Yet again, just like last season, it seems our season hinges on fourth spot.
After seasons of derision for claiming 4th place in the league represents an achievement in the Premier League, Arsene Wenger’s words seems true than ever before.
Last season saw the top three spots pretty much sewn up and left three teams fighting it out for that all-important fourth place. Ultimately, thanks to our own ineptitude after pretty much wrapping it up – we let it slip with a dismal run of results at the tail-end of the season.
It saw us granted another season of the Europa League, another season to rebuild.
Now, it is even more critical to our team to finish inside the top four.
We have a captain who has been stripped of the armband and wants away from the club.
We have two vice captains who are heavily linked with moves away from the club in order to fulfil their ambitions.
We have three teams who are storming ahead, leaving just one place up for grabs.
Our star players never signed up for season after season of missing out on the premiere European club competition. They believe their talent belongs on the biggest of stages, and they would be right to a degree.
The grand vision sold to them would have involved participation in the Champions League. If we face another season outside the top table in Europe, then it adds a far greater onus on our negotiating team to not only avoid getting fleeced by paying over the odds to keep players – but also simply to get them to sign at all.
Arsenal are coming to a crossroads.
A fourth consecutive campaign in the Europa League would see us almost certainly be perceived as also-rans, rather than be able to lure top talent to the club through our pedigree and reputation.
While it may be great to actually feel we have a chance to win the Europa League, even participation alone in the Champions League, forgetting any form of actually competing with teams, would inject plenty more into the coffers – money that the club banks on.
So we have players hanging on and waiting to see if we manage it before signing their contract extensions. We have our reputation hanging on by fingernails and we have a coach that could desperately do with returning us to where we once were.
No pressure Unai.