Arsenal’s Europa League group stage verdict: Gunners handed tricky clash with last year’s semi-finalists Eintracht Frankfurt, but progress should be simple with Standard Liege and Vitoria SC making up numbers in Group F
- Unai Emery’s men have drawn Eintracht Frankfurt, Standard Liege and Vitoria
- Arsenal will hope to win the competition after reaching the final last season
- Frankfurt could pose the biggest threat in the battle to qualify for the next round
Arsenal will be hopeful of progressing from the Europa League group stage after being drawn alongside Eintracht Frankfurt, Standard Liege and Vitoria SC.
Unai Emery’s men will be hoping to go one better this season, having fallen at the final hurdle in May after a heavy 4-1 defeat to London rivals Chelsea in Baku.
The Gunners had topped their group last time around, dropping just two points in their first six clashes.
Arsenal will be hopeful of progressing from Group F after drawing Eintracht Frankfurt, Standard Liege and Vitoria SC
Arsenal have avoided several other big guns in the draw, having been placed in Pot 1 alongside the likes of Roma, Porto and Sevilla.
But with tricky trips to Germany and Belgium to come, the Londoners may once again require another flying start to to the opening round to kick start the new European campaign.
Matchday one: 19 September
Eintracht Frankfurt (A)
Matchday two: 3 October
Standard Liege (H)
Matchday three: 24 October
Vitoria SC (H)
Matchday four: 7 November
Vitoria SC (A)
Matchday five: 28 November
Eintracht Frankfurt (H)
Matchday six: 12 December
Standard Liege (A)
GROUP F OPPONENTS
The German side had reached the semi-finals of the competition last season, but were eventually knocked out on penalties by eventual winners Chelsea. But a similar journey may be one step too far for Arsenal’s opponents, after the sales of star strikers Luka Jovic and Sebastian Haller to Real Madrid and West Ham respectively.
The Frankfurt wide man was an integral part of the club’s heroics in Europe last season, and could prove a thorn in the side of Arsenal’s shaky defence.
Eintracht Frankfurt have lifted the UEFA Cup on one occasion, when they beat fellow Bundesliga outfit Borussia Monchengladbach on away goals across a two-legged final.
Manager Adi Hutter will be hoping his team can push Arsenal all the way and qualify for the round of 32, likely at the expense of Standard Liege and Vitoria.
Filip Kostic will likely play an integral part in Frankfurt’s bid to progress from Group F
Standard Liege currently sit top of the Belgian Pro League, having suffered defeat just once in their opening five fixtures. The club earned their progression into the Europa League after finishing third in the division’s championship play-offs, but fell short of Champions League football by ten points. Last season, Standard had crashed out in the Europa League group stage, with Sevilla and Krasnodar progressing at their expense.
The Belgian striker has been in red-hot form so far this season, with four goals scored in Standard’s first five domestic games. Emond had also netted twice in Standard’s underwhelming Europa League campaign last year.
Standard lifted the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup in 1982, but have notably struggled to impact European football across recent seasons. The Belgian outfit reached the Europa League quarter finals back in the 2009/10 campaign.
Michel Preud’homme will be hopeful of leading his side out of the group stage, but will likely falter with Arsenal and Frankfurt certainly favourites to reach the next round.
Michel Preud’homme’s side will struggle to qualify ahead of Arsenal and Eintracht Frankfurt
Portuguese side Vitoria SC will almost certainly be overwhelming favourites to finish rock bottom of the group. Their qualification for the group stage was confirmed on Thursday night after a narrow 1-0 aggregate victory against Romanian side FCSB.
The former Liverpool youngster returned to his home nation of Portugal after failing to breakthrough into the first team at Anfield. Following a loan spell at Braga, after he had moved to Porto on a free transfer, Teixeria now represents Vitoria – and has scored three goals in all competitions so far this season.
Vitoria have progressed through the Europa League qualifying rounds to reach the group stage on four separate occasions. However, the Portuguese side have failed to reach the next round since the 1996/97 UEFA Cup campaign, which ended in defeat to Anderlecht.
Arsenal will certainly not be fearing taking on the Portuguese side in their bid to top the group, but Vitoria may well be spurred on to a shock result by their European struggles.
Arsenal will travel 1,450 miles during the group stage
Portuguese side Vitoria SC will be aiming to surprise many and progress to next round
Where will Arsenal finish in Group F?
Arsenal will certainly be confident of topping the group, although potentially tricky away trips to Germany and Belgium await.
If the Gunners can ensure they remain tight defensively, their attacking prowess carries the fire power to ease them through to the next round.