Arsenal legend Ian Wright has expressed his opinion that the current Arsenal squad are not capable of mounting a successful campaign in Europe, and should instead focus all their efforts on the Premier League (via the Metro). Speaking during an interview, the former striker went on to add that he would be hoping for Arsenal to get knocked out of the group stages when they face Dinamo Zagreb later on in the week.
Arsenal currently sit at the bottom of Group F, with only a single win in four games so far. After shock defeats against Dinamo Zagreb away and Olympiacos at home, the Gunners rekindled some hope with a hard-fought 2-0 victory against Bayern Munich at the Emirates. We were comprehensively dismantled in the reverse fixture however, and now need to win both of our remaining games by a large margin to stand any chance of securing second place in the group.
But even if we manage to pull off a minor miracle with the injury depleted squad, finishing second in the group would almost certainly guarantee a tough opponent in the Round of 16, meaning that our exploits in Europe would likely be very short lived. Wright believes that instead of devoting so much time to what appears to be a lost cause, Arsenal should instead try to solidify their position in the Premier League.
“I hope not [when asked if Arsenal can qualify for the Round of 16]. I want them to concentrate on the Premier League and I don’t think they will [qualify],” he said.
“If Zagreb get something [against Arsenal] they’ll be kicking on again and then we’ve got to beat Olympiacos.
“I’m not sure if Arsenal’s squad is strong enough to deal with a European campaign with the fact that they’re going for the Premier league – I don’t think the squad is strong enough to deal with that.”
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We have slipped down the table following our defeat to West Brom over the weekend, but are still well placed at this stage of the season. Assuming that the squad holds up, we have a strong platform to mount an all out title challenge that may yet prove successful. Competing on multiple fronts will massively increase the risks of injury however, and will almost certainly cause our campaign to crash and burn.
Ultimately, it is up to the manager to decide how much he wants to focus on different competitions. Hopefully he makes the right choices so that Arsenal can finally end their hunt for the elusive Premier League title. It’s obviously hard to know the best course of action without the benefit of hindsight, and there are positives and negatives to both outcomes. top players want to compete in the Champions League, and the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Özil are unlikely to be thrilled if we finish rock-bottom of the group. Winning the Premier League would obviously help them get over it, but that’s not a guarantee, regardless of our involvement in Europe this season.