Arsenal will be keeping an eye on next Monday’s Europa League draw with interest as some big names drop into the competition from the Champions League.
While the Gunners already faced potential ties with the likes of AC Milan, Villarreal and Lyon, their quest for Europa League glory just got that bit harder with Atletico Madrid, Napoli and Borussia Dortmund entering the competition.
Arsene Wenger’s side have had a largely straightforward time of things in the tournament so far, able to field young players such as Reiss Nelson and Ainsley Maitland-Niles and give them a chance to develop.
However, as Arsenal progress further it will be intriguing to see if their approach changes, with squads like that surely not enough to go all the way in the competition.
With Manchester United managing to win the Europa League last season and Liverpool reaching the final the year before, punters may have been keen to have a flutter on Arsenal, though their Europa League betting odds could shift dramatically depending on who they come up against in Monday’s draw.
If Wenger’s tendency to trust youth continues, expect a big name to make easy work of them in the last 32 – and this arguably seems the most likely outcome if Arsenal want to do without the extra mid-week fixtures.
Few take the Europa League particularly seriously as a competition itself, with United’s main aim of winning the trophy last season to help them qualify for the Champions League again.
With so many big names to contend with in a more competitive Europa League this year, however, Arsenal may well find their best route back to Europe’s top table is to do what, until last season at least, they do best – finish in the top four.