Finishing 4th CL Qualification is Not Easy Anymore
Defeat at the hands of Chelsea mean that we finish the season in 4th place and qualify for the Champions League knock-out stage. What does this mean, and how does this differ from previous seasons?
Under Michel Platini’s plan to get greater inclusion for team like Cluj and BATE Borisov, qualification for the group stages is split into two; the Champions of the smaller nations play in one section and the runners-up, third place and fourth place teams play in the other section.
Arsenal will go straight to the 4th qualifying round, if all the leagues finished as they are now, we will be joined in the 4th round by Valencia, Lyons, Fiorentina, and Hertha Berlin. In addition the five winners of the 3rd qualifying round will also be in the hat for the draw. In this section the top seeds are Shakhtar Donetsk (UEFA Cup finalists), Celtic, Sparta Prague, Dinamo Moscow, Sporting Lisbon and the rest will be Standard Liege, FC Twente, PAOK, Unurea (Romania) and Sivasspor of Turkey.
The interesting point to note is that onece we get to the draw for the 4th qualifying round, there wil lbe no seeds, it will be an open draw with no safety valve for the big teams. We could find ourselves facing Valencia or Lyons.
The draw takes place on 7 August and the games will be played 18 or 19 August, with the return legs the following week 25 or 26 August.
Wenger needs to be active in the transfer market early, get the new players settled and get the likes of Clichy, Rosicky, Gallas and Eduardo fit and ready. It will be tough to qualify for the Champions League, which is why 4th place is not good enough anymore.