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Arsenal fancied to make their mark in the Europa League

Europa League, Match Preview, News


Arsenal kick-off their Europa League campaign on Thursday aiming to make a statement that they are a force to be reckoned with this season.

The Gunners start their campaign against FC Vorskla at the Emirates Stadium, before facing successive away games against Qarabag and Sporting Lisbon.

New manager Unai Emery will be hoping to use his Europa League winning experience with Sevilla to guide Arsenal to victory this term.

While Premier League betting offers for Arsenal list them as around 80/1 shots to finish top of the pile domestically, they are as low as 7/1 to win the Europa League.

Read on as we look at Arsenal’s three Group E opponents.


Sporting Lisbon

Portuguese club Sporting have started their domestic campaign unbeaten, despite a chaotic summer that saw seven players cancel their contracts following an attack by fans at the training ground last season.

They have featured regularly in the Europa League since its inception in 2009/10, playing in the competition proper on seven previous occasions and the group stage in five of those.

They reached the semi-finals in 2011/12, when they won all eight home fixtures, and progressed to the quarter-finals last season after transferring from the Champions League group stage.

Sporting have made a solid start to the new campaign, winning three and drawing one of their first four matches this term. They are second favourites behind Arsenal to finish top of the group.


FC Vorskla

Vorskla finished third in the Ukrainian top flight last season – their highest finish since 1996/97.

They will be playing in the group stages of a European competition for only the second time in their history.

Back in 2011/12 they finished bottom of a Europa League group containing Standard Liege, Hannover and Copenhagen without winning a game.

Vorskla are currently fifth in the Ukrainian Premier League, nine points behind leaders Shakhtar Donetsk after eight games. They can be backed at around 40/1 to win Group E.


Qarabag

The Azerbaijani champions missed out on a place in this season’s Champions League group stage with a qualifying defeat against BATE Borisov.

They subsequently defeated Moldovan team FC Sheriff 3-1 on aggregate to book their place in the Europa League.

Qarabag played Chelsea in the Champions League group stages last season – losing 6-0 at Stamford Bridge and 4-0 at home.

They have won two and drawn one of their opening three games in the Azerbaijan Premier League. Bookmakers rate them as an 18/1 chance to claim top spot in the group.


Conclusion

Arsenal must travel 10,000 miles in the group stage, but they are still heavily fancied to reach the last 32 of the competition.

Sporting will undoubtedly be their toughest opponents and the two matches against the Portuguese side will probably determine who wins the group.

The likes of Chelsea and AC Milan will fancy their chances of Europe League success this season, but Arsenal are capable of going all the way if they play to their potential.

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