Arsenal will discover their Europa League group stage opponents on Friday when the draw is made in Istanbul, Turkey
A big week for Arsenal awaits. Not only will Mikel Arteta’s side go in search of a win against Fulham on Saturday evening to maintain their perfect start to the new season, but they will also discover their fate in the Europa League.
Back in the competition after a full campaign without any European football and following a fifth-placed Premier League finish last season, the draw for the group phase takes place on Friday and over the next few days, things will become a lot clearer with the final qualifiers taking place.
Of course, it’s not just the Europa League qualifiers that Gunners supporters have to keep an eye on later this week as six sides will be transferring to the competition from the UEFA Champions League play-off round which sets up the potential for some intriguing group stage ties.
So which teams have already qualified for the Europa League, which teams are still hopeful of qualifying, who could drop down from the Champions League and what could Arsenal’s group look like when the draw is made on Friday?
Likely Champions League opponents
Below is how things stand going into the second leg of the Champions League play-off round as Arsenal will be joined in the Europa League by one of Rangers or PSV Eindhoven, whilst Dynamo Kyiv are at risk of dropping down after losing to Benfica in the first-leg meeting a week ago.
Qarabag 0-0 Viktoria Plzen (Champions path)
Bodo/Glimt 1-0 Dinamo Zagreb (Champions path)
Maccabi Haifa 3-2 Red Star Belgrade (Champions path)
Copenhagen 2-1 Trabzonspor (Champions path)
Dynamo Kyiv 0-2 Benfica (League path)
Rangers 2-2 PSV Eindhoven (League path)
Europa League play-offs (as things stand)
And going into the second legs of the Europa League play-offs, it’s looking like Fenerbahce – Mesut Ozil’s former club – are on course for the group stage after a 2-0 win over Austria Wien, Olympiacos should feel confident in their chances of overcoming Apollon, whilst Hearts have it all to do after losing to Zurich.
HJK 1-0 Silkeborg
Zurich 2-1 Hearts
Apollon 1-1 OIympiacos
Ludogorets 1-0 Zalgiris
Gent 0-2 Omonoia
Ferencvaros 4-0 Shamrock Rovers
Malmo 3-1 Sivasspor
Pyunik 0-0 Sheriff
Dnipro 1-2 AEK Larnaca
Austria Wien 0-2 Fenerbahce
Arsenal, Manchester United, Roma, Lazio, Braga, Feyenoord, Rennes, Real Sociedad, Real Betis, Union Berlin, Freiburg, Nantes, Monaco, Sturm Graz, Union Saint-Gilloise, Midtjylland are the 16 qualified teams so far. Although clubs cannot be drawn against teams from the same association, which means, for example, Arsenal will avoid Man United in the group stage.
All the pots haven’t been finalised just yet, but Roma, Arsenal, Man United, Lazio and Braga are confirmed to be Pot 1 and they will be joined by three from Feyenoord, Rennes, the winner from the Europa League play-off round, two losers from the Champions League play-off round League Path and one loser from the Champions Path.
AS Monaco are confirmed to be in Pot 2, meanwhile Real Sociedad, Real Betis, Union Berlin, Freiburg, Nantes and Sturm Graz’s pots are still to be confirmed but they won’t be in Pot 1 which means they can be paired with the Gunners in the group stage and that will be interesting if Hector Bellerin does end up returning to Spain.
Here are the pots for this season’s Europa League group stage with the confirmed teams:
Pot 1: Roma, Manchester United, Arsenal, Lazio, Braga
Pot 2: Monaco
Pot 3: TBC
Pot 4: Union Saint-Gilloise
To be assigned a pot: Feyenoord, Rennes, Real Sociedad, Real Betis, Midtylland, Union Berlin, Freiburg, Nantes, Sturm Graz
Much has changed since Arsenal were last in the competition during the 2020/21 season. One being the away goals rule has been abolished and the other being that ‘The group stage has been reduced from 48 to 32 teams – eight groups of four. The eight group winners progress automatically to the round of 16.
‘There will be additional knockout round play-offs prior to the round of 16; these will be between the eight UEFA Europa League group runners-up and the eight third-ranked teams from the UEFA Champions League groups.’
Of course, these changes can give the Europa League something of a Champions League feel, but only for those who top their group as two extra games – previously the round of 32 stage – are avoided. Arsenal topped their Europa League group for four straight years so can experience the benefits of the competition’s new alterations if they repeat the trick this season.
As explained by UEFA’s official website and due to the World Cup taking place in the winter months instead of the summer, matchday one of the group stage gets underway on September 8, 2022 and the final matchday is slated for November 3, 2022 which means the Europa League group phase will be completed in eight weeks instead of the usual 12.