Arsenal’s best route back into the Champions League
Needless to say, the FA Cup third round weekend hasn't been the happiest for us Arsenal fans, has it? We are a club with a proud record in this competition which has featured three trophies over the past four years, but all of which surrendered to the Nottingham Forest Championship team on Sunday, and it […]

Needless to say, the FA Cup third round weekend hasn't been the happiest for us Arsenal fans, has it? We are a club with a proud record in this competition which has featured three trophies over the past four years, but all of which surrendered to the Nottingham Forest Championship team on Sunday, and it could now be a long second half of the season for us artillerymen.

Of course we remain in the EFL Cup where we have to play Chelsea in the semi-final tomorrow night, but maybe a more favorable comeback among the best European teams could be found elsewhere. Could the Europa League still propel Arsenal into the continent's elite competition.

Days in Europe

Manchester United and their coach Jose Mourinho had no qualms about taking the more roundabout route to Champions League football last season. The Red Devils finished far from the top four places in the Premier League, but victory over Ajax in the final was enough to see them ramp up.

Online sports betting has Arsenal at 500/1 in their Premier League betting market therefore clearly a more likely target is the Europa League where the Gunners are second-favorites 6/1 behind Atletico Madrid.

The next step for Wenger's men as the competition reaches the round of 16 is a draw with Ostersund and many experts believe Arsenal got the most favorable draw of them all. The Swedish squad was formed as recently as 1996 and the Gunners are set to advance to the next round, but aside from Atleti's obvious claims, who sits between Arsenal and European glory?

Competition

Borussia Dortmund were due out of their Champions League squad and Gunners fans were said to have been unhappy to see rivals Tottenham Overcome the opposition and take the place of the Germans. Dortmund now move on to the Europa League where they are third-favorites to lift the trophy at the end of the season.

The Italian trio of AC Milan, Napoli and Lazio follow but these are distant options with many pundits believing that the 2018 Europa League essentially comes down to a battle between Arsenal and Atletico Madrid.

Approach

Arsenal have started their Europa League campaign on a strong footing, recording three consecutive wins against Cologne, BATE Borisov and Red Star Belgrade to establish a lead at the top of their group. With qualification almost certain, Wenger began to tinker with the starting XI and the Gunners went through their remaining matches instead, drawing with Red Star and losing to Cologne. before beating BATE 6-0 in the last game.

Now the manager must decide where his priorities lie for the rest of 2017/18 and while Arsenal are still active in three competitions, their FA Cup elimination makes the decision a bit easier.

Towards the end of last season, Jose Mourinho effectively conceded the Top Four race by fielding inexperienced teams in the last EPL games. as he made the Europa League a priority. Arsenal are not yet at this stage, but after 22 games they are five points behind Liverpool who are in last place in the Champions League.

Mourinho's bet paid off and Arsène Wenger could soon be faced with the same decision; whether to aim for Europa League glory as the most likely route to appease supporters and qualify for the Champions League at the same time.


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