In order for us to be a top-four team next season, the board need to give the manager some money to spend over the summer. Here are three players I think would get us back on track:
- Idrissa Gueye
All of the top teams in the history of the Premier League have had an excellent holding midfielder. We once had Patrick Vieira. Chelsea had Claude Makelele when they rose to the top, Roy Keane was a rock for Manchester United for many years, and Leicester City had N’Golo Kante when they won the league.
Idrissa Gueye is in and out of the starting lineup at Paris Saint-Germain and has arguably accomplished everything he can at the club. He’s 31 now but with previous Premier League experience would be an instant upgrade in the middle of the park for us.
- Houssem Aouar
We have two strikers who can score goals in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette but not enough support. Particularly down the middle. Emile Smith Rowe has the potential to be that player but Houssem Aouar would be a ready-made playmaker.
The 22-year-old has been linked with a move away from Lyon for a couple of seasons now and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he leaves this summer. It would come as good Arsenal news if we were to land the youngster. As well as being excellent at creating chances, Aouar also scores goals.
- William Saliba
We splashed out £27 million on a centre-back in 2019 but he’s yet to play for us. William Saliba turns 20 later this month and is spending the second half of the season on loan at Nice in Ligue 1, where he already has a player of the month award to his name.
The French under-20 international spent half of last season on loan at St Etienne too so is gaining first-team experience. At this stage, he looks very talented in the French top-flight but with the mistakes we’ve seen from our defenders this season, he could easily slip into the back three next season.