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Thursdays Cannon Fodder: Europe

Arsenal Depart for Zurich for the UEFA Europa League Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Arsenal return to European competition with a trip to take on Zurich F.C. in the Gunners first continental match since losing the 2020-21 Europa Semifinal to Unai Emery’s Villareal side. Last season was an exercise in realizing how fortunate we’ve been as Gooners to have our club in Europe for so many consecutive years.

I missed it — the extra matches, the different opponents. Having midweek matches helped ease the frustration with poor results at the weekend. They gave us a chance, at least in the group stages, to see some of the younger players on the Arsenal roster — remember Eddie Nkeitah, Bukayo Saka, and Emile Smith Rowe all made their first mark for the club in the Europa League.

With that year-long absence in mind, I hope to be more mindful and “in the moment” for the Europa League campaign this season. I’m going to try to enjoy the matches for what they are — another opportunity to see my favorite club in action.

Early reports suggest that Mikel Arteta plans to use a decently strong roster this evening, but I would be surprised if we didn’t see Fabio Vieira and Marquinhos get significant minutes. It’ll also be a good opportunity for Takehiro Tomiyasu and Kieran Tierney to get more playing time to work towards match fitness and sharpness.

Regardless of who plays, it’ll be nice to see the Gunners back in Europe. I think they have to be among the favorites to win the whole thing (and the club’s first piece of European silverware), but we’re a long ways away from that.