Arsenal continue to battle away for a top-four spot in the Premier League and the Champions League spot for next season which comes with it. However, the Europa League offers a viable route to the Champions League for next season.
Last season the competition offered hope to the Gunners of making Europe’s elite competition. Arsene Wenger’s side fell at the semi-final stage against Atletico Madrid, who went on to lift the trophy.
BATE Borisov very beatable in the last 32
Arsenal resumes their Europa League campaign on Thursday night, as they travel to Belarus to face BATE Borisov in the first leg of the last 32. BATE Borisov may prove tricky opposition. Former Arsenal midfielder Aleksandr Hleb is BATE’s best-known player. They will be well set-up and solid.
However, in truth Arsenal should have enough quality to get past a team like BATE. If the Gunners have any hope of making it deep into the competition, then the Belarussian side should be swept aside in a comfortable manner.
Arsenal won five of their six group games in the Europa League, including winning all three away games at Qarabag, Sporting Lisbon and Vorskla. The Gunners have also kept clean sheets in their last five European outings, which is surprising considering the team’s poor defensive displays of late.
Emery will take the competition seriously
So far, during his Arsenal reign, Unai Emery has fielded weakened teams in the Europa League. However, the Spaniard knew that the teams he fielded would be strong enough to get the results against weak opposition.
The Spaniard is likely to continue to name slightly weakened teams, but then as the opposition gets stronger, Emery is likely to name stronger starting line-ups. The time has not come for that just yet. However, when it does then the Gunners boss will take the competition more seriously. He knows exactly what it takes to win the competition, having won it on three occasions.
The competition will get tougher.
Now that the Champions League dropouts are in the competition will get tougher in the latter stages. Arsenal have a strike-force that can cause any team left in the competition problems. However, massive question marks remain over the Gunners at the back.
Whether their vulnerable defence will be good enough to win the Europa League remains to be seen. The Gunners will just be hoping to progress quiet, as the competition gives the team north London another shot at playing Champions League football next season.
Does Arsenal have a realistic chance of winning the Europa League?