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Arsenal have been drawn against PSV Eindhoven, FK Bodø/Glimt and FC Zürich in the Europa League group stage, marking their return after a one-year absence.
The Gunners were the first team drawn out in the showcase as teams found out who their opposition would be en route to the final in Budapest.
Bodø/Glimt and Zürich, champions of their respective divisions, completed a geographically tight-knit group, which is due to kick-off on the 8th September.
Arsenal come into the tournament as favourites, ahead of Premier League rivals United and José Mourinho’s AS Roma, knowing that lifting the trophy in May qualifies them automatically for the 2023/24 Champions League campaign.
The North Londoners have three opponents to overcome before then, all keen to leave an impression and thwart Arsenal’s chances of European glory. Here’s the lowdown on Group A:
Manager: Ruud van Nistelrooy
Key Player: Cody Gakpo
Stadium (Capacity): Phillips Stadium (36,500)
Distance: 291 miles
A team that requires no introduction, PSV enter the group as second favourites after a run that saw them run deep into the Europa Conference League quarter-finals, where they were beaten 2-1 by Leicester City over two legs.
Led by German manager Roger Schmidt last season, now in charge of Benfica, ‘the Boeren’ have welcomed Van Nistelrooy up from their youth set-up to lead the new PSV era, starring exciting names such as Cody Gakpo, Noni Madueke and Ibrahim Sangaré.
Despite a positive start to their campaign, including a Super Cup win versus rivals Ajax, PSV were unable to stretch their good form beyond Rangers in the Champions League play-off, relegating them to the Europa League for a second consecutive season.
The last time both clubs met will bring back positive memories for the Eredivisie side who knocked out Arsenal from the Champions League Round of 16 back in 2007.
The Gunners, keen to be avenged, have the superior record over the Dutchmen, however, with two wins and three draws from six encounters.
Manager: Kjetil Knutsen
Key Player: Amahl Pellegrino
Stadium (Capacity): Aspmyra Stadion (8,270)
Distance: 1,178 miles
After an impressive run in the Conference League, complete with a 6-1 thrashing handed to Roma and the shock elimination of Celtic, Bodø/Glimt will be keen to test themselves in the Europa League against the likes of Arsenal and PSV.
The Eliteserien champions offer the frontrunners a threat in that their league season is already 19 games deep, meaning they should, theoretically, be at the peak of their physical powers.
Bodø/Glimt are struggling a little more this season, however, as they trail table-topping Molde by seven points in the aftermath of Patrick Berg and Erik Botheim’s sales - valued as key players for the Norwegian outfit.
Having fallen at the final hurdle against Dinamo Zagreb in Champions League qualifiers, the outsiders will settle for a Europa League group stage match-up against Arsenal, which is as high as they’ve ever gotten in the hierarchy of European football.
Manager: Franco Foda
Key Player: Becir Omeragic
Stadium (Capacity): Stadion Letzigrund (30,930)
Distance: 483 miles
The second league champion in the group, Zürich, found their way into the Europa League group stage draw after overcoming both Linfield and Hearts in the qualifiers, having been dumped out of the Champions League qualifiers by Qarabağ in late July.
Zürich, who have a round-of-16 qualification from 1998 to try to emulate, will be hopeful of rivalling Bodø/Glimt as a surprise entity in Group A.
The projections don’t look too good for the Swiss outfit, however, after a dismal start to the domestic season which sees them sit bottom of the Swiss Super League, winless after five games.
The up-and-coming Wilfried Gnonto, turning in 15 goal contributions last season, has also been linked with a summer move to the Premier League and the Serie A, which will come as a bitter blow to Franco Foda’s low-scoring outfit.