Arsenal are headed for the Europa League for the first time, so here’s what you need know about the Champions League kiddies table and what Arsenal can expect.
At the final whistle of the season, it was clear – Arsenal will miss out on the Champions League after 19 years and have to settle for it’s lesser twin, the Europa League.
The good thing for Arsenal is that by finishing fifth in the league, the Gunners will enter the competition at the group stage, avoiding additional travelling during pre-season for qualifiers.
Who can Arsenal draw in their group?
With 48 teams entering group stage that consists of 12 groups of four, the Gunners are all but sure to be placed in the first pot with the strongest teams that qualify.
Already known qualifiers for group stages are: Villarreal, FC Koln, Lazio, Atalanta, Vitoria de Guimaraes, Lokomotiv Moscow, Zulte Waregem and Vitesse.
Manchester United are also guaranteed a place in the group stage but if they win this year’s final they will enter Champions League instead.
There will be six more clubs from Spain, France, Germany, Turkey, Switzerland and Ukraine who will qualify for the group stage directly, and the rest of the clubs entering the group stage will be made up from the Europa League 2017/18 qualifiers and the 10 losers from the Champions League 2017/18 playoff’s.
The draw for group stage will take place on Friday 25 August 2017.
Group stage games start on Thursday 14 September and last until Thursday 7 December.
The Europa League offers a bit of a different experience for clubs and is considered to be much easier to cope with than the Champions League, although there is a history of Premier League clubs competing in the Europa League suffering in domestic competition due to the lack of rest after European clashes.
Though not as quality-packed as the Champions League, teams in the Europa League take this competition seriously and there are plenty of examples of ‘David v Goliath’ games when stronger teams have underestimated their opponents.
Luckily that’s not something Arsenal have a habit of doing, eh?