Arsenal can compete for the Europa League title but the players must first cope with the long-distance travel during their group-stage matches, warned manager Unai Emery yesterday.
The north London side, who reached the semi-finals of Europe’s second-tier competition last season, were handed a logistical challenge when they were pitted against Ukraine’s Vorskla Poltava, Qarabag of Azerbaijan, and Portugal’s Sporting in Group E.
First it’s three teams and we’ll have the recipe for them. After this, we want to go far in this competition,” said Emery, who has won the Europa League three times with Sevilla.
“Each match is different and each match involves a lot of travel.
“The adaptation for these three teams needs to be positive and we need to face them with ambition and our interest to do well in the competition.”
Arsenal have a packed schedule after the international break at the start of September, playing four matches in nine days that include Premier League, League Cup, and Europa League fixtures.
“When you play three matches in a week, it’s hard. There’s less time to prepare for the match and work physically, but we want it like that,” said Emery.
He confirmed Germany playmaker Mesut Ozil is fit for tomorrow’s clash against Cardiff City, having recovered from an illness that kept him on the sidelines during their 3-1 win over West Ham United last weekend.
He’s training normally with the group in every session this week,” said the Spaniard.
“We started on Tuesday and he’s been with the group; he’s OK, he’s looking well.”
Emery confirmed Reiss Nelson is set to join German side Hoffenheim on loan for the remainder of the season, although he has also signed a new long-term Arsenal deal.
Arsenal were one of four British clubs in Friday’s group stage draw at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco.
Chelsea face tough assignments in Group L as they return to Europe’s second-tier competition for the first time since they lifted the trophy in 2013.
Greek Super League runners-up PAOK Salonika, BATE Borisov of Belarus, and Hungarian side Vidi lie in wait.
Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic have been drawn alongside RB Leipzig and Salzburg — two clubs owned by energy drink firm Red Bull.
The German and Austrian clubs are both allowed to play in European competition after the Uefa Club Financial Control Body ruled last summer that they did not break rules on the integrity of Uefa competitions.
Rosenborg complete Group B having lost to Celtic in a Champions League qualifier this summer.
Celtic last night agreed to sell striker Moussa Dembele to Lyon. Celtic signed midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu and also signed Leicester City defender Filip Benkovic, 21, on a season-long loan.
Cross-city rivals Rangers have the toughest-looking draw of the British quartet.
Villarreal, Rapid Vienna, and Spartak Moscow await in Group G as the Scottish side return to a European group stage for the first time since the 2010-11 Champions League. The first round of matches is on September 20.