The UEFA Europa League group stages have been done and dusted, and for Arsenal it was history made and record set. The Gunners did not only finish the group stage as group winners, they did so with an impeccable record, winning all their group stage matches and finishing with maximum 18 points. That is a feat that has never been achieved by any English team in UEFA competition, be it in the Champions League and UEFA Cup of old or the present day competition.
The feat by the Gunners in the competition is one that excited and confused many. Arsenal are having their worst start to a Premier League season as they currently sit 15th on the log and have scored just a paltry 10 goals in 11 Premier League matches. It is so surprising that a team struggling for form on the domestic scene is just cruising on, on the continent. The Gunners did not just amass a massive 18 points in 6 UEFA Europa League group stage, they also scored a whooping 20 goals, that is an average of 3.33 per game. No doubt Arsenal have been very ruthless and efficient in Europe this season.
One begins to wonder why contrasting fortunes in both competitions? The excuse that teams in the Europa League are not big teams does not fly because there are also smaller teams in the Premier League but the Gunners have not been ruthless against them. The ones they have won have been struggles and the ones they have drawn, they have been lucky not to have lost. One thing Mikel Arteta has done so far in the competition is that he has used the competition to give the younger players much needed run out. Players like Joe Willock, Folarin Balogun and Smith Emile Rowe have all used the competition to garner unlikely minutes.
The group stages of the Europa League is done and the competition is on break till next year. For now, attention shifts fully to the domestic scene where Arsenal are at their lowest ebb at the moment and need inspiration fast. They are in the league where they need to work on climbing up the league log, in the Carabao quarter finals where they would be hoping to beat another City, this time the one from Manchester and get closer to another domestic trophy. The FA Cup would also be starting soon and they would be hoping to start their title defence in the best possible way.
Arsenal have shown in the Europa League that they can play beautiful football, win matches, create chances and score goals. All these have been missing in their premier League performance and Mikel Arteta must work on getting it on board. No history made is too insignificant to wish away, even in the lowest state, Arsenal have made history they will look back at and be proud.