Sooner rather than later we’re going to be dealing with the return of the Champions League and Europa League. As we all know that’s going to be a pretty big deal for Arsenal (the latter that is), as it serves as one of their two possible routes back into the Champions League. While there’s a good chance they could still force their way into the top four it’s pretty tight up there, and contingency plans are pretty much a necessity. As such, we get the feeling that they’re going to throw everything against the wall in this competition in an attempt to pick up some silverware.
As you’re probably aware by now, Arsenal have been drawn to face BATE Borisov in the round of 32 of this season’s Europa League, with the first game being played in Belarus, and the rematch scheduled for February 21, at the Emirates.
However, according to Sky Sports, there was some commotion regarding the timing of the second leg. UEFA tried to avoid two games in the same competition being played in the same City on the same evening, and as Chelsea are set to host Swedish side Malmo on that date, Arsenal’s clash with BATE was moved to Wednesday, February 20. That would, of course, mean that the game would now be overlapping with Champions League encounters, and they had therefore decided to move the kick-off time to 5PM.
Arsenal will play Belarusian side BATE Borisov in the UEFA Europa League Round of 32, after the draw was made earlier today. The Gunners managed to ease through their group but will now face the tough task of mastering knockout football, with their goal being to go a few steps further than they did last season when they crashed out at the semi-final stage.
UEFA have officially opened disciplinary proceedings against Arsenal following their 1-0 Europa League win over Qarabag, the European football governing organization has confirmed. The only goal of the game was scored by Alexandre Lacazette in the 16th minute of the match, as a rotated line-up saw out the group stage with qualification guaranteed beforehand.
A statement on the UEFA official website says:
Disciplinary proceedings have been opened following the UEFA Europa League group stage match between Arsenal FC and Qarabağ FK (1-0), played on 13 December in England.
Unai Emery’s starting line-up for Thursday night’s 1-0 win over Qarabag in the Europa League for the most part unremarkable. With the Gunners already qualified for the knockout stages of the group, there was little sense in Emery risking injuries to any of his star players.
However, there was one interesting inclusion in the starting line-up in the shape of French forward Alexandre Lacazette. The forward scored the only goal of the game before being substituted.
Arsenal boss Unai Emery has hinted that German playmaker Mesut Ozil could feature for the Gunners in Thursday night’s Europa League game against Qarabag.
Emery is likely to rest his star players for the dead rubber at the Emirates and field a number of fringe players against the team from Azerbaijan. The likes of Nacho Monreal and Laurent Koscielny could also feature, as both look to return to fitness after injury lay-offs.
Ozil could return after a back injury
Ozil has been sidelined through a back injury since 25th November when the Gunners faced November. However, Emery has hinted Ozil could return this evening by telling Sky Sports: “After his injuries, he is OK,”
On Thursday night, Arsenal host Qarabag in Group E of the Europa League, as the Gunners look to finish the group stage on a winning note.
In reality, this game is a classic dead rubber of a game, with very little riding on it for either side. Arsenal have already secured top spot after winning four of their five group games. Meanwhile, Qarabag are bottom of the group and have no chance of making it to the knockout stages of the competition.
Arsenal’s hectic Christmas period is set to continue tomorrow, when they finish up their Europa League group stage campaign at home to Qarabag. It’s a game that probably (definitely) doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of their season, mainly because they’ve already been able to cruise through into the knockout stages. Everyone knows that Arsenal are one of the favourites in the Europa League and could easily make their way through to the latter stages, but there are still a few question marks surrounding this game.
Matteo Guendouzi has revealed Paris Saint-Germain were interested in signing him prior to his arrival to the Emirates.
Guendouzi passed through the French title holders’ youth system before joining Ligue 2 side Lorient in 2015.
Speaking to French outlet Canal +, the 18-year-old confirmed a number of clubs, including PSG, were interested in his services. However, as soon as he learned of Arsenal’s involvement, his mind was made up. He knew that this was the right club for him and he focused all his attention on joining the Gunners. The club spent £7million on his signature, not a small amount given his age and the fact that he had no previous first-team experience in top-tier football.
In yesterday’s article, I talked about Unai Emery getting the balance right in his selection choices for Europa League games. On Thursday night, the Spaniard got his team selection spot on, as the Gunners recorded a comfortable 3-0 win against Vorskla in Kiev.
The game was a good showcase for some of Arsenal’s youngsters to impress, as Emile Smith-Rowe and Joe Willock both got on the scoresheet for the Gunners in a comfortable victory.