A week is a long time in football and Arsenal have found that out the hard way, with a disastrous few days significantly damaging their upturn in form.
Two red cards and a 2-1 defeat to Wolves was swiftly followed by a 1-0 loss against Aston Villa, bringing an end to the Gunners’ unbeaten streak and damaging the hopes of securing continental football again next season.
Mikel Arteta’s side currently sit 11th in the standings, eight points behind the Europa League spots, while the four sides immediately above them in the standings have games in hand to play.
That raises the importance of the Europa League campaign this season, a competition where Arsenal have lost just twice in the last two seasons – including the 2019 final to Chelsea.
With the likes of Bayer Leverkusen, Real Sociedad, Napoli, Ajax, AC Milan and a host of others in the competition, it won’t be an easy task to go all the way to securing the grand prize – which isn’t just the trophy but is also qualification to next season’s Champions League.
That is something Arsenal are desperate for following three consecutive seasons outside of Europe’s elite competitions and their chances of success are rated fairly highly.
Data analysts FiveThirtyEight have given the Gunners a seven per-cent chance of winning the competition, putting them joint-third alongside Leicester City, Real Sociedad and Napoli. In fact, only Manchester United and Bayer Leverkusen are given a greater chance of winning the competition.
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Arsenal are expected to progress from their Round of 32 tie against Benfica, having been given a 66% chance of progression, and are 41% likely to win in the following round to make it through to the competition’s last eight.
Making the semi-finals is seen as 24% likely, while Arsenal are given a 13% chance to go all the way to the final in Gdansk.
Whether Arsenal can prove their worth remains to be seen but as they enter the knockout rounds with a 100% record from the group stages, they’ve already made a statement.
Europa League chances of victory
Manchester United – 13%
Bayer Leverkusen – 8%
Arsenal – 7%
Leicester City – 7%
Real Sociedad – 7%
Napoli – 7%
Ajax – 6%
Tottenham – 6%