After a wholly unexpected 2015-16 season, it seems that the status quo has been restored to the Premier League. That is, with one notable exception: for the first time in 20 years, Arsenal won’t be playing in the UEFA Champions League. The lack of European football at the Emirates could have huge implications on next season, and what punters should expect.
While there’s little question that the Champions League is the most prestigious club competition in the world, it must also be noted that the tournament can draw a big tax on the competing teams. The high-caliber competition can add a lot of extra strain (and opportunity for injury) to some of the best teams in Europe. Sometimes, being able to compete free from the distraction of European soccer can translate to domestic success for clubs.
For an example, look no further than the current Premier League champions, Chelsea. After an uncharacteristic 10th place finish, the Blues were in a similar position to where Arsenal currently sit, on the outside looking in at the UCL. With the arrival of Antonio Conte and the single-minded focus on the Premier League, Chelsea swiftly reasserted its dominance over English football. Now the team looks nigh on unstoppable, and they could be even better next year.
The last time Arsenal won a league title was during the legendary 2003-04 season, to date the only unbeaten campaign in Premier League history. Since then, Arsenal has consistently placed in the top four, but has failed to seal the deal. Perhaps being free of the stress of the Champions League could provide an opportunity for Arsenal to hoist its first Premier League trophy in more than 13 years. They’ll need some kind of success if manager Arsène Wenger hopes to keep his job. Calls for his head have been louder than ever, and anything short of more silverware will surely see this season end with Wenger being shown the door. The club might have signed a two-year extension with Wenger, but if one thing is sure about professional sports, it’s that contracts were made to be broken.
The summer transfer season will be key to Arsenal’s potential victory, both in bringing in new talent and convincing players to stay. Alexis Sanchez has proven himself as one of the most talented strikers in the Premier League. The Chilean forward scored 24 goals with another 10 assists last season, and is indispensable to Arsenal’s winning form. It will be imperative that Wenger keeps Sanchez on board while further bolstering the team with new additions if he hopes to bring the Gunners back to Premier League glory.
The top of the table is more competitive than we’ve seen in some time and Arsenal will look to once again cement their place at the top. With so many teams jockeying for league dominance, it can be challenging to learn who has the best chances of a title. Fans can find all the top events’ odds online while learning more about online betting markets, games, strategies, and more. With articles covering overall leagues and individual games, punters can quickly educate themselves on what they need to make the right choice. It’s going to be a long summer before the Premier League starts up again on 12 August, but with the proper research, any fan should be able to take an educated shot at predicting the next champion.
This season should serve as a wake up call for Arsenal. The lack of European football will surely shake the apathy from Wenger and a front-office that became all too complacent with a consistent top-four finish. FA Cup victories are great, but they’re not going to bring the same money to the club as a berth in the Champions League. It will be fascinating to see how the club reacts, and this could make for one of the most exciting Premier League seasons in quite some time.