Thursday, June 20, 2024

Arsenal to face Benfica in Europa League last 32

Arsenal will take on Portuguese giants Benfica in the first knockout round of this year’s Europa League.

Benfica, who are not Olympiakos, came second in their Europa League group behind Rangers. They’re also second in the standings on the domestic front, just behind Sporting Lisbon who we played in this competition a couple of years ago.

Readers of a certain age will remember a painful exit at the hands of Benfica in the European Cup in 1992. After securing a creditable 1-1 draw away at the Stadium of Light, we were handed a lesson at Highbury as a brace from Isias downed us 3-1 after extra time.

David Luiz will no doubt be looking forward to the match. He won the Primeira Liga title with Benfica in 2009/10 and was heavily linked with a return to the club before signing an extension at Arsenal.

The first legs are scheduled for Thursday 18 February, with the second legs on 25 February. Seeded teams (that’s us) are at home in the second legs.

Full draw

Wolfsberg (AUT) vs Tottenham (ENG)
Dynamo Kyiv (UKR) vs Club Brugge (BEL)
Real Sociedad (ESP) vs Manchester United (ENG)
Benfica (POR) vs Arsenal (ENG)
Crvena zvezda (SRB) vs AC Milan (ITA)
Antwerp (BEL) vs Rangers (SCO)
Slavia Praha (CZE) vs Leicester (ENG)
Salzburg (AUT) vs Villarreal (ESP)
Braga (POR) vs Roma (ITA)
Krasnodar (RUS) vs Dinamo Zagreb (CRO)
Young Boys (SUI) vs Leverkusen (GER)
Molde (NOR) vs Hoffenheim (GER)
Granada (ESP) vs Napoli (ITA)
Maccabi Tel-Aviv (ISR) vs Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR)
LOSC Lille (FRA) vs Ajax (NED)
Olympiacos (GRE) vs PSV Eindhoven (NED)

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I hope we win


“Win”? What is this language you speak?


’tis a Europa League phrase sheff, just hope Willian is kept away from it.

Bob's Mexican Cousin

I’m also confused. I keep hearing about “goals” not sure what those are.

Scott P

Well, I know the white frame with a net attached to it is the “goal” but I’m not sure what you’re supposed to do with that, or how it has any connection to the “football”.


You are supposed to move the ball in its general direction – except when the person standing underneath it is more familiar to you than the person standing underneath similar structure at the other end of the field.

High gooner

Ahhahahahaha… thats a good one.. thank you


We have NO chance against Benfica. Literally, it’s not even worth us getting on the plane.


Depends on what happens between now and February.

Naked Cygan

We have to try and get the ball in the opponents net by Feb first, and finish games with 11 players.


But we dont know how to put the ball in the net…. we’re doomed

Johnny 4 Hats

Man it would be hella Arsenal to win the Europa and get relegated.

A Different George

Wigan, the FA Cup and relegated. But it’s all right because they came right back up. Oh.


At least we’ll be fully rested for the league in the latter half of the season.


I wanted to give Mikel more time, but I just looked up that Pochettino was sacked after 14 points from 12 games, and replaced him with a (c u * t) proven manager. And just reached the CL final.
He’d done a lot more and built a lot more faith in his ability than Arteta has.
Big clubs act and we’re such a joke it’s actually painful.

Crash Fistfight

Lucien Favre incoming…


Aim big I say. Calling Sam Allardyce!


I agree, go all out for big Sam or Tony (long throw) Pulis.


At least he gives the kids a chance


Except Gnabry…..


I don’t think Arteta was manager when Gnabry was with us

David C

Should we have sold our soul and gone for Mourinho? I know how we all feel about him, but he has that bunch flying…

I said no to Mourinho when he was linked, I realize hindsight is 20-20.

I hope Arteta turns it around, but if not, we should be looking to grab that nice bloke at Southampton…not sure why he’d want to come join us though.

Crash Fistfight

We could have gone for Hasenhuttl on the last 2 occasions we hired a manager.

Seems like Sanllehi (and probably Edu as well) wanted someone to get us to play “passy-passy” football, rather than go with the trend of what is working more and more at the top level these days.

Just because it works for Pep Guardiola when he has way better players than everyone else in the league, doesn’t mean it’s a winning formula.

