Europa league group stage draw datesAugust 31, 2018
Arsenal will face Sporting CP, Qarabag and FC Vorskla in their group for the UEFA Europa League this season following Friday’s draw in Monaco.
The Gunners’ Premier League rivals Chelsea will play PAOK, BATE Borisov and Vidi FC.
Sevilla, who won the Europa League three years running from 2014 to 2016, will meet Krasnodar, Standard Liege and Akhisarspor.
See the draw in full below.
Bayer LeverkusenLudogoretsFC ZurichAEK Larnaca
Red Bull SalzburgCelticRB LeipzigRosenborg
Zenit St. PetersburgFC KopenhagenBordeauxSlavia Prague
AnderlechtFenerbahceDinamo ZagrebSpartak Trnava
ArsenalSporting CPQarabagFC Vorskla
OlympiakosAC MilanReal BetisF91 Dudelange
VillarrealRapid ViennaSpartak MoscowRangers
LazioMarseilleEintracht FrankfurtApollon Limassol
Dynamo KievAstanaRennesFK Jablonec
ChelseaPAOKBATE BorisovVidi FC
The group stage fixtures will be played on Thursdays, with the dates scheduled to be September 20, October 4, October 25, November 8, November 29 and December 13.
Sporting could prove tricky opponents for Arsenal and a rival for top spot in Group E, but the Gunners should be confident of progressing ahead of Qarabag and Vorskla.
The long away trips to Ukraine and Azerbaijan will do them no favours, though:
Their recent history in Ukraine won’t give them much encouragement, either:
It could be a difficult early test for manager Unai Emery, who will need to make use of his squad depth to ensure the Gunners progress while minimising the impact on their domestic efforts.
As for Chelsea, there should be little standing in their way of top spot in Group L.
Although the travelling required of the Blues isn’t as demanding as Arsenal’s, ESPN FC’s Liam Twomey believes Maurizio Sarri will look at his youth and fringe players to see them through:
Sports journalist Stefan Bienkowski thinks Celtic might have a good chance of progressing from Group B, though colleague Ross Dunbar suggested Salzburg will be difficult opponents:
For a Celtic side that missed out on the UEFA Champions League at the hands of AEK Athens, it’s far from guaranteed they’ll be capable of besting the Austrian side.
As for Steven Gerrard’s Rangers, Villarreal, Rapid Vienna and Spartak Moscow will give them plenty to think about. Like Celtic, they’ll need to be at their best to progress.