Arsenal were handed two mammoth trips across the continent in Friday’s Europa League group stage draw while Chelsea will be confident of progressing with ease.
Unai Emery, a three-time Europa League champion with Sevilla, will lead the Gunners on an 8,000 mile round-trip to Azerbaijan and Ukraine for games against Qarabag and Vorskla Poltava on October 4 and November 29. Portuguese side Sporting Lisbon completed Group E.
Maurizio Sarri’s first European campaign with Chelsea will see them play in Group L alongside Greek side PAOK, BATE Borisov of Belarus and Vidi in Hungary. The Gunners crashed out in the semi-finals of last season’s competition to eventual champions Atletico Madrid but face a tough task early on this time round.
Qarabag were in the Champions League last season and claimed memorable draws against Atletico that sent them crashing out of the competition.Portuguese club Sporting are also a danger and have started their domestic campaign unbeaten, despite a troublesome summer that saw seven players cancel their contracts following an attack by fans at the training ground last season.