Arsenal will discover their 2022/23 Europa League group stage opponents on Friday as the draw takes place in Istanbul, Turkey.
The final round of Europa League qualifiers were completed on Thursday night, while Qarabag, Bodo/Glimt, Red Star Belgrade, Trabzonspor, Dynamo Kyiv and PSV Eindhoven dropped down into the competition from the Champions League.
The Gunners, who finished fifth in the Premier League last season, are back in European competition after missing out altogether last term. They will be in Pot 1 for Friday’s draw, enabling them to avoid the likes of Serie A pair AS Roma and Lazio as well as Braga and Red Star Belgrade.
Furthermore, Arsenal can’t be paired with the other English club in the competition at the moment – Manchester United – as per UEFA rules, but the Red Devils are also in Pot 1, with the group stage slated to get underway very shortly on September 8 and conclude in eight weeks instead of the usual 12.
Below are the confirmed Pots for the Europa League draw.
Pot 1: AS Roma, Manchester United, Arsenal, Lazio, Braga, Red Star Belgrade, Dynamo Kyiv, Olympiacos
Pot 2: Feyenoord, PSV Eindhoven, Rennes, Monaco, Real Sociedad, Qarabag, Malmo, Ludogorets
Pot 3: Sheriff, Real Betis, Midtjylland, Bodo/Glimt, Ferencvaros, Union Berlin, Freiburg, Fenerbahce
Pot 4: Nantes, HJK, Sturm Graz, AEK Larnaca, Omonia, Zurich, Union Saint-Gilloise, Trabzonspor
With that out of the way, here is a look at what would be the best and worst-case scenarios for Arsenal and Mikel Arteta when the draw is all said and done.
There are some strong teams in Pot 2, with Real Sociedad, perhaps the standout, in addition to AS Monaco, who have transferred over from the Champions League after losing their qualifier. Of course, Arsenal have bad memories of their last encounter with the Ligue 1 side in the 2014/15 season, and they remain a decent outfit even after the loss of Aurelien Tchouameni.
Feyenoord and PSV Eindhoven are two of the highest-ranked teams in Pot 2. Whilst a trip to the Netherlands to face the latter would certainly be ideal for the Gunners as fans would surely relish the chance to offer former Manchester United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy a warm reception at the Emirates Stadium, Swedish outfit Malmo would be a good team to be paired up with.
From Pot 3, facing Danish side Midtjylland and two games against Europa League debutants, Union Saint-Gillloise from Pot 4 would certainly represent a dream outcome for Arsenal in terms of travel and the standard of opponents Arteta’s side would be expected to pick up maximum points against.
The first name that jumps out from Pot 2 that Arsenal will surely want to avoid is Qarabag, and that is solely down to travel. Twice during the 2018/2019 season, the Gunners embarked on a 5,000-mile round trip to Azerbaijan – the less said about the second trip, the better – and it wouldn’t be an ideal scenario to embark on such a long journey during a very hectic start to the season.
There’s a case that Real Betis are the team to avoid from Pot 3 as they are the reigning Copa del Rey champions and would certainly pose a threat to Arsenal, especially at the Benito Villamarin Stadium. A trip to Cyprus to face Omonia Nicosia could prove to be a tricky one.