Arsenal need to win the Europa League to gloss over
Arsenal need to win the Europa League to gloss over their failure to secure a top-four spot this season… Unai Emery is desperate to put down a marker in the post-Wenger era and this final is the club’s biggest game in years
- Arsenal are days away from playing the biggest game in their recent history
- Preparations for their Europa League final with Chelsea will ramp up this week
- A win in Baku will gloss over their disappointing failure to secure top-four spot
- The final has given them a lifeline for Champions League football next season
- Winning it will also put a marker down in the post-Wenger era for Unai Emery
The countdown is on to one of the biggest games in Arsenal’s recent history.
Preparations for next Wednesday’s Europa League final will ramp up this week at Arsenal and Chelsea.
It will be an important night for Chelsea and manager Maurizio Sarri.
Arsenal are over a week away from playing the biggest game in the club’s recent history
The Italian’s future is uncertain but with a European trophy as well as a third place finish from his first season in charge, his case to remain in charge at Stamford Bridge will be even stronger.
Yet for Arsenal it is arguably even bigger.
So much is riding on the outcome of the all-London Premier League showdown for Arsenal’s present, future and boss Unai Emery.
For the third campaign running the Gunners have finished outside the top four, failing to secure Champions League football via their league position as a result.
The Europa League final has given them a lifeline for Champions League football next season
A win in Baku for the Gunners will gloss over their disappointing failure to secure top-four spot
This season, though, reaching the Europa League final has given them a lifeline.
Victory at the Olympic Stadium would do wonders for Emery.
Most importantly he would secure that all important return to Europe’s top competition, an achievement that would put a totally different slant on his first season in charge at the Emirates.
It has not been a terrible one as he has attempted to find his feet in north London.
Replacing Arsene Wenger after 22 years was never going to be an easy task for his successor.
There have been signs of improvement and that Arsenal are heading in the right direction, like the league position and points tally, both improved under the Spaniard.
Arsene Wenger fell short in the Europa League semi-finals last year, losing to Atletico Madrid
Wenger fell short in the Europa League semi-finals last year too while Emery has taken the Gunners one step further.
But, at the same time, some of the frailties that were evident under Wenger have been harder to eradicate.
The failure to secure a top-four spot, especially in a season when all the candidates appeared to be going out of their way to give their rivals the initiative, was a disappointment.
That a defeat to Crystal Palace and draw against Brighton, both at home where they had previously been so reliable, cost them was especially galling.
A disappointing draw against Brighton at home saw Arsenal fail to secure a top-four spot
Beat Chelsea in Baku and that can all be glossed over.
It would also put a marker down in the post-Wenger era and provide some tangible evidence that Emery’s way is the right way.
What Emery can do in the transfer market this summer is also dependent on what happens in Azerbaijan’s capital city.
As it stands he is set to start the transfer window with budget of around £45m.
That doesn’t get you much in today’s market and Emery has big plans for this transfer window, with a left-winger, left-back, central defender and Aaron Ramsey replacement his top priorities.
Player sales will help boost his kitty, and Arsenal have a few players they are keen to offload, but so too will Champions League football.
Emery knows what it takes to win the Europa League, having won it three times with Sevilla
It will make Arsenal a more attractive prospect to their transfer targets too, such as Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha who has been open about his hopes of playing in the Champions League.
Emery, of course, knows what it takes to win the Europa League, having won it three seasons running with Sevilla.
A fourth victory would have much bigger implications than just winning the trophy on the night.
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