The Europa League group stage has been and gone, and, if nothing else, it’s been a novel experience.

If fans were dreading that the Europa League wouldn’t be anywhere near as stimulating and significant as the Champions League, they were proven right. At times, the competition has lived up to its seedy reputation as a low-quality, low-interest grind for teams of Arsenal’s stature.

Yet, this year’s group stage hasn’t been without incident. While Arsenal comfortably topped their group to reach the knockout stage, there have been some moments of interest.

So as we look ahead to Monday’s round of 32 draw, here are five lessons and highlights from the group stage.


1. Arsenal’s spectacular goals

With the shackles off and expectations low, the Arsenal fringe players weren’t shy of showing off a bit in front of goal.

At times, Arsenal needed those moments of brilliance to turn a tight game into a victory.

It was away to Red Star Belgrade that Olivier Giroud produced one of the best goals he’s ever scored in an Arsenal shirt. That overhead kick, which finished off a wonderful team move involved Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott, came just days after he won the Puskas Award for his scorpion kick against Crystal Palace.

He could well be one of next year’s nominations as well.

The 6-0 win over BATE Borisov also had several wonderful goals. Debuchy’s screamer, Wilshere’s quick-feet and Mohamed Elneny’s curler were the highlights of that victory, as the Arsenal player fully revelled in the dead rubber scenario.