Arsenal balls: lose to Bayern Munich and the Premier League goes too (just ask Liverpool)
Arsenal are playing badly in the Champions’ League. With the table reading ‘played 2; lost 2’, Arsene Wenger’s team need a win in their home match with Bayern Munich.
Steve Howard has a theory that you can win when you lose. He writes in the Sun:
Should Arsenal suffer back-to-back defeats against Bayern Munich — P11, W11 and 24 goals in their last six games — they could well finish bottom of the group and not even qualify for the Europa League. Arsenal, free of other distractions, will then never have a better chance of winning their first title since the Invincibles in 2003-04. Just call it forward planning. And they never do anything in the Champions League anyway
Can losing matches help to win matches? What about winning being a habit?
In 2014, Liverpool were pushing to the title. With a home match against Chelsea looming the Daily Mirror asked its writes to take a view:
Will Liverpool win the Premier League title? Our reporters have their say…
…the Anfield clash comes slap in the middle of Chelsea’s Champions League semi-final games with Atletico Madrid. That surely gives Liverpool an advantage.
While there’s surely a few twists and turns awaiting us, the fact that the Chelsea game comes in the middle of their Champions League semi-final tips the balance in favour of the Reds for me.
Paul Wilson had more in the Guardian:
There can be no doubt, as Liverpool home in on a possible first title in 24 years, that their chances have been enhanced by non-involvement in Europe.
Managers in the know such as José Mourinho and Manuel Pellegrini have been saying all season that it is easier to play once a week, it is clearly less tiring not to have to travel abroad in midweek and you do not run the risk of “hangovers” when disappointing results in Europe affect your confidence in Premier League matches…
The Anfield game falls right between the two legs of Chelsea’s Champions League semi-final against Atlético Madrid. Mourinho’s players will arrive in Liverpool having played in Spain, and have the home leg at Stamford Bridge three days after Anfield. Given that victory over Liverpool will not necessarily confirm Chelsea as English champions – another slip-up by Manchester City will be required for that to happen – it may be the case that European progress is prioritised…
He then adds wryly:
At the very least some seem to feel that if a 24-year gap is closed and Gerrard gets his title wish, an asterisk should accompany the achievement in the record books to denote that Liverpool played fewer games than most of their rivals that season. If Liverpool do win the title and seventh place is established as the ideal launchpad for domestic success, can we expect teams to be fighting to finish outside the European positions from next season onwards? It could be Manchester United have been ahead of the game all along.
There is plenty of room for argument about whether a Championship season is actually easier or less taxing than a Premier League one, but missing from my correspondent’s analysis of the Wembley situation was the consideration that Arsenal, of the Champions League, were nine minutes from being humbled by Wigan, of the Championship. A team that though relegated at the end of last season had gone to Manchester City in the previous round and put out a side that at the time were favourites to win the Premier League title. You can produce statistics to support almost any argument in football, but Danny Blanchflower was right about the game being about glory. If you don’t see that, if you can’t even be a little bit excited about teams upsetting the odds, you might be missing the point.
Liverpool never did win the title that year, losing t0-2 to Chelsea in that home match. Chelsea lost 3-1 to Atletico Madrid.
Does defeat in the Champion’s League help a team win the title? No. It just means you lost.