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June 2021

Who Arsenal can play in the Europa, plus who to avoid and funny foreign names

By Billy the Dog McGraw, our Europa correspondent and expert on clubs we have never played before.

Billy will be accompanying Arsenal on all their matches as reserve pilot, guide, translator  and chief psychologist.

The Europa League group stages like the Champs League has Four Pots none of which are Pol Pot who led the Khmer Rouge from 1963 until 1997.   To confuse the two would be a serious error of judgement so I do hope you won’t do that.

If we look at the Uefa coefficients we can see Arsenal are so far ahead of the game they might as well give us the pot, sorry trophy, now – here are the top 10 rankings

  1. Arsenal (You know where they come from) coefficient 105.192
  2. FC Zenit Saint Petersburg (Russia) coefficient 87.106
  3. Lyon (France) coefficient 68.833
  4. Dynamo Kyiv (Ukraine) coefficient 67.526
  5. Villarreal (Spain) coefficient 64.999
  6. Athletic Bilbao (Spain) sometimes known in Uefa circles as Athletic Club for reasons that will not become clear at this point,  coefficient 60.999
  7. Lazio (Italy) coefficient 56.666
  8. AC Milan (Italy) coefficient 47.666
  9. Viktoria Plzeň (Czech Republic) coefficient 40.635
  10. Salzburg (Austria) coefficient 40.570

Everton are in 16th with 29.475, while near the bottom there is Chelsea Vitesse (Netherlands) on 9.212, but with an ever growing number of members of the Chelsea England squad (it is important to make it clear these days which Chelsea we are talking about of course so we shall adopt these names from here on to help keep things straightforward which is always important in these matters).

Best name prizes at this stage go to Nice (of course what with it being so, well, you know) and Sheriff Tiraspol who was I believe engaged in a long running battle with Robin Hood for the ownership of Nottingham Forest.  We’ll keep an eye on that, as they endlessly and boringly say on Radio 5.

So here are the pols.  Sorry the Pots.  We will of course play one each from pots 2, 3, and 4

Pot 1

  • Arsenal (that’s us)
    Zenit St Petersburg
    Dynamo Kiev
    Athletic Bilbao
    AC Milan
    Viktoria Plzen
    FC Salzburg

Pot 2

  • Steaua Bucharest
    BATE Borisov
    Everton (can’t play them as they are from Liverpool and its not allowed).
    Young Boys
    Real Sociedad
    Maccabi Tel-Aviv
    Lokomotiv Moscow
    Austria Wien
    Hertha Berlin

Pot 3

  • Astana
    Partizan Belgrade
    FC Koln
    NK Rijeka
    Vitoria Guimaraes
    Zulte Waregem
    Zorya Luhansk
    Sheriff Tiraspol (Nottingham)
    Hapoel Beer-Sheva

Pot 4

  • Apollon
    Istanbul Basaksehir
    Slavia Prague
    Red Star Belgrade
    FC Zlin
    AEK Athens
    FC Lugano
    Vardar Skopje

Now several people who know more about European football than I do have come up with this as a rather Nice choice of our run through the group stages…

Arsenal, Young Boys, Rosenborg, FC Lugano

with the back up of Austria Vienna in place of Young Boys and Zulte Waregem (NOT a wargame invention apparently but a Belgium club of whom Walter will undoubtedly be giving us the low down if we do get them) in place of Rosenborg.

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And of course because this is Arsenal there has to be pages of negativity and so the worst draw is also set out.

Arsenal, Marseille, Hoffenheim, Chelsea Vitesse

The talk is also that Nice are rather tasty in pot two complete with a reborn Mario Barlotelli firing on some if not always all cylinders.  Hoffenheim were the team knocked out by Liverpool! in the play off games and they are now considered the Europa League Official Banana Skin.  Also there are warnings against Hapoel Beer-Sheva as a serious club to avoid in the last pot.

There will of course also be a lot of chit chat about long distance matches, but generally speaking the further away the games are the more likely it is that our fridge players [shouldn’t that be fringe player – Tony] [no, they are the one’s frozen out of the “25”, do try to keep up – Billy] will be taking part.

As happened this year, whomsoever wins the competition, they will automatically enter the Champions League next season.

Posted keep you we shall.

