Arsenal travel to Switzerland to face FC Basel in their final game of the group fixtures. Having already qualified, the Gunners need to better PSG's results at Ludogorets to finish top of group A. The North London team's qualification makes it their 17th consecutive time of qualifying from the group stages since they failed to do so in the 1999/2000 season.
But in recent years, Arsenal's qualification from the group stages has been the beginning of the end.
In the past six seasons, the Gunners have failed consecutively to make it past the Round of 16 and while the club reached the final of the 2006 competition, they have only reached the semi-final and quarter-final stages on three occasions since then.
|Since Their Finals Appearance In 2006, The Gunners Have Past The R16 Stages Three Times|
The necessity of finishing at least fourth in the league should not be a priority for Arsenal.
"There is competition in the league and it is becoming harder hence the need to prioritize the Premier League" is a common narrative among Arsenal fans. Arsenal would qualify for the Champions League even with all their key players out. Wenger has taken his team to the Europe's top prize competition 19 times consecutively and has more than sufficient experience in navigating any side to the competition.
|Arsenal Have Failed To Make It Past The Round Of 16 In Six Consecutive Seasons|
The French man annually has a team to compete and not to win. He spreads his risk across four different competitions hoping one does him good. An early Europe exit allows him to "focus" and "chase" a league title that has become a kite in a whirlwind.
Chelsea, Man City, and in my opinion, Liverpool have better chances of winning the league this season than Arsenal. The Gunners' best chance of winning the league was last season but somehow were unable to capitalize on all top sides struggling.
This is not to say I'm ruling them out, they just don't have quality bodies to help them this season. The Gunners have added to their squad but for some strange reason, their bench options have not been quality or have had average performances this season.
There are 24 more games to go in the league and after today's match against Basel, 7 possible games for Arsenal in the UCL. Of course, the latter is miles ahead in quality but it represents Arsenal's best chance of "big" trophy win.
Alexis Sanchez is capable of dragging his team through 7 games than through 24 without burnout. You determine your own luck in the Champions League and Arsenal are more than capable to mix luck and brilliance to a final finish.
|Alexis Sanchez Has Been Arsenal's Star Man This Season|
Next season, Arsenal would celebrate 20 consecutive qualifications to the Champions League, it is a pity that their performances in the league doesn't guarantee them a title finish, but a means to an end, a possible eight round of 16 end if they Wenger does not become strategic.