Arsenal’s Champions League Chances for Next Season

Arsenal's Champions League chances
Arsenal Team shoot during UEFA Europa League Group H match between Arsenal and BATE Borisov at The Emirates , London 7 Dec 2017 (Photo by Kieran Galvin/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The team is sitting in a distant sixth-place in the table and have a long road to reach the Europa League final, so what are Arsenal’s Champions League chances for next year?

Could next season see the Gunners return to the world’s most prestigious club competition? Or will the club return to the continent via the Europa League?

Arsenal’s Champions League Chances for Next Season

Top Four Finish

Arsenal’s Champions League chances normally hinge on a fourth-place finish in the table. However, as of the time of writing, they sit five points off of fourth and would need to surpass two clubs to secure it.

Manchester City’s and Manchester United’s places in the next edition of the Champions League are all-but affirmed, especially with the arrival of Alexis Sanchez at Old Trafford.

Therefore, four clubs are in contention for the final two spots; Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal.

After the Gunners beat the Eagles 4-1 over the weekend, the North London rivals are only three points apart. With the second North London Derby set for 10 February, Arsenal have a decent chance of surpassing their bitter rivals.

Such a feat would take consistency for the balance of the season, something the team has been short of, especially away from home. The impending arrivals of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, however, will hopefully remedy these woes.

Unfortunately, surpassing either Chelsea or Liverpool in the table would take a higher degree of luck. Arsenal have met both the Blues and the Reds twice in the league already.

That means it would take a run of torrid form from either rival in order for the Gunners to leap-frog them. It would also take, as mentioned earlier, consistent performances from Arsenal to overtake either.

This difficulty is likely why the odds of a top-four finish seem dim for Arsenal, at least according to the SPI odds.

Arsenal's Champions League chances

The Gunners are still in the hunt, according to these metrics, but have just a 21% chance of fourth.

No doubt the signing of Mkhitaryan will help, as would the potential arrival of Aubameyang, however, the team faces a steep climb back into relevance.

Europa League

Arsenal’s Champions League chances might, just like the Red Devils last year, come down to the Europa League. Regardless of league finish, other than relegation, the winner of the Europa League qualifies for the Champions League.

The Gunners will meet Östersunds FK in the round of 32 in February, a clash which they should win. However, the spectres of Atletico Madrid, Napoli and Borussia Dortmund lurk in the later stages of the competition.

More than likely Arsenal’s road to the trophy would lead through one, or possibly more, of these opponents. Once more, the team would have to do so without one potential signing, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

The Gabon striker’s arrival is certainly not set in stone, at least as of the time of writing, however, seems somewhat likely. If the move gets done, Arsenal would be ham-stringed by UEFA Europa League rule 43.02,

“One player from the above quota of three who has been fielded in a UEFA club
competition group stage match for another club in the current season may
exceptionally be registered, provided that the player has not been fielded:
a. in the same competition for another club; or
b. for another club that is currently in the same competition”

As of the time of writing, SPI predicts that Arsenal have a 12% chance of winning the trophy. Atletico Madrid are current favourites in this regard, with a 14% chance.

Therefore, through either the Premiership or the Europa League, Arsenal’s Champions League chances for next season are not very high.

What if They Miss the Champions League?

Certainly a less prestigious competition, as fans have learned this campaign, however, the Gunners may have to settle for the Europa League again next year. Apart from finishing fifth in the league table, there are a few other avenues to the Europa League.

England is one of the few federations with two cup competitions, with UEFA granting the winners of both a Europa League berth. If the winners are already qualified, the berth is given to a high-table finisher.

So, for example, if the winners of both the FA and Carabao Cups are already qualified for Europe, then both the sixth and seventh-placed teams in the league would take their place.

Theoretically, the sixth-placed team would take the FA Cup winner’s place and the seventh-placed team would take the Carabao Cup winner’s place.

Should Arsenal’s Champions League chances prove too tough to overcome, odds are good they would return to the Europa League.

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