Arsenal is finally back in the European competition, and this might be the season where they can finally end their European Trophy drought. Mikel Arteta’s boys look sharp, well drilled and focused and probably have made the best start to the season. Leading the Premier League table after 6 gameweeks and losing out just one game speaks volumes about the team. The new signings have not only added a lot of quality but are also helping the existing players to raise their game. If the show by Arsenal till now has been a trailer of what is to come, then the end looks very fruitful.
They have been handed an exciting group with FC Zurich, PSV and Bodo. Arsenal begins its Europa League campaign with a trip to Zurich. Arteta and his boys have been under a period of transition for some time and now look perfectly moulded in the Arteta system, ready to challenge for trophies. After just missing out on the top 4 last season, this could be a blessing in disguise for Arsenal, as they enter the Europa League as the strongest contenders helping them to be closer to a trophy.
Can Arsenal continue their domination in Europe?
The first 5 game weeks of the Premier League and Arsenal sat on the top of the throne undented with 5 wins and 15 points. No other Premier League team was flawless by that time of the season, and Arsenal’s domination was well and genuinely announcing its arrival. Last weekend was the only time Arsenal was actually challenged by a team, and that was their biggest rivals for the Europa League Title, Manchester United. The game brought back the memories of classic Arsenal vs Manchester United clashes and with both teams ready to give their all on the pitch.
Arteta has built a squad that operates fluidly in his system, and each player understands his role perfectly. The possession control and clinical approach have been praised by every fan. The addition of Jesus up top has just been the final piece of Arteta’s jigsaw. Arsenal in this transfer window were very clear about their targets, and they very well got what they wanted. The recruitments now prove worth every penny that Arsenal has spent this season and will continue to make the fans relish over the course of the season.
Handing over the captaincy to Odegaard has been one of the best decisions before the start of the season as the young Norwegian attacking midfielder is leading by example. The constant communication on the pitch has been outstanding and helped the team to execute the plans to be perfect. Also, one cannot miss the return of Saliba, who just looks like a new signing but a signing worth a lot. The defender has everything required in his locker to be the best in his position. His defensive work rate and the ability to move the ball are just tremendous. He adds another dimension to the backline, allowing Ben White to be pushed wide and help in the attack.
Arteta could test his bench strength in the midweek fixture as the players on the bench are waiting to prove a point and push for the starting spot. It will be interesting to see if Emile Smith-Rowe could make it to the match with his injury concerns and whether he starts the game or not.
Zurich to change their fate?
Unlike Arsenal, Zurich has had a very poor start to the season. They sit at the 9th position in the 10 teams-table in the Swiss League. They have managed just 2 points in the opening 7 games, which comes as a surprise to many after this team are the defending champions of their league.
FC Zurich were handed a UEFA Champions League play-off spot after winning the title last season. They entered the playoffs in the second round, where they faced Qarabag FK. They did lose the first tie in a goal galore by 3-2 and only managed to share the spoils in the reverse fixture, losing the round on aggregate. This pushed them into the Europa League qualifiers, where they got through Linfield pretty comfortably and then got the better of Hearts to enter the Europa League finally.
In the transfer window they did sell highly rated striker Gnonto to Leeds and now will be looking for goal options elsewhere. Their 3 at the back formation could be the one to annoy Arsenal. This could be a decisive battle between Arsenal’s attack and Zurich’s defense. Will Arsenal be able to be as fluid in the Europe as their performance in England?
If Zurich can manage to escape with some points from this match, it could mark to be a season-changing moment for them and will then hope to get back their season on track. Arsenal, after a tiring encounter against Manchester United, will have to rotate their squad, considering they even have to play Everton on Sunday, and it will be on Zurich if they can take advantage of the same.
Zurich: Brecher; Omeragic, Kryeziu, Mets; Boranijasevic, Dzemaiii, Selnaes, Marchesano, Guerrero; Viunnyk, Avdijaj.
Arsenal: Turner; Tierney, Holding, White, Tomiyasu; Xhaka, Viera; Martinelli, Odegaard, Marquinhos; Nketiah.