Don’t underestimate how crucial Guimaraes’s victory in Germany was in terms of Arsenal’s season. Freddie Ljungberg took a massive gamble on Thursday by fielding mostly youngsters which nearly backfired, and we could have been looking at a very different list of Arsenal’s possible Europa League opponents.
The 2-2 draw in Belgium wouldn’t have been enough to win our group had Frankfurt won, which 10 minutes before full time was a possibility. That would have meant us forced to face a winner of one of the other groups, or even one of the sides who has dropped down from the Champions League.
Even though our confidence and form will be much different come February we wouldn’t have wanted to be facing an Inter Milan or Ajax as early as the round of 32.
We now don’t have to worry about Europe till the New Year knowing, with all respect, that we will be favourites against whoever comes out of Monday’s draw. Who knows maybe we will even have a full-time manager by then?
So let’s look at all Arsenal’s possible Europa League opponents and see who we want to avoid…
The most successful team in Cyprus. Over the years have produced the odd upset, including this week beating Sevilla. Over two legs though we would be massive favourites.
Most successful Danish Club of all time and the highest ranked Scandinavian side according to UEFA. You have to go back to the glory days of the 90’s where they were consistently winning games away from home in Europe. Knocking us out would be their biggest achievement this decade.
You wouldn’t want to be playing someone from La Liga so early but obliviously they are not one of Spain’s big boys. Playing in the Segunda Division as recently as 2017 and in only in their third European campaign this is an adventure their fans can enjoy. Play them and all the pressure would be on us, which is dangerous against the 8th best side in Spain.
Last won their domestic title in 2002 and have become nearly men over the years. Technically a decent team who have been at this level for years. Hard to beat at home but poor travellers. Although they wouldn’t be our first choice it’s worth bearing in mind our second team beat them 1-0 a year ago.
Most of their history has been spent in the Romanian lower divisions with their first taste of European Football coming in 2005. Their most impressive results have been this season, advancing out of a group that included Celtic , Rennes and Lazio.
Would be most gooners romantic choice as Rangers would bring a great support for this Battle of Britain. While the press would love it, the reality is this would be a straightforward tie. Outside of Chris Sutton most people accept there is a huge gap between the English and Scottish game. If we take away their history, playing them would be the equivalent of drawing a mid-table Championship side.
This is only the third time in their history that this top Bulgarian side will play European football after xmas, only getting past the last 32 once. They have a poor record away from home. I would bite your hand off to draw them.
You be very unlucky to win your group and then end up playing a representative from the Bundesliga. With our current confidence they would beat us, especially in Germany. Put it this way they defeated Frankfurt this season, who won at the Emirates.
This Dutch side got a 0-0 draw with Man United although they were playing their youngsters. No team scored more in the group stages but that may have been more based on the opposition. At the highest level they would be well organised and hard to break down, but don’t have many offensive weapons to fear.
The team to avoid in the next round. Like our fans, the Italians are frustrated that they are in this competition, having been traditionally participants in the Champions League. The pressure is on them to win this competition as a way to get back to the highest level, especially with a top 4 finish not guaranteed. We could technically use that pressure to our advantage, but I wouldn’t fancy our defence against Eden Dzeko.
Like us the Germans are now used to being in the Champions League, so will identify it as realistic chance to win a trophy and get back to that level. This would be an unkind draw for Arsenal.
We have faced them enough times over the years to know the situation. Away from home will be tricky but we should beat them at home easily. The Gunners will want to avoid it purely for how long the trip and the cold conditions at that time of the year. One advantage would be the tie would be in the middle of their winter break meaning they wouldn’t have played since December.
Another team we have faced often over the years. Like most Greek teams can create an intimidating atmosphere at home but really poor record away from home, especially in England.
Hard to judge them too much on the Champions League given they were in the same group as PSG and Real Madrid. They led 2-0 in the Bernabeau and were holding Madrid in Belgium for an hour, so are capable of having their moments, especially when they are the underdogs.
So, these are all Arsenal’s possible Europa League opponents. Who would you like to face or avoid in the next round?
Be Kind In the comments….