BusinessYouthful Arsenal’s Lack Of European Experience Could Be Exposed

Youthful Arsenal’s Lack Of European Experience Could Be Exposed


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Wednesday’s match against PSV Eindhoven might feel unfamiliar to Arsenal. After all, it’s been six years since the Gunners last played in the Champions League. Since then, the North London club has been restricted to Europa League qualification. In the 2021/22 season, they missed out on European soccer altogether.

Mikel Arteta’s team have come a long way since then. Indeed, Arsenal unexpectedly pushed Manchester City all the way in last season’s Premier
League title race with Arteta determined to use that as a platform to achieve even more. Roughly £200m was spent on new signings, including Declan Rice, over the summer.

Arsenal’s drive to go one step further in the Premier League title race this season has been evident in the performances they have produced over the early part of the campaign. It is, however, more difficult to pin down what they want from their participation in the Champions League this season.

No team in the Premier League had a younger average age than Arsenal (24.4) last season. This was the culmination of a process led by Arteta to make his squad more nimble. He wanted a group of players he could mould in his own image as a coach and he got that. Arsenal are better for being young.

In the Champions League, though, experience is more valuable. Manchester City only managed to lift the trophy for the first time last season despite several seasons of being considered one of the best in Europe. It took City three seasons to simply qualify for the Champions League after the Abu Dhabi-backed takeover of the club in 2008.

Not many within Arsenal’s squad have experience of playing at the elite level of European club soccer, and those who do have collected that experience away from the Gunners – see Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko. It would be forgivable if Arsenal approach this season’s Champions League campaign with some naivety.

Of course, Arsenal boast a lot of high-level quality within their squad. They have also been handed a favourable group stage draw, landing in a group including Lens, PSV Eindhoven and Sevilla. The Gunners are widely expected to make the knockout rounds without suffering much adversity.

Beyond that, though, Arsenal might find a lack of experience stops them from going the distance. Arteta is an ambitious leader and he almost certainly wants the Gunners to make their mark on the Champions League before too long. But if he’s learned anything these past few years, it’s surely the value of process. Arsenal might have more of the process to go before they can conquer Europe.



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