Easy opponents await Arsenal, Spurs in Europe

NYON • English Premier League sides Arsenal and Tottenham both appeared to be handed straightforward fixtures in this season's Europa League after the draw was made yesterday.

Mikel Arteta's Gunners will face Austrian outfit Rapid Vienna, Norway's Molde and Ireland's Dundalk in Group B.

Tottenham, Champions League runners-up two seasons ago, face Ludogorets of Bulgaria, Austria's Lask and Belgian Cup winners Antwerp in Group J.

Leicester, the other Premier League side among the 48 teams, will face Portugal's Braga, AEK Athens of Greece and Ukraine's Zorya Luhansk in Group G.

Arsenal reached the Europa League final last year, before losing to Chelsea in Baku. They crashed out of Europe's second-tier club competition last season in the round of 32 on away goals after drawing 2-2 to Greek champions Olympiakos over two legs.

Spurs have already travelled to Bulgaria in the competition this season, beating Lokomotiv Plovdiv 2-1 away in the second qualifying round last month.

Manager Jose Mourinho won the Europa League with Manchester United in 2017, and will be hoping to build on his expertise to bring home silverware this season.

Meanwhile, seven-time European champions AC Milan, winners of a marathon penalty shoot-out against Rio Ave on Thursday, were rewarded by being drawn against Celtic and Lille in Group H, one of the toughest of the 12 groups.

The Serie A side, banned from the competition last season for breaching Uefa's Financial Fair Play rule, scraped through 9-8 on penalties after snatching a last-gasp 2-2 draw with the Portuguese side.

Coppa Italia winners Napoli also had a tricky draw as they will face Real Sociedad, AZ Alkmaar and Rijeka in Group F, while AS Roma, the third Italian team in the hat, will meet Young Boys, Cluj and CSKA Sofia in Group A.

The first round of group games will be played on Oct 22. This season's final is scheduled to be played in Gdansk, Poland on May 26.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 03, 2020, with the headline 'Easy opponents await Arsenal, Spurs in Europe'. Subscribe