Arsenal and Chelsea Handed Comfortable Europa League Ties
Arsenal and Chelsea will be relatively happy with their Europa League group games after the draw was revealed on Friday. Both have avoided the couple of really big sides they could have drawn, and while Arsenal have a lot of travelling to do which won't help their Premier League campaign, both should find themselves getting through to the next stage with ease.
The Gunners have been drawn against Sporting Lisbon, Qarabag and Vorskla Poltava.
The biggest team Arsenal face here is certainly Sporting Lisbon, but it is fair to say they are a team in turmoil right now. During the summer, numerous players cancelled their contracts with the club after an attack on the training ground by fans. Things have been very rocky for them on and off the pitch, although they have managed to win a couple of their opening league games to sit 3rd in the Portuguese top flight. Qarabag will be known by fans for their Champions League exploits last season, but they were outclassed there and they should be outclassed here too. Vorskla Poltava won the Ukrainian league last season, but they have only been this far once, where they finished bottom of the group. As far as quality on the field goes, Arsenal should have far too much here and should win the group, but the travel arrangements they are going to have to make may impact on their Premier League form.
Chelsea have been drawn against PAOK Saloniki, BATE Borisov and Vidi.
Just like Arsenal, Chelsea should have no fears about the group they have been drawn in, and The Blues don't have the same travel problems that their London rivals have. PAOK Saloniki will provide the sternest test here, but they showed their limitations when being beaten by Benfica in a recent Champions League playoff game. A full strength Chelsea should beat the Greek side with ease. BATE Borisov and Vidi have European experience to call upon, but they don't have the quality to compete with Chelsea, leaving what should be a relatively clean and easy path through to the next round for the London club.
Arsenal and Chelsea Long Odds On to Win Groups
Both Arsenal and Chelsea are long odds on to win their Europa League groups, showing that the bookmakers think they are going to have an easy time of things against the teams they have been drawn against. Arsenal are 4/11 for success in Group E, with Sporting Lisbon the only realistic challenger at 11/4. In Group L Chelsea are even shorter at 4/27 to win their group, which shows just how much they have in hand compared to their opponents. The only credible danger looks to be PAOK Saloniki, and they are priced up at 13/2 to win the group.