We want more than a Europa League win, Unai
OPINION: Arsenal fans shouldn’t be getting angry about not beating Chelsea in Azerbaijan, they should be furious about being unable to beat Brighton home, and getting whopped by Wolves and Leicester
30 May, 2019 — By Richard Osley
Arsenal boss Unai Emery
DON’T get too angry about Arsenal losing the Europa League final to Chelsea.
Both Arsenal and Chelsea fans talked about what an awful competition it was when Spurs were playing in it. There’s no use pretending now it’s some mighty achievement to win the forgettable Thursday night league. Not if you’ve spent the amount of money that Chelsea have over the past decade, at least.
This is, after all, a contest whose finalists have included Werder Bremen, Dnipro and Fulham over the years.
UEFA added to the feeling that the whole charade is a waste of energy by playing the thing in Baku, as if to hand fans a ready-made excuse for not having to go and watch the final.
No, the aim should never be trying to win the Europa League, it’s basement, and it always looks odd when you see players from so-called big clubs celebrating wildly or crying tears over it.
The only sensible course of action is to withdraw from next year’s competition and concentrate fully on trying to get into the top four places in the Premier League, which, as we saw in the final weeks of season, was open to anybody who was able to win a single match.
Unai Emery has plus points and negatives, but, beyond being able to corral any order in a back line which still needs to find true heirs to Adams, Bould and Keown, his obsession with the Europa League may reveal the contrast between his own ambitions and that of the fans. We want more.
I could not care less if Arsenal win the Europa League, but Emery, who won it three times in a row with Seville, treats it like a life goal to win it at least 10 times.
In truth, we shouldn’t be getting angry about not beating Chelsea in Azerbaijan, we should be furious about being unable to beat Brighton home, and getting whopped by Wolves and Leicester. Get angry about Crystal Palace. Get angry about being unable to keep an away clean sheet hardly anywhere. What use is a team that can take on Napoli and Valencia, but struggles when they play away at Southampton?
And that’s where the silliness of this week’s final may have a silver lining. This worthless trophy is now not there to mask how bad the defensive personnel and strategy has been week in, week out.
Winning may have provided an excuse not to do what needs to be done: the clear out of tired players, a sober analysis of whether Mesut Ozil is worth his contract and the recruitment of a new wave of players that have zip, fire and pace.
Liverpool and Spurs showed the latter was possible when they weren’t playing in the Champions League. With no Europa get-out clause, Arsenal should do the same.