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How seriously should Arsenal & Man United take the Europa League?

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After the first round of games for the 19/20 UEFA Europa League were played last night, both Manchester United and Arsenal find themselves in already decent positions after they won their opening games, with Manchester United beating Astana 1-0 at Old trafford and Arsenal registering an impressive 3-0 win away at Eintracht Frankfurt. With both teams and both sets of fans likely to be unhappy with their involvement in the competition we have a look at why both Manchester United and Arsenal should take this seasons Europa League seriously.

It’s a trophy

At the end of the day the Europa League is a chance for both clubs to win a trophy this season, and considering the fact that both Manchester United and Arsenal’s last trophy came in 2017, both sides should look to end their trophy drought and fight to win the competition. With Manchester City dominating the domestic trophies and Liverpool showing impressive league form, it looks unlikely that United and Arsenal will challenge for any domestic trophies, so the Europa League is a good chance for both sides to win a trophy this season.

Champions League qualification

Due to the fact that the winners of the Europa League are rewarded with qualification for the Champions League the following season, many teams have prioritised the Europa League over their domestic form to qualify for the competition. This was the case when Manchester United won the Europa League in 2017 after beating Ajax in Stockholm, as after finishing in 6th place, winning the Europa League provided United with Champions League qualification for the 17/18 season.

With Arsenal finishing in 5th place last season, their Europa League final clash against London rivals Chelsea was their second chance to qualify for the Champions League, and considering that Chelsea had already qualified it was thought that they wouldn’t take the game as seriously as Arsenal would. However, after losing 4-1, Arsenal missed out on their opportunity and confirmed that they would spend their third consecutive season in the Europa League.

Looking at both Manchester United and Arsenal’s start to the season, it looks like they both may struggle to finish in the top 4, so it would be wise for both Unai Emery and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to treat the Europa League win importance and keep their options open incase they fall behind the pace of the top 4.

Opportunity to play youth players

With all respect to the majority of sides who play in it, the quality of teams and football in the Europa League (especially in the early rounds) is lacking in terms of the quality of both United and Arsenal, so it provides both Unai Emery and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with an opportunity to give game time to some of their youth players and get them used to playing for the first team without throwing them into the deep end. Both sides took advantage of this as Arsenal started the likes of Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe and Joe Willock in their game against Eintracht Frankfurt, as well as Tahith Chong, Angel Gomes and Mason Greenwood playing for Manchester United.