Seven reasons why Liverpool deserve a Champions League spot more than Arsenal
Kieran Beckles explains why Liverpool would be a welcome change in the Champions League after Arsenal's disappointing season
1) Liverpool’s record against the top six
Liverpool have a great record against their closest rivals this season. Jurgen Klopp’s side collected 20 points to finish top of the mini-league amongst the division’s top-six clubs. That’s four points more than Premier League champions Chelsea. Arsenal, on the other hand, are languishing in bottom place with a mere nine points. Of course, a successful Premier League season requires more than just beating your big rivals. Liverpool have struggled against the so-called lesser teams. However, their record against the top six suggests that Liverpool are better equipped to challenge Europe’s elite. Arsenal have offered meek resistance against the best teams in the Premier League, which suggests the Champions League could be a struggle again next season.
2) Arsenal have failed
Arsenal haven’t established themselves as a Champions League force despite their distinguished record of qualifying for the competition. Arsene Wenger guided Arsenal to his only final in 2006. Barcelona came from behind against 10-man Arsenal to win 2-1 in Paris. The Gunners haven’t come close to winning the competition since their heartbreak in the French capital. In fact, Arsenal have failed to reach the Champions League quarter-finals in the past seven seasons despite progressing out of the group stage. Put bluntly, perhaps a season out of European’s premier competition would be good tonic for Arsenal with change required at the north London club.
3) Klopp in the Champions League
Klopp and his brand of football has a place in the Champions League. His Borussia Dortmund team earned cult status between 2011 and 2014. Under Klopp, BVB reached the Champions League final in 2012. To get to the Wembley showpiece, Dortmund had to beat Real Madrid. Robert Lewandowski’s hat-trick capped what was an incredible 4-1 win in the first leg at the Westfalenstadion before scraping through on away goals at The Bernabeu. Dortmund lost 2-1 to Bayern Munich in the Champions League final at the home of English football but BVB were popular losers. Liverpool were in scintillating form at the start of the season. Klopp’s potential to create a Liverpool team capable of making an indent on the Champions League is exciting.
4) European nights at Anfield
The atmosphere in the Premier League games at Anfield has been muted at times this season. Champions League nights at Anfield are memorable and it’s something that has been missed. Those famous home victories over Juventus and Chelsea in their Champions League campaign were unforgettable occasions. It heralded the start of a three-year period were Liverpool established themselves as a European power once again after reaching two finals, a semi-final and a quarter-final in five seasons under Rafeal Benitez. Liverpool struggled in Europe under Brendan Rodgers and the loss of Luis Suarez was a blow to their European ambitions. But with Klopp at the helm, Anfield will be energised in the Champions League next term.
5) Revolution at Arsenal
If Arsenal do finish in the top four and secure their place in the Champions League, it’s difficult to see much change happening at the Emirates Stadium this summer. Arsene Wenger came under intense pressure earlier this season when the Gunners lost 10-2 to Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich in the Champions League. Arsenal were beaten by Chelsea, Liverpool, Watford and West Brom during that spell to leave Wenger teetering on the brink. The 67-year-old’s current deal is set to expire at the end of the season but the Frenchman has refused to shed light on his plans beyond the summer. Wenger has the chance to end the campaign with some silverware if Arsenal beat Chelsea in the FA Cup final. You sense a top-four finish would really provide Wenger with the ammunition to fend off his critics and remain in his comfy position at Arsenal.
6) Can Liverpool stars impress in Europe?
Liverpool have some of the Premier League’s most-exciting players in their ranks. Most Premier League fans would include Philippe Coutinho, Adam Lallana and Sadio Mane in the division’s best entertainers. Liverpool’s biggest weaknesses is their defence and squad size. Indeed, only champions Chelsea have scored more goals than Liverpool in the 2016-17 campaign. That’s thanks mostly to the form of Coutinho, Lallana and Mane, who have bamboozled plenty of top-flight defences this season. But how would they fair in the Champions League? Coutinho has been linked with a move to Barcelona in recent month and there is no doubt that the South American has made improvements this term. The Liverpool No10 has scored 12 goals, which is his best return since moving to Liverpool from Inter Milan in 2012. But Coutinho regularly pitting his wits against Europe’s best will be the real litmus test of his talent. As a football fan, it would be intriguing to see how Coutinho would cope against the Champions League’s best teams.
7) Bayern Munich humiliation
Arsenal’s demolition at the hands of Bayern is perhaps the biggest indication that the Gunners don’t deserve a 21st tilt at winning the Champions League. The north London side were emphatically beaten over two legs with key players struggling to contend with Bayern’s power. The Bundesliga champions are a strong team and scoreline suggests the gap between Europe’s elite and Arsenal is ever-widening. It’s time for a change and five-time European Cup winners Liverpool would be a worthy club to attempt at going one step further than Arsenal in next season’s Champions League.