For all the talk of the Premier League being the world’s best league, this week’s Champions League and Europa League action proved to be nightmares for both Arsenal and Tottenham.
Arsenal were not just beaten by Bayern Munich in their last 16 Champions League fixture, the Gunners were humiliated. After drawing level just before halftime through – surprise, surprise – Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal completely fell apart. Arsene Wenger’s side proceeded to give up four unanswered goals after halftime as the team completely capitulated.
The tie turned out to be the European coming out party of Bayern’s Thiago Alcantara. A player so much as been promised from over the years, Alcantara finally showed everyone what the fuss has been about. Two goals from two shots plus an assist saw the Spaniard pick up man of the match honours.
Like Arsenal’s Premier League title hopes, the Champions League is all but over. Arsenal’s side is far less talented than Bayern’s and the team lack the firepower to stand up to the Germans in the return leg.
Not surprising, the shock Arsenal fans are once again calling for Wenger’s head. It seems like every season fans want him to go around this time, only to see the Frenchman stay.
Tottenham on the other hand, were expected to blow through Belgium and defeat Gent. That didn’t happen and the Belgian underdogs knocked off the so-called superior Spurs. The 1-0 scoreline is not one that Tottenham cannot overcome. Yet, the club have once again put themselves in a difficult situation.
If there is one team with the potential to fall out of the top three right now, it is Spurs. Mauricio Pochettino’s side are playing on three fronts and with them just being manhandled by Liverpool in the Premier League, Spurs must prioritise one competition over the others.
Spurs run the risk of spreading themselves too thin and falling out of the top four, a competition in itself that means just as much as winning the Europa League. Meanwhile, it means far more in 2017 than winning the FA Cup.
The Premier League still has 13 gameweeks to go before a new champion is crowned. Both Arsenal and Tottenham have the chance to qualify for the Champions League again. Arsenal’s attempt at the Champions League trophy looks finished and the team need a miracle at the Emirates.
Spurs have a fighting chance and can just as easily turn things around back in London.
However, both now turn their attention to the FA Cup this weekend. Spurs play a feisty Fulham side at Craven Cottage. Arsenal’s challengers, National League South side Sutton United, are a world away from the Allianz Arena in Munich. But with the week Wenger’s Arsenal have had, it could be a difficult journey. On paper, Arsenal should put away Sutton United in the opening 30 minutes. But reality is never as straightforward as plans on paper.