By Jack McRae

There will be consistent, painful reminders of Arsenal’s failure to qualify for the UEFA Women’s Champions League group stage throughout the coming months.

Having played in the semi-final of the competition in front of a sold-out Emirates Stadium just months earlier, the Gunners may feel their season is almost over before it has truly begun.

Blighted by a series of injuries amid an unkindly busy schedule, Arsenal showed their characteristic resilience to battle back from 2-0 down to send their game against Paris FC to extra time.

Summer signing and England star Alessia Russo would then score her second goal of the game to equalise again in to make it 3-3 but Arsenal could not replicate their good fortune in the subsequent shootout, losing 4-2 after misses by Russo and Frida Maanum.

Unfortunately, the shootout heartbreak will not only remain long in the memory at Arsenal, but also the rest of the footballing world.

The defeat most likely all but ends the pursuit of England and Manchester United goalkeeper Mary Earps, with the draw of Champions League action key to attracting Russo to London – it appears they may have to wait until next season for her former teammate to join.

Head coach Jonas Eidevall was eager to move on from the disappointment and asked fans to rally behind his side.

“Now more than ever, the players need that support and do that because they give everything on the pitch," he said.

"I think they're a little bit unlucky that we don't get the result and they need the support so we can go strong into the season together.”

Record-breaking support for Arsenal Women had been key in developing the team into one of Europe’s best under the stewardship of Eidevall and the shock defeat to Paris FC is a major setback in the side’s project which had been rapidly gaining momentum.

Special European nights in front of a packed-out Emirates Stadium - like those against VfL Wolfsburg in May - will go on hold for the time being, as rivals Chelsea and Manchester City could be travelling to the likes of Barcelona, Lyon or Bayern Munich, Arsenal will be left at home, wondering what could have been.

Yet, there are reasons to remain positive for Arsenal fans as the return of Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema to training from season-ending anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries last season will galvanise a forward line already bolstered by the summer signings of Russo and Cloé Lacasse.

Defenders Leah Williamson, Laura Wienroither and Teyah Goldie continue their recoveries from the injury plaguing women’s football and will hope to return before the end of the season as Arsenal aim, with no European distractions, to win the WSL title for the first time since 2019.