For most of this season following Tottenham Hotspur, the only thought given to Arsenal has been in the two matches. The Gunners had such a tough stretch early on that at one point they were almost in the relegation conversation.
Even coming into the finale, I thought little about Arsenal and finishing above them. That is until for a little while the Spurs were not going to. It was at this point when the idea of finishing behind Arsenal seemed possible that I realized, just how important it was for Tottenham to finish above the Gunners.
Fortunately for Tottenham, Harry Kane and Gareth Bale pulled through and the team beat Leicester to secure seventh place. In doing so it qualified Tottenham for the inaugural UEFA Europa Conference League and kept Arsenal below the Spurs and out of Europe.
Arsenal’s European steak ends
People can say what they want about the Europa Conference League and maybe it just stretches the team but it is still European competition. It is a legitimate UEFA competition with coefficient points, just like Europa League and the Champions League.
While people may even jeer Tottenham for being the competition – we know folks have to find a reason – it is European football, which Arsenal cannot claim. It is the first time since 1995 that Arsenal is not going to be playing in a UEFA continental competition. Some fans may claim that is not a big deal but I have no doubt many players and the owners feel quite differently.
The idea that Tottenham won the last spot available for the Premier League in Europe, finished above Arsenal, and the Gunners miss out on weeknight football just makes one happy.
Tottenham taking final European spot helps make-up for last season
The reality is much of the difficulty in the Tottenham season came when the team hit the wall physically. This happened earlier than it might have because the Spurs spent the late summer and early fall qualifying for Europa League proper.
We need to remember it was 8th placed Arsenal last season, walking away with the FA Cup and the automatic birth that goes with it, which kept Tottenham from starting in the UEL group stage. The three games were not the end of the world but they were travel, trouble, and effort better expended elsewhere.
This season, Tottenham may have to start in the Europa Conference League qualifying, but they only have themselves, not Arsenal to blame.
On Sunday while it took a little scare of not finishing in front of Arsenal to remind how important it is, the fact remains it is important. Ultimately, I might be most happy to not have to listen to the Arsenal fans drone on about how great they are and stupid Tottenham is. Because for at least another season, north London is white.