Arsenal’s Group Stage opponents for the Europa League have been announced – and the draw has been mostly kind to the Gunners.
Making up Group B alongside Mikel Arteta’s men will be Dundalk of Ireland, Molde of Norway and Rapid Wien of Austria.
Dundalk became only the third Irish side to qualify for the main part of the Europa League draw when they defeated KI Klaksvik of the Faroe Islands just yesterday. The group stage games have not been announced in terms of dates and times, but what do we know about our prospective opponents and what threats do they pose?
The Irish side currently lie fifth in the League of Ireland Premier Division but don’t let that fool you. Tjhey have a decent pedigree and were also the last side to qualify for the Europa League main draw, back in 2016. They are a resolute outfit and defeated Sheriff Tiraspol to face off against KI Klaksvik – which they won convincingly. There are no standout performers in the side, but visiting the Aviva stadium (their own home ground doesn’t meet UEFA regulations) will still require a decent team from Arsenal. Still, this is a team we’ll be expected to defeat convincingly.
The Norwegians currently sit in fourth spot in the Eliteserlen and put out Ferencvaros to earn a spot in the Europa League. They possess Leke James up top too. The Nigerian forward currently has 11 goals in 22 games and last season he was even more prolific. Molde’s home ground is located around 27 hours away from London, so the away trip could be arduous. Still quite a winnable opponent and one we’ll be expected to win, both home and away.
Probably the most dangerous of the trio. Rapid have a decent pedigree in Europe and will not be awed by the occasion of visiting The Emirates. The good thing is that the away trip for us in Vienna is not far at all. After three games, Rapid sit second in the Austrian Bundesliga. Early days for them, but it shows they have hit the season running.
Overall, our Group is one that allows Arteta to rotate and still we should aim for top spot in the Group. Anything less will be unacceptable.
The scheduling for games is still up in the air, but it will add to what is already a burgeoning fixture list.