Bad news for Arsenal — the 2022-23 Europa League group stage will finish in 8 weeks instead of the usual 12. The change comes because of the World Cup in Qatar that will run from November 21st through December 18th. We’ll have a better idea of the schedule implications of the change (i.e. who Arsenal will play the weekend after an EL midweek match) when the Premier League fixture list is announced on June 16th. The Europa League group stage draw isn’t until August 26th.
Europa League group stage fixture dates:
Matchday 1: September 8th
Matchday 2: September 15th
Matchday 3: October 6th
Matchday 4: October 13th
Matchday 5: October 27th
Matchday 6: November 3rd
There have been a few other changes to the competition since Arsenal were last in. The group winners player two fewer matches in the knockout stages. The group runners-up have to play one of the eight teams that dropped down from the Champions League. So there is a significant premium on winning the group. Finally, the third place finishers from the group stage drop down to the Conference League knockout stages, which is what happened to Leicester City this season.
Fortunately, because the Gunners are in Europe this year, they will have one fewer Carabao Cup match this season. Arsenal enter the competition in the third round, scheduled for November 8th and 9th. The League Cup schedule had to change this year because of the changes to the Champions, Europa, and Conference League schedules forced by the winter World Cup in Qatar.
The good (or bad because it gave non-internationals a break) news is that there is just one international window next fall, scheduled for September 19th-27th. There are two match dates per country during the window, so at least the national teams won’t be able to grind down the Arsenal players to the point of them getting hurt immediately afterwards.
Regardless, the Gunners are going to need a deeper roster. Much to our chagrin, we had a front row seat to the effect that injuries can have on a thin roster. Arsenal will be playing two matches a week from the start of September through the World Cup break in November, essentially. Mikel Arteta will have to rotate his side, which is why extending Mohamed Elneny was a sensible move. Arteta would also do well to get as much use as possible out of youth players like Charlie Patino, Omari Hutchinson, and the other players who started making the bench towards the end of the Premier League season.
It’s going to be a busy, congested fall (and winter), y’all.