Despite it being Europe’s second competition, and the poor “banter” we have received from Spurs fans for not being in the Champions League for the second time this millennium, I ma buzzing for today’s Europa League draw.
As a travelling fan, I became bored of the Champions League. Bored of facing the same old teams. Bayern Munich, AC Milan, Barcelona. Been there, done it.
The competition became predictable, not just in Arsenal’s quarter final exits, with who we would play. Rarely did we get a trip that we had never done.
Then we get into the Europa League last season.
Whilst we revisited Madrid (to face Atletico) and Milan (to face AC), our run to the semi-final threw up some ridiculous trips.
The likes of Moscow (CSKA), Östersunds, Belgrade and Borisov were stars on the map that very had ever visited. Some nightmares to get too, others in the freezing cold and deep snow. The highlight for me was the trip to Cologne not too long before Christmas.
Arsenal might have lost 1-0, but it was a trip where the 90 minutes got in the way of a good trip abroad. It was a top trip with plenty of top people. Hardly any attention seekers or weirdos recording themselves. It was a proper Euro away.
So today it begins again with the Europa League group stage draw. As the highest ranked team, Arsenal are in pot one. But who else can we get?
So who do I fancy?
From Pot 2 a cheeky trip to Celtic is the stand out tie. A train up on the Thursday morning, watch the game, over nighter and then a train back Friday.
Real Betis are the best side in Pot 3, but they are also the side with the most enticing trip. An away game to Seville in September when the temperatures are in the 30s will give a good opportunity for some final beers in the sun before winter draws in.
Finally from pot 4 it has to be Slavia Prague. Prague is a great city, the beer is cheap. That’ll be a top away day.
It is gong to be another great season for the Arsenal away fans in Europe.