• Sport

Gunning for a scalp / Dundalk to face Arsenal in UEFA Europa League

Dundalk vs Klaksvik
Dundalk's Daniel Cleary celebrates scoring the second goal of Thursday's game with his teammates. Photo Credit: ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne.

Dundalk will face Arsenal in the group stages of the UEFA Europa League after being drawn in Group B of the 2020/21 group stages.

Filippo Giovagnoli’s side will also face Molde and Rapid Wien in the group – but the draw with the Premier League giants is the eye-catching match up for the Oriel Park side.

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The Lilywhites were in Pot 4 and were drawn out in Nyon, Switzerland on Friday afternoon by former Juventus defender Ciro Ferrera. Dundalk will face a trip to the Emirates Stadium to pit their wits against Mikel Arteta’s side, whil the retrn fixture will be played in Dublin.

Norway’s Molde and Austrian side Rapid Wien will also offer a stern test for Dundalk in the group stages. The Irish side do have a former Molde player in their ranks; the US international winger Josh Gatt.

The Europa League group stage is due to commence on Thursday October 22, with fixture information to come. On Thursday evening, the Football Association of Ireland said they welcomed the UEFA decision to allow fans back into stadiums, for games under UEFA jurisdiction.

That UEFA decision could allow Dundalk fans to attend their home games in the group stages, depending on government restrictions in the capital.

Dundalk reached the group stages of the competition for the second time in five seasons on Thursday night, as goals from Sean Murray, Daniel Cleary and Daniel Kelly secured a 3-1 victory over Faroese side Klaksvíkar Ítróttarfelag at the Aviva Stadium.

Eight of the current Dundalk squad were part of the history-making squad that took part in the group stages of the 2016 UEFA Europa League, with Stephen Kenny’s team securing an away draw with AZ Alkmaar before beating Maccabi Tel Aviv 1-0 at Tallaght Stadium.

Gary Rogers, Brian Gartland, Andy Boyle, John Mountney and David McMillan were all involved in Thursday evening’s stunning victor over KI – while Sean Gannon and Dane Massey missed out through injury, and Chris Shields was suspended.

Qualification alone will boost the club’s coffers to the tune of €3 million while positive results during the six match group stage will also offer huge incentives to the reigning SSE Airtricity League champions.

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