[Is that last sentence quite correct? – Tony]

[It was said by my special assistant on this assignment so it must be – Billy]

Recent Pots

Henry Norris at the Arsenal



14 comments to Who Arsenal can play in the Europa, plus who to avoid and funny foreign names

  • Josif

    It would be funny if we get both Rosenborg and Istanbul in the group stage as the former have Bendtner as their striker and the latter have Clichy and Adebayor in their ranks.

    I’d like to see the group:

    Arsenal, Austria Wien, Rijeka, Lugano. I reckon that would give us an easy path to Round of 32 (Europa League has an extra Knockout Round).

    Also, that group of yours with Young Boys and Lugano is not possible given that both clubs are from Switzerland.

  • para

    Should be interesting this season, something different.

  • WalterBroeckx

    My favourite group would be Austria Wien, Zulte Waregem (whom I will present to you if that happens) and Vitesse. That would be two nearby trips for the Arsenal Belgium boys…

    But we will end up probably with the longest away opponents possible as usual…

  • Hisham

    What about this group;
    Maccabi Tel Aviv
    Istanbul Basaksehir

    That would be some mileage earned. Great if with have a National Geographic photographer with the team. Will look out for the trip videos later!

  • So basically, the teams to worry about would be Spurs, as they are not getting out of that group with Dortmund & Real Madrid, and also Roma as they are not likely to escape their group. Feyenoord along with the other CL drop outs pose minor risk, but over two legs I expect nothing less than victory.

    With most of the Pot one teams having cashed in their star quality some time ago, I do not see any real contest from the likes of these clubs in the latter stages and would be happy to pull the likes of Zenit off season )cold).

    However this is of little concern to me, I want the title and only the title, if we pick up the Europa League that is a bonus for me, the FA Cup is far more important and the League Cup looks like it isn’t prioritised as Wenger has gone for blooding young Guns via Arry “Houdini” Redknapp (stroke of Genius, he made Bale right?), good luck to Birms.

    Oh I loved the Pot joke, reminds me of May, and the quip about fridge players, well integrity doesn’t win trophies most of the time, but stifling players careers “Chelsea” isn’t cool either, so fair play.

    Ox? I wouldn’t like to see him go, he’ll end up a moses at the Blues and Alexis as I said, isn’t allowed to leave, nor is Mesut.

    So we offloaded my favourite goat, all I can say is we need a war horse then, Virgil Van Dijk is best suited as Laporte will want either of the Spanish giants, Roma will want to keep Manolas for a title challenge and at least the group stages of Champions League and their are question marks over his temperament.

    I think it could be done for around £40m and that would be ideal, he is worth every penny, combative, yet has a good reading of the game and timing of the challenge, pacey and right side. Bellerin can stay on the horizon for all he cares. Having just turned 26 my VERDICT – PEFECT FIT

    It will be down to the cronies responsible for transfers to make sure we get this done ahead of the likes of Liverpool who are likely making the most of the protracted transfer saga surrounding transfer request Phillipe, let the boy go, it’s a dream and the perfect move, he is the new Iniesta. I said this window would be swings and roundabouts and I also said he would move, I don’t like to be wrong, more than I love to be right. £120m is more than enough, £85m should have sealed it.

    So Draxler and Mahrez, Seri and Lemar. Well the latter two are being lined up by the super clubs and as I see it, Draxler is predomenently comfortable in Alexis’s position and MAhrez in the skills gap area. With Vardy targeted, another season holding onto MAhrez does not improve his value and with Drinkwater already on the move, I still believe the Hleb esque Algerian is a perfect counterbalance, it makes us Narrow, but neither wide man is a shabby crosser and I would expect everything to be fizzed across, Lacazzette misses it, Alexis wont. My VERDICT – PERFECT FIT

    I do not forsee any issue in regards to attracting either player afore mentioned due tot he skills gaps areas meaning they are near enough guaranteed starts. Moreover the serious competition over the CB is Liverpool, who do not have a consummate partner for the man and have a more long term goal and will be looking to add funds to their redevelopment plan, rather than invest all earning in the squad. a left winger “Draxler” may be a priority for the replacement of Coutinho, who can be replaced for the season at least by shifting Fiminio back one, and putting Mane up front, with Salah on the right, not too shabby, they still don’t have a second team and will have to balance their financial need for progression in the Champions League with their financial need to make the top four, Cup threat, near non existent.

