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September 2018
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Arsenal in the Europa League. It’s a long way to go.

by Tony Attwood

Shock horror, for if it is Arsenal it is a problem.  And the problem is Arsenal have to travel to Qarabag in Azerbaijan and FC Vorskla in Ukraine. (And of course to Lisbon to see Sporting but even the most rabid anti-Arsenal journalist is struggling to find that journey a problem).

But for the other two the story can be put across as an issue of disruptive travel just two days before important league games if

a) The same players who go to Azerbaijan and the Ukraine for the Thursday game are also going to play on Sunday

b) The team is travelling economy class where the seats eternally get smaller and the passenger sitting next to you gets bigger each trip.

Neither is actually true, not least because the idea of a squad is that all the players stay fit and ready to play, which means they need games, and so these games will be ideal for them.  And then those players probably won’t be playing on Sunday.

Anyway… the opposition:

Last season Sporting came third in the Portuguese league

Pos Club P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Porto 34 28 4 2 82 18 +64 88
2 Benfica 34 25 6 3 80 22 +58 81
3 Sporting CP 34 24 6 4 63 24 +39 78
4 Braga 34 24 3 7 74 29 +45 75
5 Rio Ave 34 15 6 13 40 42 −2 51

They have started their season with these results

  • Moreirense 1 Sporting CP 3
  • Sporting CP 2 Vitoria de Setubal 1
  • Benfica 1 Sporting CP 1

Last season Qarabag ended up thus:

Pos Club P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Qarabağ (C) 28 20 5 3 37 13 +24 65
2 Gabala 28 14 7 7 43 26 +17 49
3 Neftçi Baku 28 14 4 10 39 28 +11 46
4 Zira 28 12 8 8 36 30 +6 44
5 Sumgayit 28 11 7 10 34 33 +1 40

Qarabag in Azabajan have started their season and have got a win and a draw thus far

Pos Club P W D L F A GD Pts
3 Sumgayit 3 1 1 1 5 4 +1 4
4 Gabala 3 1 1 1 5 3 +2 4
5 Qarabağ 2 1 1 0 3 1 +2 4
6 Sabail 3 1 0 2 2 6 −4 3
7 Keşla 3 0 1 2 3 5 −2 1

FC Vorskla of the Ukraine ended up like this in what is known as the “Championship round” of their national league…

Pos Club P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Shakhtar Donetsk (C) 32 24 3 5 71 24 +47 75
2 Dynamo Kyiv 32 22 7 3 64 25 +39 73
3 Vorskla Poltava 32 14 7 11 37 35 +2 49
4 Zorya Luhansk 32 11 10 11 44 44 0 43
5 FC Mariupol 32 10 9 13 38 41 −3 39
6 Veres Rivne 32 7 14 11 28 30 −2 35

As can be seen it is pretty much a two club league and Vorskla were not part of it.

It is difficult to imagine what could have been a particularly tricky draw for us, but the draw we have got should ensure that some of the games, if not all of them, give Arsenal the chance to keep exploring the talents of the youngsters and reserves in the squad.

And speaking of which, in the League Cup Arsenal play Brentford on 25 September with the usual 7.45pm kick off.

As for Tottenham they have now applied to play their League Cup tie with Watford in Milton Keynes.  New WHL is seemingly not yet safe, and there is a boxing match at Wembley.  Tottenham could have applied for the game to be played at Watford’s ground, which would have got more of a crowd, but they refused to do this.

Their reasoning was that they would only get 10% of the tickets at Watford’s ground, but will have 90% at MK Dons ground.   There is of course nothing wrong with MK Dons ground, although I have found parking a bit hit and miss, but it will be interesting to see what crowd they get if the game is moved north. (It’s junction 14 on the M1 if anyone is interested).

Here’s the full league cup draw

  • West Brom v Crystal Palace
  • Arsenal v Brentford
  • Burton Albion v Burnley
  • Wycombe v Norwich
  • Oxford United v Man City
  • West Ham v Macclesfield
  • Millwall v Fulham
  • Liverpool v Chelsea
  • Bournemouth v Blackburn
  • Preston v Middlesbrough
  • Wolves v Leicester
  • Tottenham v Watford
  • Blackpool v QPR
  • Everton v Southampton
  • Man Utd v Derby
  • Nottingham Forest v Stoke

More anon.  The final set of the upgrading of the site is happening soon.  If we do lose contact I’ll get things back and restored as fast as possible.

2 comments to Arsenal in the Europa League. It’s a long way to go.

  • Ferg

    September 25th then. Thanks Tony
    A tenner !

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    Without much a say and looking back at last season form of Arsenal in the Europa League Cup when they campaigned in the competition and reached the semifinal stage but lost out to Atletico de Madrid. Therefore, one cannot not see anything contrary to Arsenal emerging as the leaders of their group to move on to the knock out stages after all the six games of the first round matches are played despite that they’ll have to travel to long distances journey to Azabajan and Ukraine to honour match fixture dates in the competition. But Portugal’s Lisbon is not few as very far from London should not be a distance worry for Arsenal when they travel there for the return leg match away to Sporting CP. A match which Arsenal should win comfortably.

    So, generally, I can’t see Arsenal encountering any problem that will make them not to win all their six first round matches to top their group with comfortable ease. The only thing I don’t like is Arsenal allowing one of their should be Europa League Cup competition young player, the 18 year old Reiss Nelson of Arsenal PL2 team who the club is reported to have loaned out to Hoffenheim in Germany for a reported £500,000.00 loan fee paid to Arsenal but at the expense of having him in the club’s Europa League Cup squad this season. But to Nelson’s and Hoffenheim’s advantage to play in the Champions League. Hmmm.

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