Arsenal have been handed a relatively tough start to the Europa League after drawing BATE Borisov, FC Koln and Red Star Belgrade in Group H.
Arsenal face the ignominy of appearing on Thursday nights before Christmas for the first time in Arsene Wenger’s two-decade reign at the club.
Alongside Arsenal as favourites are the newly-rich AC Milan, Roberto Mancini’s Zenit St Petersburg and La Liga outfits Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad.
Other strong contenders are Arsenal’s Premier League rivals Everton, who head into this competition for just the third time in nine seasons.
The Toffees have also been given a tough draw in the shape of Lyon, Atalanta and Limassol.
Both English sides will have been eager to avoid any difficult games early on in the group as well as arduous journeys to the other side of the continent before heading home for weekend Premier League fixtures.
While that second wish has mostly been fulfilled – bar Everton’s journey to Cyprus and Arsenal’s trips to Belarus and Serbia.
For the Gunners, BATE Borisov are the highest-ranked side they will face according to Uefa’s club coefficient.
The Belorussian side have won their league title for 11 consecutive seasons and have been Champions League group stage competitors for five of the past nine seasons.
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