How seriously should Arsenal take the Europa League?
Can Emery guide Gunners to victory?
European life after Arsene Wenger begins for Arsenal this week as they take on Ukrainian side Vorskla Poltava in the Europa League. The Gunners haven’t been Wenger-less on the continent since Stewart Houston took charge of the 1995 Cup Winners’ Cup Final.
Emery’s European record
There’s no getting away from Emery’s incredible record in this competition. The Frenchman won the Europa League in three consecutive seasons with Sevilla in 2014, 2015 and 2016. He even reached the quarter-final and semi-final in a previous stint with Valencia in the late 2000s.
Part of his success in the tournament has come as a result of his consistency. Emery has never lost a group stage match in the Europa League. He won all three home fixtures in his last group stage campaign with Sevilla during the 2014-15 season. He won 10 of his 12 home knockout matches with the Spanish club too.
Premier League threat
Six doesn’t go into four in the Premier League. Two sides will miss out on the Champions League via the domestic route. With Emery still righting the wrongs that blighted Arsenal under Wenger, he could choose to prioritise the Europa League as a competition he knows well.
At the moment it stands to reason that the Gunners are the likeliest side to miss out on the top-four. They’re in transition, they look shaky at the back and star striker Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang has yet to get going this season.
Their odds reflect that. Arsenal are second-favourites to win the UEL against sixth-favourites to finish inside the top-four. At the moment they appear better suited as a cup side than league competitors, where they still struggle against the top teams and look far from convincing away from home.
Strength in depth
There’s no doubting the quality of Arsenal’s squad. But it has plenty of depth to it as well. The likes of Lucas Torreira, Matteo Guendouzi, Granit Xhaka, Aaron Ramsey and Mohamed Elneny can’t fit into the midfield each week in the Premier League, though.
That means at least one of the quintet should be fresh and raring to prove themselves in the Europa League each week. The same goes for Bernd Leno, Danny Welbeck and a whole host of younger players, some of whom showed last season that they’re capable of pushing for a first-team place.
Each player will be eager to impress Emery in the manager’s first season at the club, which should lend itself nicely to the UEL.
Click here for the latest Europa League odds from Coral.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing