The UEFA Champions League.
Football’s most exciting spectacle after the World Cup of course. A competition where Europe’s finest showcase their talents on the world stage producing epic encounters that remain in the hearts of football fans for years to come.
Till this day, no Manchester United fan will ever forget the class of '99 that won the Champions League right at the death. 2005 will always be a year AC Milan fans will want to forget as their fabled impregnable defense of Paolo Maldini, Jaap Stam, Alessandro Nesta and Cafu capitulated in grand style against Liverpool despite running away with the contest with an unassailable three-goal lead.
The competition is currently in its knockout stages with two teams already assured of a quarterfinal berth while two other teams adventures have ended prematurely.
Manchester United, on the other hand, will feel that they have every right to be livid with the officiating, as the man with the whistle brandished a red card to Luis Nani after a malicious yet unintentional challenge. Contrary to the angry emotions on that decision in cyberspace, the intent is an unnecessary complication of the rules in my honest opinion.
Was Nani’s foot up beyond shoulder level? Yes! Were his studs showing? Yes! Was there a dangerous impact on Alvaro Arbeloa? Yes!
If I take you down memory lane if you permit me, Arsenal hosted Swiss outfit FC Thun in a Champions League encounter in the 2005/06 season. Robin van Persie attempted to control a high ball with his foot but accidentally caught Orman in the face as the Thun defender tried to head clear.
There was no malice, there was no intent—but the card was red.
Unlike the likes of Real Madrid, AC Milan, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester United that go into the Champions League with plans to win the competition, Arsenal is usually there to make up the numbers and their performances in recent seasons can somewhat justify these claims.
After the amazing run to the final in 2006, Arsenal was knocked out by PSV Eindhoven in the first knockout round of 2007, Liverpool in the quarterfinals of 2008, Manchester United in the semifinals of 2009, Barcelona in the quarterfinals of 2010, Barcelona again in the first knockout round of 2011 and AC Milan in the first knockout round of 2012.
In Arsenal’s defense, these are very strong European sides but to win a competition as prestigious as the Champions League, you have to beat the best teams.
This season, Arsenal is already one foot away from the Champions League following a shameful 3-1 defeat to Bayern Munich, but there are five reasons why they might not get a chance to play against the German outfit next season.
Without further ado, here’s my take on five reasons why Arsenal might not qualify for next season’s Champions League.