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How Arsenal’s defeat to Manchester City has handed them a massive Champions League blow

The Gunners may struggle to even make it out of the group stages next season

Arsenal qualified for the Champions League for the first time in five years despite losing 4-1 at the hands of Manchester City on Wednesday night, with Brighton’s 3-1 defeat to Nottingham Forest on the same evening now meaning that it is impossible for the Gunners to finish any lower than fourth place.

At the same time, however, they watched their title hopes evaporate as they were well beaten by Pep Guardiola’s side, courtesy of two goals from Kevin de Bruyne and one each from Erling Haaland and John Stones.

It means that Manchester City close the gap on the league leaders to just two points, while the Cityzens also have two games in hand, which would put them four points clear of Arsenal should they take maximum points.

It leaves Arsenal facing the prospect of finishing the Premier League season second, still a massive success for a club many wrote off for even getting into the top four at the beginning of the campaign, but not what they had hoped for having lead the pack for most of the season.

There is a more concerning knock-on effect too, with regards to the Champions League.

Group of death incoming?

For the upcoming Champions League season, Mikel Arteta’s side could find themselves as low as pot 3 for the draw, which would give them several tricky ties to navigate in the first part of next season.

So, as it stands, Manchester City, Paris Saint Germain, Napoli, Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund/Bayern Munich and Feyenoord will join the winners of the Champions League and the Europa League in pot 1.

Beyond that, it is weighted by European co-efficient, which sees Arsenal currently sitting 23rd in UEFA’s rankings thanks to having missed out on the Champions League in recent seasons.

Ahead of them lie Real Madrid, Ajax, Atletico Madrid, Porto, Juventus, Inter Milan and RB Leipzig, along with English rivals Manchester United, which could leave them on the cusp of pot two and three, depending on the final season-run in.

It could mean that Arsenal, who will certainly play one of the European giants from pot 1, could also find themselves playing another European giant from pot 2 before they even begin thinking about qualifying for the knockout stages.


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Ben Browning

Football writer and analyst. Long-time writer of all things Arsenal and avid watcher of European football. Happy to discuss all things football over on Twitter.

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