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UWCL disappointment shows how far the men have to go

By Mac Johnson (Senior Writer)

Today's loss to Wolfsburg was gutting, especially if you've been an Arsenal fan for longer than ten minutes, like most of the reactionary idiots rinsing the team on Twitter. I'm speaking, of course, of the Arsenal Women, who fell to a 3-1 aggregate defeat away to the German side who, having lost to eventual runners-up Chelsea at this point last season, have stamped their passport to the semi-finals.


Unfortunately, the 2-0 victory was convincing at least, if not comprehensive. Arsenal fell victim to themselves, a trait very rarely seen in this women's side. A goal from longtime Gunner Jill Roord opened the scoring, and an own goal from the typically stalwart Leah Williamson sealed it, but over the two legs, the North London outfit have never looked quite in it, requiring an 89th minute equalizer from Lotte Wubben-Moy to avoid a home defeat in the opening leg.


Injuries and absences, of course, took their toll. Rafa Souza, the all-important Lia Walti, Mana Iwabuchi, and Arsenal's borderline Player of the Season, Beth Mead, were all absent from the squad tonight, and due to crucial formation changes, other stars like Jordan Nobbs weren't able to start. But that's all moot now. Arsenal must wait another nine months to truly go again.


What has not vanished, though, is the quality and strength that brought them to this stage. Arsenal's women are at least three years ahead of the men in their progression up the ranks of football: they are perennial contenders for top three, and are embroiled in a massive title scrap with Chelsea as we speak. Though the men's side is showing progress up the table, they lack the security or cemented placement of the women, who have remained there for years despite wholesale coaching, lineup, and management changes.


Furthermore, they're Champions League regulars, and are as much of a shoe-in to make it out of the groups as Arsenal were in the Europa League a few years ago. And though their pedigree suffers against the world's best international talent, they're primed for success domestically. They remain undefeated against their closest rivals, Manchester City and Chelsea.


For a majority of this season, the Arsenal men have been struggling towards UCL qualification. Though our comeback from a three game pointless, goalless, winless streak has been impressive, the overall measure for the season is still Europa League qualification. A UCL result, for this team, would be a resounding success. To sneak into the Champions League for this women's team would point to some serious failures throughout the season.


At the point when that success becomes the status quo, Arsenal's will be two thirds of the way there to matching the women, so high is the standard. The disappointment of fans on Twitter is fair, as the team weren't up to snuff tonight, but we're still only one point off the first place WSL ranking that has crowned our name for most of the season. Take notes, Mikel. Jonas's men are going places.

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