Godfrey Twatsloch

You said “Seems like Sanllehi (and probably Edu as well) wanted someone to get us to play “passy-passy” football” but surely you meant “Seems like Sanllehi and Edu wanted someone who doesn’t ask questions while they line their own pockets and those of their agent friends with the club’s money”.

SB Still

No, no, no. 1st he was perfect fit for Spuds both twats.

Mourinho’s pattern has been starts quite well its usually the 2nd season his abrasive ways and anti-football becomes too much to bear and it will be a messy divorce.

There were/are much better managers, who can turn things around, as well as take us back up.

Godfrey Twatsloch

Gerard Houllier died today and tributes are pouring in for a man who was known for being a gentleman and well liked wherever he went. Something that’ll never be said about Mourinho.

Public Elneny

I wouldn’t be particularly averse to Pochettino tbh, if he’d want to come here that is


So a manager who in 12 years has won zilch is the right man for us? 🙈🙈🙈

Public Elneny

Ffs, there is so much hard work we need to do before winning *major* trophies is even a possibility. Winning a cluster of FA cups was nice but ultimately never really helped us progress as a club to where we have the potential to be – challenging for the league and latter stages of the CL. Now we’ve got the trophy drought well out of the way, a top 4 (even top 6) finish would be far more beneficial, and symptomatic of a well run club with a high quality and motivated squad And that will take proper coaching, judgement… Read more »

Still love Wenger

I would say he’s done a lot for Tottenham,he’s given them a base for that dick to take over and propel them to where they are now.
I really hope they don’t win the league, my brother will be unbearable.


Big clubs aim to build consistent success, to challenge year after year. We haven’t been that for a very long time. To return to “big club” status, despite that phrase meaning less and less, we decided to invest everything in a young up-and-coming manager who the people-who-matter believe is going to be one of the best. It was a bold, and big decision — and the right one. Fans can’t handle the disappointment and the struggle of growing pains, especially during a pandemic that has compromised much of the joy in their lives, but hopefully our board and decision makers… Read more »


Guardiola while he’s had a lot of money to spend is still one of the all time great managers. While it’s great that “people – who- matter” = primarily Pep at this point believe that he’s going to be great, Arteta is going to have to quickly demonstrate some progress that proves that faith correct. The FA cup win is great but as fans we’ve continued to believe that each FA Cup has signaled a new era of Arsenal competing again for major honors (PL & Europe) rather than just recognizing it as a great win in a cup. The… Read more »


Pep, Wenger, Mertesacker, Edu, Vinai, Klopp, Zabaleta, Cazorla, Monreal, Carragher, Neville, etc. have all backed Arteta to be a success at Arsenal. Arteta does not have to do anything quickly — that’s the error in your point of view, that there is a quick fix for bringing Arsenal back up to truly competitive football. It is going to take time. The primary argument for sticking with Arteta is that he is going to be a long-term success with the club, that he has a vision for the club that everyone at the club believes in. That’s the primary argument. That… Read more »


Saying he doesn’t do things quickly is just an excuse for why results and on field product should be ignored. Anyone not questioning if Arteta is the right man to take us forward quite frankly isn’t watching Arsenal.

Out of pure curiosity given the results are virtually identical to Emery over the past year, are you of the opinion that Emery should still be in charge? If not then why is this any different?


There is a small picture and a big picture — I’m looking at the big one. Understandably, the small one hurts my eyes.

No one believed in Emery, not even Emery himself.


Arteta appears to be very quickly heading down that path. As both James & Andrew said today – I’ve never seen a manager so quickly lose so much goodwill to the point where the majority now seem to believe it’s best to move on. I would just say the same thing I’ve said to you for weeks now -it’s ultimately a results business so no matter how much we like Arteta as a former captain, a protege of Pepe or as someone who says all the right things publicly, he ultimately will be judged on the results on the pitch… Read more »


The results will come.

Hank Scorpio

Boss, de plane, de plane

Tanned arse

I agree with you in principle about the big picture but disagree with what I’m seeing on the pitch. Losses I can live with but the style and instruction needs to change far more before we start winning games on a consistent basis. He’s too risk averse in terms of player movement. Won’t allow players to drive out of defensive holes. That’s fine if you sit deep and attack with a couple of world class players on the break who can score the few chances they get but he’s given up on that. We could all debate if that was… Read more »


Fair enough, but is what you say true about yesterday’s match? I thought we moved incredible well as a team and created some good chances. Gabriel has been popping into the attack, Elneny and Xhaka were both parked outside their box at times, and we had 8 of 11 players in the final third. We aren’t going to dominate the way we do in the EL in the PL for a while — people need to be patient.

