With their fixture against Manchester United just round the corner, Arsenal find themselves in a third spot battle. Champions League football at stake, the London club’s losses could be costly if they don’t finish the season strong.
The beginning of a decline
Scoring 29 goals in five of their opening fixtures, the Gunners started the season with a bang. Fine form, magnificent play and high spirits, Arsenal looked to be trophy contenders for the 20/21 season.
The club that handed them their first defeat is now the same club fighting it out with them for third place. Casey Stoney’s side pulled off a 1-0 win at home to Arsenal in November. A result that may come back to haunt them come May.
On a plate
Next season’s UWCL will feature a 16-team group stage for the first time. The teams who finish in the top three in the Women’s Super League this year will qualify.
Fans of Arsenal were satisfied at the news, thinking that a top three finish would be imminent for their usually triumphant club. But, between their substandard form and Man United’s unexpected dominance, it has proven more difficult than anticipated.
To make matters worse, they could lose vital players and funding if they fail to make the grade.
Arsenal striker Vivianne Miedema is a player of the highest calibre. The all-time leading goal scorer for her country, the Netherlands.
A player of such quality and value is a player that should be a regular in the Champions League. With the Olympics and European Championships slowly creeping in, the Dutch star will want to be displaying her best football.
With her currently being the WSL’s leading goal scorer this season, her contributions to Arsenal are key to their success. But with their run of weak performances and often compared forward, Pernille Harder finding her feet and the net, the 24-year-old may begin to look elsewhere to flourish.
The women’s game needs all the financial support it can get. Success in competition is an ‘easy’ way for clubs to rack in some cash. Prize money in the Champions League is of course not on par with their male counterparts, but it’s a start.
The winners receive a huge €250,00 prize amount, the losing finalists just 50,000 less.
The Gunners sailed their way through to Spain last year for the quarterfinals where they faced PSG. Unfortunate to be going into the match unfit, they lost 2-1 and headed home with a €25,000 cheque. Now, if Arsenal had been on a regular playing schedule and at their top form, they could’ve been in that final. Winners or not, ten times more money than they left with is a big difference.
All or nothing
That is why it is vital that they regroup, and pull themselves out of the rut they have found themselves in. Every game is a must-win from now on, especially their arriving fixture against United. A three point leverage over The Red Devils would be a big step towards European football.
Their goal-machine, financial gain, and most importantly their status. It’s all on the line in a couple of weeks’ time.