Why Arsenal could end up starting their season 11 days after the 2018 World Cup final

Daniel Orme
The Independent
Why Arsenal could end up starting their season 11 days after the 2018 World Cup final
Why Arsenal could end up starting their season 11 days after the 2018 World Cup final

Arsenal could potentially begin their 2018/19 season only 11 days after the World Cup final in Russia.

The Gunners currently sit in sixth position in the Premier League table following their 2-1 defeat to Newcastle United on Sunday afternoon. As it stands, they will qualify for the Europa League group stages if Southampton do not win the FA Cup.

Manchester City did qualify by winning the EFL Cup but as a result of their league position, pass to their Europa League entry to the league.

However, if Arsenal were to drop below Burnley, who are only two points behind Arsene Wenger’s side with five games left to play, they could be set for a place in the second-qualifying round of the competition.

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This round of the competition begins on the 26th July 2018, with the 2018 World Cup final scheduled only 11 days earlier on the 15th July.

Intriguingly, Burnley FC and Arsenal come together on the 6th May at the Emirates Stadium and a defeat could see the Gunners consigned to the qualifying rounds of the competition, whilst the Clarets will enter in the group stage.

Sean Dyche’s team have been in exquisite form and have averaged more points per game over the last 10 games than the Gunners, 1.8 compared to 1.5. That alone could see the Gunners drop to seventh.

Wenger could be without the majority of his squad for the qualifying rounds with most players to be given extended breaks after the tournament. Key players such as Mesut Ozil, Hector Bellerin, Alexandre Lacazette and Laurent Koscielny, amongst others, will all likely be missing.

Should Arsenal not make the group stages, it would be the first time that they have failed to qualify for Europe under Wenger.

No European football next campaign would compound what has been a miserable season for the Gunners. The failure to assemble a real title challenge, exit in the third round of the FA Cup to Nottingham Forest, and a joint record for most league defeats under Wenger with 11 has seen the Gunners flounder.

There is however some optimism for Arsenal. If they manage to win the Europa League, they will automatically qualify for the Champions League next season. A tough challenge though stands in the form of Atletico Madrid.

The Gunners take on the Spaniards at the Emirates Stadium on the 26th May at the Emirates Stadium, with the return leg at the Wanda Metropolitano the following week.

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