    As for MAhrez, well nobody has a spot for him, Willian being targeted and Hazard surely ultimately bound for either Barca (was the Neymar sale to accommodate a left winger of substance to allow the competition with their arch rivals?).

    So as I said a lot hinges on bReal (who must surely be acknowledging that they need to shift CR7 up front, with Isco coming of age in central attacking midfield and the likes of Asensio and Vazquez showing promise. With Kovacic seemingly Surplus to requirements and Bale now proven most adept in behind a striker, Real will be mulling over their options in terms of incoming talent having vastly reduced their squad.

    They may be more conscious of deciding on whether Bale is a happy bunny a LW/inverted at RW or whether Isco may have to make way at AM. On the right they can bed in the new boys, but that left wing and CB situation will need addressing. Meanwhile E P Aubamayang’s whine becomes a wail.

    My VERDICT – they haven’t even started yet, with £11m (loan fee) – £45m (permanent move) for James Rodriguez, £65m for Morata, £26m for Danillo and the offloading once again of Fabio C that’s £115m in and 2 key targets E Hazard and D De Gea plus one named defector E P Aubamayang and a CB, likely bidding war for Laporte. Real have spend a paltry £45m by their standards, so that gives them OH about £300m of private investment capital to chuck about. I would expect Benzema to be offloaded if possible and don’t be so sure Bale is not still likely to move in the opposite direction to De Gea.

    The key is to get Virgil before Liverpool cave in, then wait for Klopp to go for Draxler, meet his team and Mahrez’s simultaneously, inflating Draxlers value, while Chelsea look at Vardy, the Chinamen won’t be able to put his arm around Ryads shoulder and whisper “you’re mine” this time.

    if we address these issues, we may be able to get away with Debouchy or Chambers at RB and we may be able to (with a back 3) field Monreal, but again, Stoke showed the question marks there.

    Better to boost the ballast and ship in a LB and RB, Aurier is a good player and a war with Spurs goes one way (stadium build Mwuhahaha) I also believe that West Ham should be used to more or less flesh out the William Carvalho deal, then we swoop, he obviously fancies London (state aid cash won’t be enough, but you can have Welbeck, Walcott, and Elneny instead, we know you want to say yes Slavan, because your Job relies on it and I want you to stay, but not enough to let you have the DM with the Euro to his name) Walcott should play the Owen role at Liverpool, it would make them so deadly and give them the rotation they are going to sorely miss with hat high press, mammoth tempo game.

    Santi set for a return, means no need for a CM, as if he and Jack can at least make half a season each, we are good there and I would prefer it no other way.

    So that’s CB, RB, RW and a DM covered, with budet, all available, all proven. Kroenke, get your chequebook out.if we were to prise a very pacey crossing left back from Lyon as well. We could saunter up to Butland, who for me, with Szczesny gone, is the pick of the bunch and could be set to be World No:1

    Gibbs cannot be finalised until we have ensure cover, but looks to be all but complete.

    Walcott should go ahead of Giroud and Theo isn’t getting picked for England, everyone wants game time, and he’s not getting it on my RW, that’s for sure.

    Reiss Nelson, well, well, well, I never usually miss them, but this boy is special, we have our RW understudy, to go with the left wing understudy Iwobi, there is a GOD. plus we have Willock, who could be either a full back or a RB, Bellerin anybody?!


    Walcott – West Ham, he gets the no:9, Liverpool, 9 or 11 £30m they’ll both chew of their arm Slavan for his job, Klopp to replace Coutino, you don’t say no to Barca, maybe Real (before), never to Barca, the player always has the final word.

    Welbeck, I mean, it’s demeaning and devaluing, I don’t trust him other than to start against pot 3 & 4 in Europa, I worry for him in the tackle against Doncaster in FA and I’m not sure I want to waste the money on the bench for the League, leaving the EPL Cup and I want to at least try theur, the pressure, it’s the pressure with the top clubs, mid table lad, go and shine, his finishing is natural for England, he needs that love, none here sorry.

    Debouchy – I was dismayed at the purchase then, Santon yes, Debouchy no, I am aghast now, anywhere will do, just offload the wages and get what you can.

    Gibbs – It’s a bit of a Clichy and something like a Walcott, if the Gaffer says you can leave, my love for you will go on (Celine Dion) but from afar.

