Arsenal were previously the favourites to win the Europa League since the competition started, but now that teams like Napoli, Atletico Madrid and Dortmund have joined the throng for the knockout rounds, they have been ousted from the top of the betting. Arsene Wenger was never happy about Champions League teams getting a second chance in the secondary competition. When asked of his opinion, Le Prof said: “Yeah, Napoli, Atletico Madrid, Dortmund, so it will be interesting.
“We spoke about that. I thought that basically we were never in the Europa League because we always qualified out of the group stage, but I was never a big fan of teams going to the Europa League.”
Theo Walcott reckons it will be good to have some harder challenges, but thinks that this side can perform whoever they are drawn against. “It says it it all when Champions League teams drop out. It boosts that competition even more – there are top-quality teams that are going to be in the competition even more. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens next. We’re excited, it’s nice to get these teams coming through but we’ll fancy ourselves against anyone if we perform like we did tonight. At times it looked easy but we went out there and enjoyed it, and that’s what it’s about. When you see a whole group of players enjoying themselves, that’s what it’s about, I believe.”
One question that the fans are very interested in is whether Wenger will stick to his second team if drawn against any of the big guns, and he didn’t specify really. He just said: “I will adapt every time the team to the team we face. It depends. I just select the team I think can win the next game. It’s difficult because this team can play against anybody.”
Well I think that Wenger will have to do some rotating in the next few weeks anyway, and some of those that performed well last night could come into the EPL side anyway. Who can predict what our first team will be when the Europa League restarts again in February?