What do you need to know about the teams that Arsenal might face in the quarterfinals of the Europa League?
Arsenal are through, Manchester United are through, Ajax are though, Spurs are Spurs. The value of this article should have rocketed up among the Arsenal faithful after that small Sp*rs joke.
But this isn’t an article about Tottenham’s failure, obviously. So, let’s dive a bit deep and know about the teams that are left in the Europa League and who Arsenal might draw in today’s Quarter-final draw.
Ajax (NED): The Dutch side is one of the favorites to win the Europa League title this season. Ajax have performed well at the European stage in the past few years.
They reached the Europa League final in 2017, which they lost against Man Utd, and then most recently almost made it to the final of the Champions League in 2019, only for Lucas Moura to score a last-minute goal to take Tottenham Hotspur to the Champions League final.
Coming into the quarter-finals draw, Ajax find themselves in a comfortable position at the top of the Dutch league, by being eight points clear of second placed PSV, who have played a game more. Erik ten Hag’s men have scored 78 goals and conceded just 19 times in the league season so far.
However, they had a pretty average Champions League campaign, where they finished third in a group having the likes of Liverpool, Atalanta and Midtjylland. They scored seven and conceded the same amount of goals in Europe’s elite stage, which resulted in their elimination.
But after entering the Europa League through a third-place finish in the group stages of the Champions League, they have been brilliant more or less, eliminating the likes of Lille and Young Boys.
If Arsenal draw the current Dutch league champions, they must be ready to face a team who is capable of winning the tournament. You have to beat the best teams in the land to win a trophy, like they did in their FA Cup glory of last season.
Dinamo Zagreb (CRO): Every Arsenal fan hailed the Croatian club after they eliminated the Gunners’ arch-rivals Tottenham. Dinamo came from two goals down to push Spurs out of the tournament, thanks to a superb hat-trick by their talisman Mislab Orsic.
Dinamo is one of the few teams left who everyone would be hoping to draw with. Even though they are top of their domestic league, they won’t possess similar threat as compared to the likes of Man Utd, Ajax or the other five teams left.
Granada (ESP): The Spanish outfit are eighth in La Liga. Their current form has not been great as they have won just two of their last five matches in the league. One of their major frailties is the lack of threat they possess in front of opposition’s goal. They have only scored 33 goals in the Spanish league this term.
Their lack of attacking threat was evident as Diego Martiniz’s men just edged out Swedish side Malmo 3-2 on aggregate. Former Chelsea academy product Kenedy, Roberto Soldado and Jorge Molina are few players who can hurt Arsenal.
Manchester United (ENG): Although Arsenal have taken four points out of a possible six points from their two league games, the Red Devils have been a far superior team overall.
16 points separate Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Mikel Arteta’s team in the league. United have scored 56 goals from their 29 matches, while Arsenal have scored just 37 times from their 28. Defensively, the Gunners boast a more robust team.
But there is no doubt in the fact that the Manchester club have been far better than their London counterpart. Thus, meeting Man United in the final of the Europa League might be the most ideal scenario for the Gunners.
Roma (ITA): Roma are fighting for a Champions League spot this campaign. They trail fourth-placed Atalanta by just two points.
Former Arsenal man Henrikh Mkhitaryan is having an impressive season at Rome bragging the joint most assists in the league at eight. The Armenian has also scored the second-most goals for the club.
The Italian side boasts of finding the net through various names. Jordan Veretout, Mkhitaryan, Edin Dzeko, Borja Mayoral have all scored more than five goals each. Pelligrini and Pedro have also come up with goals at times.
The diversity when it comes to scoring is huge in the Italian club. Arsenal must stop goalscoring threat of many players to suppress the Italians from scoring any goal.
Slavia Praha (CZE): The Czech side have had an impressive campaign in Europe’s second-best stage. They finished the group at second spot on 12 points, three behind group winners Bayer Leverkusen.
The Czech side then recorded splendid wins against the likes of Leicester City and then Steven Gerrard’s Rangers to progress to the quarterfinals.
The current league leader and champions of Czech Republic have a player Abdallah Sima, who reportedly is on the radar of Arsenal. The ‘Senegalese Henry’ as they call him, is one of the stars in the Czech side who have helped the side in their run in the Europa and domestic league.
His finishing and pace are the attributes he has garnered attention for. This might be a tricky tie for The Gunners.
Villarreal (ESP): Former Arsenal coach coming against the current one, this match can prove to be one of the most enticing matches of this campaign for the Arsenal fans. There is no secret in the fact that when it comes to Europa League, Unai Emery possesses some dark magic.
The Spaniard has won the Europa League title three times with Sevilla in 2014. 2015 and 2016, making the Spanish side the most successful, since the inception of the competition.
He almost gave Arsenal their first “real” European silverware in his first season at the Emirates.
But, the less the final in Baku is talked about, the better.
It appeared like Arsenal never really recovered from that night in Baku. Within six months, Emery was gone. Arsenal have adopted the title of a “mid-table club” since.
Although there are signs of improvement under Arteta, the real test for the Gunners will be to win Europa League title. But, if Villareal stand in their way, the journey is bound to be a bit shaky.
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