This season marks 25 years since our last European triumph, the UEFA Cup Winners Cup in 1994. A quarter of a century has passed during which we’ve reached a Champions League Final in 2006, a semi final in 2009 against Manchester United and the Europa League semi final in May 2018.
Our upcoming match away to BATE Borisov of Belarus will be another step in our last chance of obtaining silverware this season. We must take this opportunity with both hands in my opinion.
Since we have been playing UEFA Europa League football we have lost to the likes of FC Koln, Ostersunds FK , and been held to draws at home by Red Star Belgrade and Atletico Madrid. A mixed bag at times, you seem to never know how it will go in Europe when it comes to supporting the Arsenal.
Fortunately this season we have a manager in Unai Emery who has won this tournament three times in a row. It’s tough enough to win it once in my opinion. I get the feeling in some quarters that some Arsenal fans are not bothered about the Europa League because it is not the Champions League. The fact remains that a European trophy is at stake and we must give our all and play our best team until the end if we harbor ambitions of winning it.
Should we triumph in Baku in Azerbaijan on May 29th 2019 that could be this generations ‘ Copenhagen 1994 night ‘. As a Gooner of 30 years our Cup Winners Cup triumph in 1994 v Parma remains one of the fondest memories I have, even the previous rounds we were excellent against Odense , Winning against Standard Liege 7-0 away in Belgium making Europe sit up and take notice we went on from there to beat Torino and a very talented Paris Saint-Germain side to book our place in the final.
We even reached the final again in Paris in 1995 against Real Zaragoza a year later. In 2019 we have a chance to make real progress in Europe and I believe that it would give the club a tremendous boost.
Looking at the teams left in the tournament Sevilla, Benfica, Zenit St Petersburg and even the dark horses of Eintracht Frankfurt and Real Betis would provide a stern test in my opinion. We must treat every team with respect and not underestimate anybody. You only have to look at the results in the qualifying rounds of this tournament to see that there have been many surprising results from the beginning and we must take nothing for granted.
I would like to let my fellow Gooners know that the biggest sea change in football apart from money and commercial power changing the landscape in the last 20 years is that the gap between the bigger and more seasoned European teams and the smaller teams has been decreasing year upon year. There are no easy games in Europe.
BATE Borisov have more Champions League experience than Arsenal lately getting knocked out by PSV Eindhoven in the qualifying rounds back in August 2018 losing 3-2 at home in the first leg and they were unlucky to lose in my opinion. They have also held their own against the likes of AS Roma , Bayer Leverkusen and knocking out Partizan Belgrade in the qualifying rounds so we must be professional.
We have 180 minutes to ensure our passage into the last 16 of the Europa League 2019 and a step closer to our goal. Let’s take it game by game and embrace it. Our current squad and Unai Emery have the chance to write a piece of European history for Arsenal. Don’t let this chance pass by. C’mon You Gunners !