The time ticked away for Arsenal in their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg match against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena. The scoreline read 1-1 on the night and 3-1 to Bayern on aggregate to send the Gunners packing. This loss will sting for a little bit for Arsenal, but it is the best possible result for Arsene Wenger’s squad.
Arsenal currently sit in third place in the English Premier League with 59 points from 28 matches, tied with Liverpool but behind due to goal difference. Rival Chelsea are seven points clear on top of the league with one more match played and Manchester City are just two points behind in fourth, having played two fewer matches.
City should make the points and more since their two games in hand are against Aston Villa and Sunderland both at the Etihad Stadium. If Manchester City win those two matches, then they would sit in second place with a four-point advantage over Arsenal and Liverpool for the one remaining automatic qualifying spot for the next Champions League group stage.
Arsenal are a club that expects to win in every match that they play, so eliminating the potential five extra matches that a run to the Champions League final would bring will only help them continue to field a near full-strength squad for the rest of the Premier League season. They are still involved in the FA Cup which is at the semifinal round; the competition could add two more matches to Arsenal’s fixtures, but Wenger could throw a slightly weakened squad out as the Gunners are matched up with second-division Wigan Athletic, who won the competition last season.
The London club is entering quite arguably their toughest stretch of the season with matches away to Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Everton, as well as home ties with Swansea City and Manchester City in the next five fixtures. They also received some unpleasant news as Mesut Ozil will miss the next few weeks due to a hamstring injury he picked up on Tuesday.
He will join midfielder Jack Wilshere, who is out for at least six weeks with a fractured foot suffered on national team duty with England last week. A result will be huge for Arsenal this weekend as Spurs are sitting just six points behind the Gunners. You can see the match in the United States live on NBC SN starting at 11:55 a.m. ET on Sunday.