All associated with Arsenal are eagerly anticipating Thursday's Europa League draw as the Gunners prepare for a third successive season in the competition after failing to secure Champions League football once again.
Unai Emery's side were presented with the perfect opportunity to return among Europe's elite. However, they succumbed to a 4-1 loss to Chelsea in last season's final in Baku, while a fifth-place Premier League finish ensured another season in the second-tier of European football.
The draw is taking place on Friday 30 August in Monaco, with Arsenal featuring in Pot 1 alongside Premier League rivals Manchester United. Here's who they could face and who they'll be hoping to take on, as well as who they'll ideally be looking to avoid.
None of the sides in Pot 1 will face each other for the Europa League group stages, with the 12 sides featured all being drawn in separate groups starting from Group A to Group L. The draw will see all 48 teams split into four pots of 12 to compile the groups. Each of the 12 groups will contain one team from each seeded pot.
While the Gunners can't face any sides in Pot 1, they will already be having their eyes on potential candidates for the trophy. The standout sides to lift the tournament will be themselves, United, Sevilla, Roma and Lazio, so it will be intriguing to see how those sides are drawn with.
|Pot 1||UEFA Club Coefficient|
Best Case Draw: N/A
Worst Case Draw: N/A
One of the most striking aspects of Europa League football is the vast array of sides to feature from all across the continent. And, while the teams in the tournament certainly aren't as feared as those in the Champions League, Pot 2 could still feature some sides that Arsenal would still prefer to avoid, both geographically and based on the team's ability.
As is noticeable, a large number or matches are still undecided. There are certainly sides to be avoided in Pot 2, however, Arsenal will be confident of securing victory against anyone outside of Pot 1, therefore the extensive travel will be the most undesirable element of the draw.
|Pot 2||UEFA Club Coefficient|
|Astana or BATE Borisov||27.500|
Best Case Draw: Young Boys
Worst Case Draw: Astana
Still to Be Decided
It is herein the issues lie. With still a swathe of qualifiers yet to play, 21 slots are undetermined until after the remaining matches are played on Thursday night. What will transpire will be whoever's coefficient score is highest, will resume their place in the group that fits them.
In some cases, the outcome of the matches could have major changes on the groups, although so-called 'big boys' won't see all that much movement. There is a possibility for Premier League side Wolves to make their way into either Pot 2 or Pot 3. However, as already mentioned, Arsenal can't face another side from England at this stage of the competition.
|Pot 2 or 3||UEFA Club Coefficient|
|Braga or Spartak Moscow||31.000 or 16.000|
|Ludogorets Razgrad or Maribor||27.000 or 18.500|
|Torino or Wolverhampton Wanderers||14.495 or 17.092|
Scottish champions Celtic will earn a spot in Pot 2 if they successfully hold onto their lead over Stockholm-based side AIK for the second leg. Arsenal could play the Hoops, which would make for an enticing encounter, with Neil Lennon's side playing their second-leg qualifier in Scotland. That said, if the Swedish side produce a stirring comeback, they will fall into Pot 4.
Meanwhile, a clash with FC Copenhagen would make for a very short journey, but they are one of the stronger outfits and would ideally be avoided.
|Pot 2 or 4||UEFA Club Coefficient|
|Celtic or AIK||31.000 or 5.500|
|FC Copenhagen or Riga FC||31.000 or 1.125|
There is every chance the Gunners could draw Rangers, which, as with Celtic, would make for an engrossing all-British match up, although there are certainly easier sides to face in Pot 4.
Facing off against Legia Warsaw, they face a stern test, who would definitely be pushed up into Pot 2 due to their high coefficient score. Currently eighth in the Polish league, they would make for decent opposition.
Other notable ties include PSV Eindhoven, who Arsenal would certainly want to avoid, while if Malmo see off their Isreali opponents they would make for an acceptable tie.
|Pot 2, 3 or 4||UEFA Club Coefficient|
|PSV Eindhoven or Apollon Limassol||37.000 or 12.000|
|KAA Gent or HNK Rijeka||29.500 or 13.500|
|Legia Warsaw or Rangers||24.500 or 5.250|
|Strasbourg or Eintracht Frankfurt||11.699 or 24.000|
|Slovan Bratislava or PAOK||6.000 or 23.500|
|Steaua Bucuresti or Vitoria SC||23.000 or 9.646|
|Linfield or Qarabag||2.250 or 22.000|
|Feyenoord or Hapoel Be'er Sheva||22.000 or 12.000|
|Espanyol or Zorya Luhansk||20.713 or 11.500|
|Malmo or Bnei Yehuda Tel Aviv||20.000 or 3.725|
|Partizan Belgrade or Molde||18.000 or 13.500|
|AEK Athens or Trabzonspor||14.000 or 8.000|
Down in Pot 3 and 4, Rennes stick out as the obvious side to miss. Arsenal lost against the Ligue 1 outfit last season in the first leg of their last-16 clash, before overcoming the French side in the second leg. Unai Emery knows their qualities and will be hoping to avoid them at all costs. Whether they fall into Pot 3 or 4 is still now assured, as the results determine their placing.
|Pot 3 or 4||UEFA Club Coefficient|
|AZ Alkmaar or Royal Antwerp||10.500 or 7.980|
Often the slot of the draw that is left for the aptly named 'whipping boys', Pot 4 of the Europa League coughs up a vast number of sides who've fought valiantly to reach this point, but will likely go no further than the group stages.
The standout tie to avoid would be facing Aaraat Armenia, who will pose a long flight time in the far reaches of eastern Europe. FC Cluj would be a similar journey, while not as long, and ideally missing out on a trip to Romania would be very welcome
Plenty of long journeys could stand in the Gunners' way, but a potential trip to Luxembourg outfit F91 Dudelange should make for easy work, should they see off their Armenian opponents.
|Pot 4||UEFA Club Coefficient|
|Suduva or Ferencvaros||4.250 or 3.500|
|Aaraat Armenia or F91 Dudelange||1.050 or 6.250|
Best Case Draw: F91 Dudelange
Worst Case Draw: Aaraat Armenia