    Monreal – love his experience, but again, it’s just too much, but before he goes we need a left back, that is mightily tricky, but seriously, Gibbs has more CL experience, is faster, and tackles in the same questionable place, just on the edge of the right corner of 18, just one has ARSENAL in his DNA.

    4 in 5 if possible

    4 out 5 if possible

    Nothing wrong with my maths, we can outspend any club vying for the same player and by doing so create sales, it’s an unfallable formula.

  • On the Europa issue, it’s the perfect ground to learn to beat the mid table consistently, with greater protection from leg breakers.

    It may be a good thing in itself, it will allow us to focus on the league, give the entire squad a workout without being to challenging and if we can get compensated for all the cheating, since we suffered, potentially Everton also, then gr8!

    If there’s any justice in the world.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Bate Barisov, Koln and Red Star.

    I sure like Koln as it is only 1h15 minutes away from where I live.

    Let us hope we get some tickets for this match for our supporters club in Belgium

  • Josif

    BATE Borisov (ex-club of Alex Hleb).

    1.FC Köln aka Cologne (ex-club of Lukas Podolski and our sometimes preseason friends).

    Crvena Zvezda aka Red Star Belgrade (ex-club of Vladimir Petrović Pižon).

    Zvezda have knocked out the Russian side Kuban Krasnodar. They have been European champions back in 1991 and should have won European Supercup if they had a chance to play Manchester United either at the neutral venue or the second leg on their own soil (the one-legged Supercup was played at Old Trafford because of sanctions imposed at Yugoslavian clubs but Zvezda were a class above United back then and only poor conversion rate kept Ferguson from a defeat, and I mean a big one).

    Zvezda had been in the shadows of their arch-rivals Partizan for years but their luck “suddenly” changed when their life-long fan Aleksandar Vučić became the absolute ruler in Serbia. Still, Partizan managed to win the league last season in a two-horse race.

    After the disolution of Yugoslavia, Zvezda haven’t had too much success in Europe. They did knock out Leicester in 2000-01 (1:1 in England, 3:1 in Belgrade) but lost to Bolton in UEFA League 2007-08 (0:1 at home, back in days when UEFA League Group had consisted of five teams who played just four games, against two opponents at home and with two away so Zvezda didn’t play at Reebok Stadium).

    I reckon we will have to put our strongest second string to secure the progress beyond the group stage.

  • Josif

    I will just add one more thing:

    Zvezda and 1.FC Köln played one of the most heartbreaking matches in UEFA Cup 1989-90. Zvezda won the first leg 2:0 only to lose in Germany 3:0. If you ask Zvezda fans about that game, they will tell you the name of the referee with the same precision and hate like I would say: “Mike Dean!” if someone mentioned the Chelsea game in 2015-16. The first leg was one of the first games ever I’ve seen on TV with my Yugoslavian support for Zvezda (the club I grew to hate since then to the level I’d probably support Tottenham against them) and brilliant yet lazy Dejan Savićević scored brace. When the Germans won the second leg, I started crying so my father had to console me.

  • Well that couldn’t have gone much better, that’s us into the last 32 and surely 16 as well. 😀

    Group A

    M. Tel-Aviv
    Slavia Praha

    Group B

    Dynamo Kyiv
    Young Boys

    Group C

    İstanbul Başakşehir

    Group D

    Austria Wien

    Group E


    Group F

    Lokomotiv Moskva

    Group G

    H. Beer-Sheva

    Group H

    Crvena zvezda

    Group I

    Vitória SC

    Group J


    Group K

    Zulte Waregem

    Group L

    Real Sociedad

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Is Yoda Billy’s special assistant ? Then I have a very good feeling about this !
    or am I mistaken ,and its just some Welshman ?

  • Hisham

    Quite a mix bag draw, this one. There goes my Nat. Geo tour 🙁

    Anyways, we are going to places where our players came from; Hleb, Podolski, but not Petrovic?

    I fancy our chances here. Good for the “second stringers” to develop their game experience.

  • Ox wants to go to Chelsea or Liverpool does he? Let him, one less but remember the English player requirement £40m plus clauses and percentfe of resale profit! Let theo leave and pet owpbi understudy Alexis and Ryan understudy out acquisition!

    I cannot siffe fools any longer!

  • Jjgsol

    I hope that the players and the club take these games seriously and do not allow complacency and negligence take over.