The Europa League group stage is going to soon officially be upon us, and while that may fill a lot of fans with dread, we’re quite excited for it to get underway again. Regardless of what you may or may not think in regards to the competition itself, it marks a form of European football for Arsenal to compete in – and that can only be a good thing as far as we’re concerned.
The fact that the games are going to be taking place on Thursday nights isn’t exactly ideal, but it’s not the end of the world, either. There’s a chance for fringe stars to shine, for players to build some confidence, and for Unai Emery to work out what his best starting XI actually is – because let’s face it, the main priority will be securing a top four slot in the Premier League.
Today, we’re going to be taking a quick look at the three teams Arsenal have been matched up against in this year’s group stage.
While they may have finished down in seventh place in Bundesliga last season, Frankfurt’s run into the latter stages of the Europa League proves that they could still be a real force in this competition. Away from home, especially, we think this’ll be a tough one for the Gunners.
They could only manage a third place finish in the Belgian top flight last season, and in terms of where they are now in relation to where they have been in the past, this Standard Liege side doesn’t feel like a team that is going to cause Arsenal any real problems of note.
Aside from one of the games against Vitoria taking place on a Wednesday, there isn’t all too much to get excited about. They managed to finish in fifth in the Primeira Liga last season, but in terms of quality throughout the core of the two squads, there really is no comparison.
We’re backing Arsenal to win the group fairly comfortably, and we think they’ll wind up finishing on 13 points. They’ll win the first four games before getting a bit complacent as their place in the knockouts will probably be secured by then, with Frankfurt coming in not too far behind them ahead of Vitoria and Standard Liege who we think will struggle.
Do you think Arsenal will win their Europa League group?