The draw for the Europa League last 32 has been concluded and Arsenal have been drawn against Benfica from Portugal.
The Portuguese giants who currently sit second in their League will be Arsenal’s first test in the Europa League knockout stage.
The first leg will be played in Portugal on 18 February with the return leg being played a week later in London on 25 February.
Benfica finished second in their group behind Rangers, but they are a side that can’t be underestimated so it will be a tough match.
The Gunners last season were knocked out at this stage by Olympiakos and this year they’ll be desperate to win this competition to salvage their season which has been darkened by their Premier League results.
Arsenal will be happy that they have been drawn with Benfica as it got eliminated in the UEFA Champions League qualifiers hence ending up in the UEFA Europa League and were also not that impressive as they conceded nine goals in those six group stage matches. Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta will still want his team to be at his best in this game as the North Londoners were embarrassed last season when Olympiacos eliminated them in the early stages of the competition last season.
Arsenal mostly used youngsters in all in their six group stage matches and it will be interesting to see how Mikel Arteta will start setting up his team in the knock outs but it’s believed that he will of course use stronger squads as the UEFA Europa League is important for them for yet another campaign as it might be the only way to get UEFA Champions League football for next season as their league form is disastrous.