The Champions League, Europa League, and Conference League group stages start this week. It’s a stark reminder that Arsenal are out of European competition for the first time in 26 years. You really don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone — we were incredibly fortunate as a fan-base to get all those additional matches to watch, especially in the “top four trophy” days with 17 consecutive years in the CL.
It’s a bummer for fans. It’s arguably a bigger bummer for the club. There won’t be midweek matches to work on tactics. Or to score goals rack up wins to boost the confidence. Or to give minutes to younger players. That last one is particularly unfortunate because we’ll be denied the opportunity to see guys like Miguel Azeez and Charlie Patino do things like this against senior players.
The flip side is the reduced travel, fewer minutes for first-choice players, more time to train, focus on, and gameplan for Premier League opponents should help Mikel Arteta and Arsenal claim league points and hopefully get back into Europe next year.
I’m still going to watch the European competitions. And I’m going to enjoy them because I like watching quality football. But all season, they will also serve as reminder of how far Arsenal have fallen. That used to be our club. I think we’re moving in the right direction towards it being us again, but it man, it stings and it stinks.