Much of the damage from Arsenal’s catastrophic defeat at Newcastle on Monday night was instantly apparent, as players sunk to the St. James’ Park turf and first Granit Xhaka, then Mikel Arteta, issued scathing assessments. Last summer’s spree, when around £140m was spent on six players, was carried out with the aim of kickstarting Arteta’s rebuild, rather than qualifying for the Champions League. In challenging for the top four, the Gunners were ahead of schedule this term, and the feeling within the club is that playing Europa League football instead will not deter another window of significant investment and backing for Arteta, who signed a new long-term contract this month.
The 2022 Europa League final is set for Wednesday night but fans are already looking ahead to the Champions League.
Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers has backed Chelsea to be one of the Champions League’s leading forces next season. While Thomas Tuchel’s side were touted as potential rivals to Manchester City and Liverpool before the start of the season, the German has seen his Premier League title challenge collapse. Injuries to key players such as Ben Chilwell and Reece James came at the worst possible time and, more recently, the Chelsea boss has admitted all of the uncertainty hanging over the club amid their takeover saga was causing a distraction.