Two Minute Warning
“This is the year that has caught up with Arsenal”
Despite reclaiming some pride in the second-leg win at Bayern Munich, Arsenal’s Champions League exit and the real threat that they could fail to qualify for next season’s tournament has left an uneasy feeling around the Emirates. And their battle for a top-four finish hasn’t exactly been helped by the news that midfield lynchpin Jack Wilshere will miss the next few weeks through injury. The Life’s a Pitch team assess the Gunners’ prospects.
“I’m not sure they’ll be in [the Champions League] next season,” says the Guardian’s Dominic Fifield. “It would take maybe the wobble that started with Spurs at Anfield at the weekend being prolonged, and sucking them back out, or Chelsea’s fixture pile-up becoming just too onerous for them to deal with. I don’t think either of those things will happen. This is the year that [it] has caught up with them – the policy of selling their best players.”
The impending absence of arguably their best player, Wilshere, demands that Santi Cazorla, Lukas Podolski and Theo Walcott take on extra responsibility, says footballer-turned-journalist Adrian Clarke. ”Wilshere is the one player who just makes a difference. He’s got the X-factor: he can spring attacks from anywhere on the pitch because he breaks the line, he runs with the ball. Without him, Arsenal have too many players that are the same – they pass the ball around really nicely, but they don’t always penetrate. Jack Wilshere is that one guy that penetrate defences. In his absence the likes of Cazorla, Podolski and Walcott are really going to have to step up to the plate.”
Much has been made of the failure of an English team to reach the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time since 1996. Gunners boss Arsène Wenger has said this should be a “wake-up call” for English clubs and the Sunday Mirror’s David Walker agrees. “We do kid ourselves about the diet of Premier League football and how good it is – and how outstanding our best teams are in relation to the rest of Europe. The question mark has been answered: our club sides are not outstanding.”
Watch the full video discussion by clicking on the play button in the image above.
Follow Life’s a Pitch on Twitter @BTLifesaPitch
Watch Arsenal live on BT Vision:
Arsenal v Man Utd, 4pm, 28 April, Sky Sports 1
Don’t have BT Vision? Find out how to get it