Winter break, international break, summer break — they all stink. Even though it’s been a mere 12 days since Arsenal drew Burnley 0-0, it feels like months have passed since the Gunners last took the pitch. Fortunately for us, that ends on Sunday when the club welcomes Newcastle to the Emirates.
Sunday begins what I’m going to call a determined grind to the end of the season. The Gunners are still alive in the FA Cup, have the Europa League knockout rounds beginning next week, and still have plenty of work to do in the Premier League. They’ve got a lot to play for.
In my mind, the most important thing the team can accomplish is getting into the Europa League places for next season. While it might seem nice to be able to focus on the Premier League to go all out for a Champions League place in the 2020-21 season, I don’t think Arsenal can take the financial hit. Europa League qualification and participation brings with it a not insignificant amount of money, and the Gunners need reinforcements in the summer window. Transfers cost money, and it took some maneuvering to make them happen last summer. And that was with Europa League money.
Of course, Arsenal still have a shot to get back to the Champions League this season, but I’m not pinning my hopes on that just yet. While things have improved under Mikel Arteta, the side has work to do, namely in the actually winning matches department, before I get too excited. While winning the FA Cup would be great, it comes a distant third in my rankings of what Arsenal should focus on through May.
So I ask you, what does a successful final three months of the season look like? What does Arsenal need to accomplish for you to be satisfied with this year or has that ship already sailed?