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Arsenal are too good for the Europa League - not winning it would be a failure

5:09 am AEST 29/9/17
Arsenal celebrate
The Gunners have breezed through their opening two group games and given the standard of opposition should really win it outright

Arsenal's best chance of qualifying for next season's Champions League is undoubtedly by winning the Europa League at the end of the campaign. If current evidence is anything to go on, they are far too good not to.

Arsene Wenger' fielded a second-string side for the second consecutive group game as they scored four to beat a BATE Borisov. The Belarusian side are no slouches and they've beaten the likes of Athletic Bilbao, Bayern Munich and Roma in recent seasons, but for the most part the Gunners were utterly dominant.

Arsenal 6/1 to win Europa League

Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud led the way with three of the four goals while inexperienced trio Joe Willock, Reiss Nelson and Ainsley Maitland-Niles rarely put a foot wrong as they gave travelling supporters reason to believe the current batch of academy graduates have what it take to establish themselves in the first team in years to come.

Rustiness was to be expected considering most of those players on rarely get a full 90 minutes under their belts in the Premier League, but as Arsenal sharpen up in the competition, the likes of Giroud, Walcott and Mohamed Elneny could provide a crucial spine to Wenger's ambition of winning a European trophy.

While it may not be the Champions League or the Premier League that Wenger craves, it is vital that Wenger prioritises the Europa League over the FA Cup and Carabao Cup this season. Manchester United showed last season that winning the Europa League can be a springboard to better times ahead, and with Arsenal outsiders at most to win the league title, picking up silverware on the continent is the next best thing.

It's likely to be Arsenal's easiest path into the Champions League and the Gunners cannot afford to miss out on £50 million where economic benefits are concerned. BATE, FC Koln and Red Star Belgrade are by no means mammoth opponents but they are just what Wenger needs at this stage - team's that his second string can easily match up with.

Stronger sides will provide tougher tests in the knockout stages, with the likes of Borussia Dortmund and Atletico Madrid potentially facing third-place finishes in their Champions League groups to add to the threats posed by the likes of AC Milan. But if Arsenal can get some momentum going heading into 2018, the usual crushing European defeat that usually sends their season off the rails is unlikely to materialise this time around.

Wenger's decision to rotate his squad was again justified in Belarus, and if the club's reserves can win so easily in this competition, imagine what the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Alexandre Lacazette could do in the latter stages. Arsenal have to win this tournament. Not doing so would not only be a failure but probably mean they are back in it this time next season.