Can Arsenal Make It Third Time Lucky in the Europa League?

By on October 26, 2019

When a team can no longer finish in the automatic qualification places for the Champions League in their domestic division, the Europa League takes on extra importance.

Nowhere is this truer than at Arsenal, who have missed out on the top four in the Premier League in each of the last three seasons. That means the Gunners lost their seat at the top table in Europe and their place in elite club competition, but have since come close to sneaking in via a backdoor route.

In Arsene Wenger’s final season in charge, Arsenal reached the Europa League semis. Under Unai Emery – widely regarded as a specialist following a hat-trick of consecutive wins during his days with Sevilla – Arsenal went one better and contested the 2019 final.

During both of their Europa League campaigns to date, the Gunners have lost out to the eventual winners in Atletico Madrid and London rivals Chelsea. They have been there or thereabouts, but ultimately come up short at the business end of the competition.

Yet those near misses are precisely the reason why Arsenal are 6/1 favourites in the online football betting on which team will win the Europa League outright this term. In Emery, they have a manager who has steered the sides he’s coached to four finals in five years.

The Spaniard has a wealth of attacking talent at his disposal. The Gunners added Ivory Coast wideman Nicolas Pepe to a frontline which also includes Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, so there’s plenty of firepower.

The strikers are proven at European level after prolific spells with Lyon in France and Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund respectively. Emery is also giving youth a chance both in continental competition and domestic matches this term.

England Under-19 international Bukayo Saya has already scored a Europa League goal from the wing this season. He is the latest in a number of Arsenal academy product to get some game time.

Emery has also used Ainsley Maitland-Niles at right back or wingback, and Joe Willock in midfield. Summer signings such as Kieran Tierney, big money buy Pepe, Gabriel Martinelli, David Luiz who played in the Chelsea team that defeated the Gunners 4-1 in the Europa League final in May, and Dani Ceballos are all still settling in.

Provided Arsenal continue their plain sailing through the group stage of the competition this term, then they remain clear contenders. Handsome wins over Eintracht Frankfurt and Belgian side Standard Liege combined with a comeback win over Vitoria last week have already put them in firm command of the group.

Sterner tests lie ahead in Europe of course, especially when third place Champions League teams from their own group stage drop into this competition. The Gunners have been largely equal to such challenges, however.

Arsenal beat Serie A side Napoli – the first team to defeat early Premier League leaders Liverpool in 90 minutes this season – and Valencia during their run to the Europa League final last term. In the previous campaign, they beat AC Milan home and away in the knockout phase, so fellow high-profile clubs aren’t an issue.

Emery has the players, pedigree and knowhow to guide the Gunners to Europa League glory. There is every chance of making it third time lucky.