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The Europa League draw - Football: Verdict

Arsenal and Manchester United have been handed favourable draws in the Europa League group stage, with both clubs expected to go far in the competition.

The Gunners have been drawn in Group A alongside PSV Eindhoven, Bodo/Glimt and FC Zurich and are 11/2 to go on and win the tournament for the very first time.

Man Utd are 8/1 and they know what it's like to lift the trophy having done so in 2017, with Erik ten Hag's side set to face Real Sociedad, Sheriff Tiraspol and Omonia Nicosia in Group E.

What:UEFA Europa League 2022/23
Where:Various, final at Puskas Arena, Budapest, Hungary
When:Thursday 8th September 2022 to Wednesday 31st May 2023
How to watch:BT Sport
Odds:Arsenal, Man Utd, Roma, Lazio, Real Betis

Gunners face testing Arctic trip

Arsenal are back in Europe after a season away and despite never winning the Europa League, the Gunners have plenty of experience in the competition, having reached at least the semi-final stage in three of the last five years.

Mikel Arteta's side have made an impressive start to the new season domestically, winning their opening three Premier League matches, and they will expect to qualify from their Europa League group comfortably.

The Gunners are in Group A where their toughest test on paper is likely to come from Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven, who have dropped into the Europa League after being narrowly edged out by Rangers in the final round of Champions League qualifying.

That same fate befell Bodo/Glimt and the Norwegian champions could pose a serious problem to Arsenal, especially as they play their home matches just north of the Arctic Circle.

Bodo have made their home ground, the Aspmyra Stadion, a fortress in Europe over recent seasons, as they have won their last 13 continental matches at the venue, a run that includes beating Roma twice - Arsenal certainly cannot underestimate Kjetil Knutsen's side.

Swiss champions FC Zurich complete Group A after edging out Hearts in the final round of qualifying. However, given how poorly they have started their domestic season - they currently sit bottom of the Swiss Super League - it is difficult to see Franco Foda's side causing too many problems.

United handed Sociedad challenge

Man Utd will expect to easily come through their group, although they may face a battle for top spot from La Liga outfit Real Sociedad.

These two sides are no strangers to facing each other, as the Red Devils claimed a 4-0 aggregate success over Sociedad at the last 32 stage of this competition two seasons ago.

In four previous meetings, United have not conceded a goal against Sociedad, but while the Spanish outfit are familiar foes, the same cannot be said of the other two teams in the group.

The Manchester giants have never previously locked horns with Sheriff Tiraspol or Omonia Nicosia, with a trip to Moldova to face the former looking particularly testing given Sheriff beat eventual winners Real Madrid in last season's Champions League.

Omonia are unlikely to cause United as many problems, although the Cypriot side are managed by former Celtic boss Neil Lennon and boast ex-Manchester City youngster Brandon Barker in their playing squad.

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Roma and Betis to square off

Friday's Europa League draw did not throw up too many heavyweight tussles, although there is an exception in Group C where Jose Mourinho's Roma have been pitted against last season's Copa del Rey winners Real Betis.

Both sides will expect to go far in this season's competition, with the Giallorossi, who lifted the inaugural Europa Conference League title last season, priced at 14/1, while Betis are a 25/1 shot.

Mourinho is the only manager to have won all three of Europe's major club competitions and with the two-time Europa League/UEFA Cup winner at the helm, Roma can never be written off.

The other two teams in Group C, Bulgarian champions Ludogorets and Finnish title holders HJK Helsinki, have their work cut out if they are to stand any chance of advancing through to the knockout stages.

Group H looks the toughest to call

Perhaps the toughest looking draw on paper has come in Group H where the champions of Serbia, Hungary and Turkey, Crvena Zvezda, Ferencvaros and Trabzonspor, have been pitted alongside Ligue 1 giants Monaco.

All four sides will harbour realistic hopes of reaching the knockout stages, with 50/1 Monaco perhaps the pick of the bunch, although Crvena Zvezda, who are 100/1 to win the Europa League, boast one of the most impressive home records in Europe, as they are unbeaten in 20 matches at the Rajko Mitic Stadium across all competitions, with 17 of those ending in victory.

Group F is another that catches the eye, with Italian outfit Lazio coming up against last season's Conference League finalists Feyenoord, as well as Midtjylland and Sturm Graz.

In Group B, Dynamo Kiev, Rennes and Fenerbahce are expected to battle it out with AEK Larnaca unlikely to challenge, while Europa League stalwarts Braga headline Group D alongside Malmo, Union Berlin and Union Saint-Gilloise.

Finally in Group G, Coupe de France winners Nantes will face Olympiakos, Qarabag and Freiburg in what looks another difficult section to call.

Europa League group stage draw in full:

Group A: Arsenal, PSV Eindhoven, Bodo/Glimt, FC Zurich

Group B: Dynamo Kyiv, Rennes, Fenerbahce, AEK Larnaca

Group C: Roma, Ludogorets, Real Betis, HJK Helsinki

Group D: Braga, Malmo, Union Berlin, Union Saint-Gilloise

Group E: Manchester United, Real Sociedad, FC Sheriff, Omonia Nicosia

Group F: Lazio, Feyenoord, FC Midtjylland, SK Sturm Graz

Group G: Olympiakos, Qarabag, Freiburg, Nantes

Group H: Red Star Belgrade, Monaco, Ferencvaros TC, Trabzonspor

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