Last month when Arsenal were knocked out of the Europa League, the Gunners fans were frustrated for missing out on a fantastic opportunity to lift a major trophy.
The Gunners lost to Portuguese outfit Sporting CP on penalties after drawing 3-3 on aggregate. In retrospect, it feels like a blessing in disguise.
Arsenal are heavily involved in an absorbing title race with Manchester City. Mikel Arteta’s side are leading the Premier League table by six points, although as SportsBuffer and other keen observers have noticed, City can close the gap to three points should they win their game in hand.
Both sides have got some tough fixtures at the business end of the season, and the title race can still take various twists and turns.
It’s important that Arteta gets all his key players fit and available in the closing stages of the season, and that’s why the Europa League exit could actually help them to focus on the title challenge.
On Thursday (13 April), Manchester United drew 2-2 with Sevilla. The manner in which they conceded the two goals despite taking a healthy lead would hurt them, but what will really hurt Erik ten Hag is the double injury blow to Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez.
The injury to Martinez appears to be serious. Arsenal also lost Takehiro Tomiyasu and William Saliba to injury during the second leg against Sporting and they’re paying a heavy price as a result.
Tomiyasu is out for the rest of the season while Saliba is still not fit enough to return to action. European knock-out games are demanding in nature and further injury blows could have ruined Arsenal’s title-winning dreams.
This is one way to look at things.
If Arsenal fail to lift the Premier League (Man City breathing down their neck) trophy – will this season be considered a success? No.
You can say Arteta’s side have made huge progress from where the Gunners were a few years ago, but it won’t be considered a successful campaign.
In fact, Liverpool’s previous season, where they finished runners-up in both the Premier League and the Champions League, is not seen as a big success despite the fact they won two domestic cups.
Winning trophies always breed hunger to win more, and that’s why you actually play this game. To win. Injuries are a part of the game and can happen anytime. Gabriel Jesus didn’t pick up his injury in the Europa League and neither did Marcus Rashford.
Big clubs have big squads to counter these problems, and the same applies to Arsenal. Even if they win the league, it will be down to their consistency and ability to perform under pressure – the alibi of injuries simply doesn’t count.
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