Arsenal are facing a tough six days ahead of them, as they are scheduled to appear in three games within a short period of time: on Thursday, 19 September, the lads will be travelling to Germany, where they will be playing a Europa League match against Eintracht Frankfurt; on Sunday, 22 September, they have a Premier League head-to-head with Aston Villa at the Emirates Stadium; finally, on Tuesday, 24 September, the Gunners will be playing against Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup. Arsenal’s last match of the month is due to take place on 30 September against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
The UEFA Europa League may not be seen as a great competition by Arsenal fans, and understandably so after their loss in the final which prevented them from playing Champions League football next season. However, not only does it serve as a valid entry back into Europe’s biggest club competition, but it also gives other teams a chance to live out their dream of playing European football.
Here they come
Case in point: Wolverhampton Wanderers. The Midlands-based club have long since been viewed as a sleeping giant within English football, but in the last twelve months, they have been able to burst through the glass ceiling after finishing 7th in the top flight, qualifying for the Europa League and reaching the FA Cup semi-finals.
We can all moan and groan about the fact that Arsenal are going to be playing in the Europa League again next season, but let’s face it, there’s nothing that we can do to change that. What’s done is done and instead of licking our wounds, it’s time to start preparing for Europe’s second biggest club competition. After all, there’s no point in pretending like we all didn’t big it up last season.
The UEFA Europa League is one of those competitions that never seems to get the respect it deserves, and to be perfectly honest, we can’t see that changing anytime soon. The majority of teams will always strive to enter the Champions League, and even for those who consider that goal to be unrealistic, they’d still prefer to think of that as opposed to considering the possibility of playing on Thursday nights.
Alas, the Europa League is a competition that consistently features some of Europe’s most underrated sides, and it almost always serves up some really entertaining encounters. People just, for some reason, have this negative perception of it, and the sooner fans come to understand the benefits of the competition, the better.
Arsenal’s French striker Alexandre Lacazette has been talking about the importance of centre-back Laurent Koscielny in the Gunners run to tonight’s Europa League final against Chelsea.
Respect for his compatriot
Talking about his teammate, Lacazette told Teamtalk: “He worked all summer to come back quickly and when he came back he played four games in a row after a big injury. That is really hard.
“He has helped us all season to be better in defence. We all have big respect for Laurent. A really big respect”.
It’s the day of the UEFA Europa League final, and as such, there should probably be around 60,000 fans from the red and blue side of London descending on the city in which the final will be held. Of course, due to the absolute insanity that is the game being held in Baku, there are only a handful of fans on either side of the fence. We’ve seen videos coming out that showcase the clear gulf in numbers between the two sets of fans, too, with the Gunners coming out on top pretty convincingly.
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages – it’s time (well, almost). Arsenal fans will be starting their preparations for travelling to Baku (for the lucky few who actually have tickets) within the next day or so, and some may even already be there. This week marks Arsenal’s first major European final since back in 2006, when they lost the Champions League final to Barcelona in Paris.
According to the Daily Mail, Arsenal are amongst a plethora of clubs interested in signing Colombian playmaker James Rodriguez this summer.
The 27-year-old has spent the last few seasons on loan at German giants Bayern Munich from Real Madrid. Bayern have the option of making his deal a permanent one for £37million, but the report claims that the Colombian does not want to make his stay in Bavaria a permanent one.
According to talkSPORT, Arsenal veteran French centre-back Laurent Koscielny could exit the club this summer. The 33-year-old has just a year left on his contract and reportedly the Gunners could sell the defender if he does not sign a new deal this summer.
The same report also claims that the Gunners could target Barcelona’s French centre-back Samuel Umtiti as his compatriot’s replacement.
Koscielny’s future in doubt
When Koscielny is fit the experienced centre-back is Arsenal best defender. However, there have been doubts over the Frenchman’s future at the club since last summer, when he was reportedly considering his future.
As I wrote yesterday’s article about Petr Cech’s return to former club Chelsea this summer as sporting director, I realised the gravity of the situation ahead of the Europa League final next Wednesday between Arsenal and the Blues.
Petr Cech is only human
It seems almost certain that Petr Cech is returning to his former club. There is nothing wrong with that, he enjoyed the best years of his football career at Chelsea. He obviously has a great affinity with the club from south west London.