Arsenal are the favourites to win the Europa League this season, despite a 1-0 defeat against Koln on Thursday night in their penultimate group game.
The Gunners have confirmed their place of winners of Group H with a game to spare. The north London giants are now odds of 6/1 to win the competition this season.
Arsene Wenger’s side have qualified in a relatively comfortable manner from a group most would describe as mediocre.
Koln themselves went into last night’s clash having failed to win any of their games in the Bundesliga this season. Peter Stoger’s side did up their game for the clash, in which Wenger decided to field a number of fringe players.
Wenger has got rotation right
It is now almost a tradition for Wenger to rotate his squad in the lesser cup competitions such as the League Cup and now, of course, the Europa League.
The competitions give fringe players the chance to impress and build up their match fitness. They also the Gunners star players to rest and prepare for the weekend Premier League fixtures.
Wenger has got the mix of first-team and fringe players right in the group stages. In the past, the veteran French boss has thrown out a team of youngsters in the League Cup.
However, he has not always done that in the Europa League this season. Despite the Gunners, not blowing every away they have qualified from the group for the knockout stages of the competition.
Wenger deserves some credit for getting his squad rotation right during the European campaign this season.
Europa League worth winning
I have said it many times before the Europa League is well worth taking seriously. The carrot of a Champions League spot for next season for the winners is a worthwhile one.
Competition for a top-four spot in the Premier League is just as fierce as ever this season. There is no guarantee that the north London side will clinch one of those top-four spots this season.
That means the Europa League may be the Gunners golden opportunity of winning back one of those lucrative Champions League spots for next season.
No doubt, as the competition progresses and it gets nearer to the end of the competition Arsenal must take it more seriously.
The Europa League is not an easy trophy to win, especially with the possibility of a number of quality teams dropping out of the Champions League. However, it is still silverware and carries with another route into the Champions League.
Can Arsenal win the Europa League?