Tanned arse

I seriously could handle being 15th if I thought that long term we were on the right path. I don’t see that at all though. There is nothing in the way we play that suggests good foundations are being laid. The playing style and philosophy of the manager is one that I don’t think will get results. Trying the right things but not being good enough at least leaves hope for the future. Trying to do the wrongs things and not seeing or accepting (as a manager) kinda kills that hope off completely. The other issue is the man management… Read more »


But what is your logic here? He won a trophy in his first season: isn’t that getting results? He’s beaten the big clubs. Aren’t those results? Isn’t that exactly the path trajectory we wanted from the new manager?

No one has to handle being in 15th — the season didn’t end today. We won’t stay in 15th. We’re on a losing streak — these things happen in sports. We are improving, and the signs are there if you want to see them, as Scott points out in the Numbers.


Something to look forward to… 😳


Well, Benfica gave up at least two goals in each of their away EL group stage matches, so maybe-

Haha, sorry, I forgot they were playing The Team That Goals Forgot


The first decent opposition. I think MA will look to his seasoned generals like Xhaka and Willian.

Looks like that’s it for our Europe travels this season then.


If he will be at the helm by then…

Tanned arse

Regardless of who is at the helm, xhaka better not be at the club by the time that tie comes around.


It 100% is mate, yes!


Say what you like about Willian but at least Arteta makes him work for his retirement money.


In case any one was wondering he has a “misplaced pass” bonus in his contract. Along with a bonus for “taking a stroll during matches”

Godfrey Twatsloch

That’s only fair. I’m glad we as a club have set an example as the most generous to the over the hill and not too keen anymore players. More clubs will follow our lead, I’m sure of it.

Tanned arse

What about a bonus for air miles?


While recognizing we’ll likely see more senior players in the Europa League as the PL season already is going completely off the rails, I hope we at least maintain the more positive attacking approach we’ve had thus far in this competition. While recognizing the level of competition is not as high, we’ve genuinely approached the Europa League with much more of the style I hoped we would be applying to the PL by now.


But as you said. in the EL group stage?: Pub Teams.


Will the 2000 fans bring some banners the next home game to show how we really feel? Maybe Xhaka will really leave for real this time.


Can we get Colin Pates back?


If the football gods continue their relentless trolling of The Arsenal, we’ll end up in the final against Emery’s Villareal and will obviously lose in a horrific way. Oh to be a gooner 🥴


Will be interesting to see how serioulsy he is taking the Europa league this year. If he fields the kids then we know he wants to win.

Anders Limpar

At least we are going to get stuffed by a reasonable team with European pedigree and not get dumped out of the competition by a Molde or a Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Crash Fistfight

Was impossible to play Molde in the next round, so that’d never have happened.


These fixtures are sandwiched between league matches against Leeds, Man City, and Vardy City. I’m going to use all my optimism (read: stupid wishing) in hoping that we see some good form against a pretty weak January schedule propels us through a tough February.

(Realistically, of course, Newcastle and Crystal Palace are looking at January thinking that a trip to the Emirates will be a nice respite from tougher matches…)


Good draw. This will help us focus on the league and we will be able to see Willian in all our line ups every week


Good draw? Benfica are perfectly capable of tearing us to shreds. They’ll be licking their chops for this one.


My Monday was bad enough after yesterday, no we draw Benfica, I used to be regular at Highbury in 1992 season, that evening standing in The North Bank watching us being outplayed, still gives me football nightmares.


And it all started so well …


So we win all our group games being the only team to do so and get probably the best team we could have got. Having said that, they failed to beat rangers over two games so how good can they really be? Also as blogs points out, Benfica are not olympiakos which is good.

Man Manny

We’ll have to be better than the best we’ve ever been this season (that is not saying much, I know), if we are to stand any chance of progressing.
They are a very sleek and mobile side.
One commentator described them as a Champion’s League level team in Europa league.
Arteta has his work cut out…if he’s still around by then, that is.


This competition is like a parallel universe where the players score goals and win games

If we win it does it even count from a metaphysical perspective?


Merry Christmas Benfica.

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