ARSENAL suffered a major setback in their quest to break back into the Champions League.
The Gunners’ 3-1 capitulation at the hands of Wolves has left them staring another season in the Europa League square in the face.
Should Arsenal qualify for Europe’s top table, boss Unai Emery will finally be handed a bumper transfer kitty to compete with the big boys.
If not, the North Londoners are set to have another transfer window with little to spend and will be forced to go bargain-hunting.
We take a look at how Arsenal could line-up if they break into the Champions League – in a team worth £450million – and if not.
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE XI
FIRST and foremost, Arsenal need to bolster their defence… desperately.
Shkodran Mustafi has been shambolic this season, while the XI that took to the turf without the German on Wednesday night still shipped three goals.
Barcelona star Samuel Umtiti would be a massive upgrade at centre-back – and is a £70m target for Emery.
Michael Keane is another defensive target, but Leicester left-back Ben Chilwell is an absolute must-buy, with the left-side a real issue for Arsenal this season.
Hector Bellerin and Sokratis Papastathopoulos would stay on at Arsenal to bolster the team, with Bernd Leno deserving of another season between the sticks.
I was surprised to see him start. He is the king of blunders.
Emmanuel Petit on Shkodran Mustafi
Meanwhile, Arsenal would need little in the midfield ranks, with Lucas Torreira, Granit Xhaka and Matteo Guendouzi already in the squad.
In attack, Alexandre Lacazette deserves to start – boasting better stats than Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Behind him though, reinforcements are needed, with the likes of Mesut Ozil, Alex Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan struggling.
Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha, Barcelona flop Malcom and Ajax ace David Neres would be three superb options to support Lacazette up top.
Luka Jovic and Thorgan Hazard talented alternatives.
All in all, the team would be worth a staggering £450m – with around £200m of summer upgrades boosting that tally.
EUROPA LEAGUE XI
SHOULD Arsenal fail to break into the Champions League, they’ll almost certainly have to hunt for freebies and cut-price buys.
Leno would stay on in goal, but up front they’d likely lose Lacazette – who would surely not be willing to stick around and play second-fiddle for a Europa League side.
In defence, Arsenal may be forced to persist with Mustafi in the heart of the back-four – and may even turn to Liverpool’s Alberto Moreno at left-back.
The Spaniard is out of contract at the Reds this summer and could be snatched up on a free transfer, but Barcelona are also interested.
MORE ARSENAL STORIES
The likes of Granit Xhaka may also jump ship, meaning the Gunners are forced to look at the likes of Jordan Veretout to bolster their central midfield ranks.
In attacking midfield, Arsenal will have to persist with Mesut Ozil – but could do a lot worse than turning to Bournemouth’s assist king Ryan Fraser on one wing.
On the other flank, Emery may plump for youth and give Gabriel Martinelli a run – with the Arsenal chief reported to have already agreed a deal for the Ituano youngster.