Obviously, Arsenal will have to be greatly improved come February if we want to have a chance of winning the Europa League. Yet we still have players who on their day can beat most sides In this competition.
To win any tournament you need a slice of luck. Ours may have come in the shape of the 8 teams who have dropped out of the Champions League. It may seem inconsequential now but don’t underestimate how crucial it could be to our season, who and who didn’t finish third in the CL.
A few years ago it was Atletico Madrid, the next year Napoli, 12 months ago Inter Milan. This year it could have been the likes of Real Madrid. Considering that the 8 who will now join us in this year’s knock out stages, it could have been worse …….
We are not good enough to be taking anyone for granted but, apart from Man United, I would be confident of beating any of those names over two legs (although I did say the same about Olympiakos at the same stage last time).
The Greeks again, Krasnodar, Kiev and Salzburg are all possible opponents for the next round.
Most bookmakers agree with England being the favourite nation to claim the Europa League.
Spurs are faves at around 5/1, no doubt thanks to Jose’s record in two-legged football, while us and United are priced at just a slightly bigger price.
So that tells you most betting companies agree that apart from United and Tottenham, our chances of success in Europe haven’t been harmed by those relegated from UEFA’s premiere competition. In fact after United, the next favourite out of the 8 drop outs are Kiev at 33-1 (although Ajax at around 20/1 looks a bit generous)
Options for Monday’s draw include those who were runners up of their Europa League groups – like Belgrade, Young Boys, Granada, Slavia Prague, Benfica, Sociedad, Braga, Lille, Wolfsburg, Tel Aviv and Royal Antwerp.
The only issue for the Gunners is as the season progresses the importance of winning the competition gets bigger. By next Feb it’s most likely we will be viewing this trophy as our only route back into the Champions League or even Europe in general.
My fear is we are not mentally tough enough to play with that much pressure on our heads.
The three teams who have knocked us out were purely playing for the silverware, not trying to save their season due to their League position.
Lots of clubs would like to win the Europa League, Arsenal NEED to. My nightmare scenario is facing Spurs when they already are guaranteed a top 4 finish, with us having everything to lose, them nothing to lose, and their manager with that smug smile on his face.
So 7-1 Arsenal to win the Europa League. Would you put a tenner on that?
(18-1 on Villarreal caught my eye, who would you bet on?)
Be Kind In The Comments