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Arsenal or Chelsea: Who needs the Europa League more?

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London's Revival

The Europa League, European football’s second tier. A joke amongst many fans of those whose clubs are not participating in the tournament, yet it could prove to be the most vital piece of silverware for either Arsenal or Chelsea if they find their way to victory.

Both sides are going through periods of transition, with Unai Emery still clearing out some of the dust left behind by Arsene Wenger’s twenty-two year reign, while Maurizio Sarri continues his attempts to simply control his dressing room and implement his style of play in the Chelsea players’ heads.

Neither of these teams look certain, or particularly likely, to finish in the top four of the Premier League come May, as Manchester United’s unbeaten run in domestic competition appears to be everlasting, whereas the pair in 5th and 6th position endure surprising defeats and missed opportunities.

So, who needs the Europa League trophy more? Would it be more beneficial to The Gunners, whose last final in European competition came in 2006, or the Blues, a team apparently ravaged by individuals aiming for personal glory rather than the teams success?

Willian Giroud Chelsea

Unai's Time to Make History

Make no mistake about it, Arsenal are one of the biggest clubs in the world. If you go anywhere on earth you’ll see kids playing in the street wearing Arsenal shirts and shops selling both official and unofficial merchandise because they know that people will want to flaunt their colours.

Despite never winning the Champions League or Europa League, Arsenal are undoubtedly one of the elite, however if they wish to remain at such an impressive status they will need to take home a gold medal from one of Europe’s top two tournaments.

Manager Unai Emery needs to go the whole way in Europe after his major disappointment with Paris Saint-Germain, as his former side gave up a four goal cushion versus Barcelona to lose 6-5 on aggregate in the Last 16 of the Champions League in 2017. He will see the Europa League as the perfect opportunity to not only diminish the memories of poor results in the FA Cup and League Cup, but to create a new era at a club which has been dominated by an unrelenting demand for more trophies from supporters over the past decade or so.

Emery would go down in history, regardless of whether his future at Arsenal becomes more successful or if he fails next season. The atmosphere at the Emirates would improve ten fold, and we have seen what the power of the Arsenal fans can do against Barcelona all those years ago.

Not only does the Europa League hold its own prestige, but it also paves the way for Champions League qualification for the following season, something that is necessary at a team such as Arsenal and failing to qualify for Europe’s top tournament two years on the bounce is utterly unacceptable to those in love with the football club.

With no signings made in the most recent January transfer window, there will be an expectation on the owners and the boss to invest in top talent and taking the prize from either one of Europe’s two competitions is a statement of intent in itself.

Aaron Ramsey Unai Emery

Chelsea Crave Success

Chelsea Football Club has been transformed since the arrival of Roman Abramovich in the early 2000s, with the billionaire more or less changing the way English clubs are run in terms of transfer policies and recruitment.

Although they have spent all that money in the past and enjoyed the success of league titles under Mourinho and victories in the finals of the Europa League and Champions League of 2011 and 2012 respectively, things have taken a turn for the worst over the past few seasons.

Antonio Conte’s dismissal signalled that there was, and still is, something inherently wrong inside the squad and it is something that current manager Maurizio Sarri has touched on at times, saying that the players are difficult to motivate and implying that they team struggle to maintain a strong mentality.

Therefore there would surely be no better way to prove the doubters wrong than winning one of Europe’s elite tournaments and display to everybody watching that this Chelsea side can compete against the best and win when all odds look against them.

Much like Emery, Sarri needs a trophy. For different reasons of course, as the Italian’s job is at risk if he fails to deliver success during this campaign whereas his counterpart will likely be given time at Arsenal.

But at Chelsea, there is no time to stop and think about what to do next. Winning is the only option and if that cannot be delivered by Sarri, someone else will be employed and expected to take medal after medal. The board are ruthless at Stamford Bridge and the boss will deem it absolutely vital that he can show that same ruthlessness with his team on the pitch.

The 60-year-old’s grip on the job for next season was weakened during the League Cup final as his goalkeeper, Kepa Arrizabalaga, undermined him in front of millions of people watching.

Dropping the young keeper was a sign of intent and authority from Sarri, but he will know that he cannot afford for anything similar to that incident happen ever again, especially if he holds any hopes of keeping the morale within the camp high as we approach the end of the campaign.


They Both Need It, But Only One Can Earn it

Either club’s fans will tell you that this year, the Europa League is imperative to their team. They both absolutely need it and have the quality to go out and earn it, but it all comes down to who deserves it.

Too many times have we seen these two crumble in European tournaments, now is the time for both to stand up and be counted. For viewers to again respect what these sides have to offer and even enjoy watching them play.

The Arsenal and Chelsea of yesteryear can be brought back to life if they attain European glory once more, but they what they will need, more than the trophy itself, is to display that hunger, grit and desire that those before them have. Once the pride of London, these two should be nothing less than exactly that.