After its 2-1 loss to Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday, one thing is becoming increasingly clear about Arsenal.
The club will miss out on the Champions League for next season. Even though that sounds about as nice as the apocalypse, Arsenal will benefit from that in the long run. The immediate consequences aren't favorable in any stretch of the imagination; less income, playing in the Europa League, losing out on world class players who want to play in the CL. But the effect of not qualifying for Europe's most coveted tournament will drastically change the mindset of the club.
Just like Saturday's game, the club, especially those on the board and in management positions, lack ambition at the moment. Arsenal has become accustomed to fourth position and achieving just enough to be in that position. It has become comfortable in that spot. It has become out of touch with the possibility of finishing below that. The Gunners have been in the CL continually since 2000, so being in this prestigious competition has become normal.
It's time to shock the body. Time to try something different. When the club finishes outside of the top four of the English Premier League, the higher-ups such as majority owner Stan Kroenke, Ivan Gazidis and Arsene Wenger will finally realize that downgrading talent so much can only get you so far. You can't be the best if the club's best players are sold every single year. Knowing how Arsenal is run at the moment, missing the Champions League will hurt London's best run business. Making profits, which is the main focus at Emirates Stadium for the time being, will be much more difficult playing Young Boys in the Europa League.
Something needs to change. The Gunners played like they were going through the motions at Old Trafford. There was no bite in the final third. Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski are both clearly not ready to support the club with consistent goals. Theo Walcott and Andrey Arshavin? Both played like they have become disinterested in what happens with their team, because they know they won't be there in January. Downgrading the forward positions has hurt the club. But you can't blame the players, they have the same mindset as everyone else in the club. This is a business. They make their money and don't have much ambition to win any hardware, unless you count fourth place as a trophy like Wenger does. As of now, the League Cup is Arsenal's best chance at winning a title.
Missing the Champions League will be like a bucket of ice-cold water thrown on a sleepwalking man in his pajamas. Those at the club will wake up and act with purpose. Hopefully.