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Europa League ineligibility made Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s move to Arsenal difficult

Being cup-tied made it hard to find a rhythm, our striker said, but Premier League games have helped.

Arsenal v Watford - Premier League Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang can’t play for Arsenal in the Europa League, which has made his schedule sparse—and his move to Arsenal more difficult than it might have been otherwise.

According to the Guardian, Aubameyang explained that having fewer games made it more difficult for him to find a rhythm at Arsenal after his transfer from Borussia Dortmund. He played multiple times a week for Dortmund, but at Arsenal, because he is cup-tied for Europa League games, his outings have been more sporadic. He is frustrated by the UEFA eligibility rules, he said, and “disappointed because I can’t help my team. That’s life. I have to deal with it.”

Because of the two-tier competition setup, UEFA eligibility rules are a little more complicated than the rules for domestic cups. Aubameyang played for Dortmund in the Champions League, and the team finished third in their group and dropped down to the Europa League knockout stages, which means that he won’t be able to play for Arsenal at all in this year’s competition. (If Dortmund had stayed in the Champions League, he might have been able to—clubs are allowed a single player who has played for another team in Europe, provided their previous team is in the other competition.)

The Europa League absences along with the Bundesliga’s winter break meant that Aubameyang only played once in January, but regular Premier League appearances have made life easier. “I didn’t play a lot in January so it was difficult to find the rhythm,” he said. “Now I am feeling better.” It certainly showed in his last game against Watford, where he picked up a goal and an assist, and stuck a celebratory front flip for good measure.