New Champions League seeding rules may just be what we need

My friend Lawrence routinely posts debatable topics about Arsenal on his Facebook feed nearly on the daily.  For those of you that have yet to hop on the social media debate train when it comes to Arsenal, do so with the utmost haste - you'll meet supporters from all walk of life, share views that are both similar and contradictory, but most of all, the ability to learn from one another and revel in our mutual love and passion for our club is too good to pass up, even if sometimes the debates to turn heated at times.

Back to the point, Lawrence's latest post was about the new Champions League seeding rules that come into play starting next season.  The most important aspect of the new set up comes by way of the notion that the top eight seeded clubs in the group stage (pot one) now will only ever consist of the current holder, and the champions from Europe's top seven leagues; La Liga, the Premier League, the Bundesliga, Serie A, Lique 1, Primeira Liga and the Russian Premier League.  As stated in the Daily Mail article, had the new seeding rules been in place this season, the top seeding clubs would have been Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Manchester City, Bayern Munich, Juventus, PSG, Benfica and CSKA Moscow.

While this can easily be spun as a qualified disaster for the likes of us that will have many defecating masonry, in reality, shouldn't this be seen as a positive rather than a negative?  With the old rules that were based on a clubs coefficient ranking drawn from their previous Champions League performances and the rating of their domestic league, Arsenal would always find themselves amongst the top eight seeds in the competition.  Always in the top four in England, and always making it out of our CL group meant that a situation such as this year where Manchester City won the Premier League but was seeded lower than us can no longer happen.  Why is this a positive for us? Surly the new seeding system will find us in groups that could end up being far more difficult than what we are already given, but it remains a positive because it means the club can no longer resign itself to accepting a top four finish - we now have no excuses left not to truly prioritize winning the league as our main goal each season.

Yes Arsene, that is the correct facial expression - you now are forced to push the club on and not skirt by...are you still capable? (image courtesy of Arsenal's official Facebook page)
Honestly, the thought of potentially being thrust into a group with Real Madrid or Bayern Munich is a proposition that terrifies me, but such a potential happenstance is all the more reason why the club can no longer skirt by on the back of "good enough" fourth place finishes - we are now in a position where unless we finish in the top two domestically each season, or unless we win the league, we face a yearly drafting into a very difficult group, which come with greater potential consequences.  As Sean pointed out in the same debate, a loss of revenue via us not making it out of our Champions League groups would not be tolerated, neither would potentially losing three or four matches during the group stage be considered a "trivial matter."  For better or worse, we are being thrust into a position where we now have to truly compete or we risk complete regression as a club in all respects, a notion that hopefully makes those inside the club and on the touchline stand up and realize just what has to be done.

There is no debate about how Arsene Wenger and the club have changed our spending policy over the last two summer transfer windows.  Mesut Ozil last summer, and now Alexis Sanchez and company this transfer window seemingly has begun to set us on course to begin to compete with the big boys again, but spending to compete is only part of have to have the drive to win as well, and we still lack that in most areas.  With rumors continuing to build steam surrounding moves for both Sami Khedira and Julian Draxler in January (though, you can only take them with a single grain of salt naturally), have we finally realized in the long run that "doing it the right way" doesn't mean you cannot spend?

Ah...such a hard life that must be - but the reality is, having all the money in the world won't matter if you don't know how to spend it and if you don't have the right man to mold your expenditures into a successful side
In an age where spending nets you silverware, there is something to be said for a manager and a club that are staunchly against the financial dark arts, but the numbers do not lie either.  Every club (or clubs) that hold the balance of power domestically and in European competition are clubs that spend to keep themselves at or near the top, with the exception of perhaps Benfica.  But it's not only spending that keeps these clubs in the room where you need a smokers jacket, a massive bank account and a finely groomed mustache, it's also the man that leads these clubs that has every right to take responsibility for them being there.  You can spend as much money as you like, but unless you have the right man on the touchline, you'll never get the best out of what you bought.

While no one can truly hate Wenger or what he has done for the club, the last couple of years has undoubtedly seen his position as Imperator at the club come under far more scrutiny, to the point where many feel the club will no longer progress until someone comes in willing to build on the framework he has built - could the new seeding system for Champions League accelerate the potentiality that Wenger either calls time on his storied career or that he is sacked?  The latter of the two is the more unlikely, but despite Le Prof guiding us to Europe for seventeen straight seasons, we have only made the final once, and usually we never make it past the round of 16 or the quarterfinals (we only have a combined eight wins in the knockout stage in 16 years, with three of those wins coming in our run to the final in 2006...that is awful), thus completely negating the achievement realistically.  Domestic trophies have dried up and we have yet to taste real success in Europe, so not only does the new seeding system force us to re-prioritize, it also forces us to scrutinize the goings on far more openly.

At the end of the day, while the new seeding system puts us into a far more difficult position, it could well end up being the catalyst that drives the club forward to a new gear that we have not yet hit.  While it may force many to realize that Wenger truly is not the one to spurn us forward, it undoubtedly forces the club to push onwards.  To be the best,  yes you have to bet the best but you also have to actually be the best, and let's be frank here, we're no longer the best at much of anything.

For so long so many have claimed that we are a top club in the modern game...well kids. it's time to put up or shut up, because the new rules starting next season will ask further questions of us, that if we fail to get right, we could well and truly regress as a club to the point where not only our financial picture suffers, but our ability to attract the players necessary to challenge diminishes as well - given the current state of affairs in our current domestic campaign, our test has already begun.

Andrew Thompson is a contributing writer for The Modern Gooner, Outside Of The Boot and We Are Hooligans - follow him on Twitter @AFCBvB1410