first_img Arsene Wenger is in real danger of seeing his Champions League run come to an end 1 Despite a disappointing Premier League campaign for Arsenal, with one game to play the Gunners could yet secure a shot at the Champions League for a 20th year in a row.But missing out on fourth place could actually be a blessing in disguise for the North London club.Those 19 successive seasons of Champions League football represent remarkable consistency, second only to Real Madrid, with the Spanish club confirmed to play in the tournament for a 21st campaign in a row this autumn.But whereas Madrid have won the trophy five times during that run, with a sixth final to come this June, the Gunners have never won the Champions League, reaching just one final and one other semi-final.You’ve got to be in it to win it, but with seven consecutive last 16 exits to their name since 2010, Arsenal haven’t seriously looked like winning it for a long time.In the Premier League, meanwhile, Arsene Wenger’s team haven’t come close to winning the title since they last finished first, back in 2004.Something has to change if one of the biggest clubs in football is to kick on and claim the biggest trophies.And that something could be the end of Arsenal’s long run of Champions League football.The last two Premier League champions have been teams that didn’t have to contend with European competition.Granted, Arsenal would play in the Europa League if they finish fifth, but considering the Gunners helped pioneer the resting of key players in less significant competitions – allied with Arsene Wenger’s confidence in playing youngsters in the first team – there is every reason to believe they would rest their top talent on Thursday nights.That would mean the likes of Koscielny, Sanchez and Ozil getting a midweek breather, making them potentially fresher for key league games.Take earlier this season as an example, where that trio played against Tottenham, Ludogorets away in the Champions League, then Manchester United in the space of a week.A hard-fought away win in Europe was sandwiched by draws against Spurs and United – four dropped points that saw them go from joint top, four points clear of Chelsea, to fourth and level with the Blues.Even with the chance to rest players, there is a school of thought that with Arsene Wenger in charge things simply will not change at the Emirates Stadium; the Frenchman condemning the club to Groundhog Day, repeating the same season pattern, over and over.Yet missing out on the top four would break that pattern and, you would hope, force the people in charge to insist on meaningful change aimed at serious progression.Perhaps that would mean Arsene Wenger taking action himself to shake things up.It should certainly lead to those above him demanding change occurs, either with Wenger remaining as manager or by replacing him, if a suitable candidate be available.Either way, not qualifying for the Champions League would be a jolt to a system that has perhaps become too complacent.No fan wants to see their club fail and should Arsenal sneak in to fourth place again, there is always the dream that this time next year they will finally win the Champions League.But if the Gunners miss out, there is every reason for the club to seize the moment as a catalyst for positive change.last_img

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