Arsenal kicked off their Europa League campaign with a 2-1 victory away to FC Zurich on matchday one last Thursday, in a game which highlighted the importance of European competition to the Gunners this season.

After five wins from six in the Premier League and a largely unchanged line-up during the opening weeks of the season, the start of the Europa League afforded much needed minutes to key rotation players, who did the job to kick off the group stages with a winning start.

Matt Turner, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Rob Holding, Fabio Vieira, Marquinhos and Eddie Nketiah were each handed their first starts of the campaign in Switzerland, with the latter three spearheading a devastating counter-attack which resulted in an emotional Marquinhos netting his first goal for the club.

Despite a controlling first-half performance, Arsenal gave away a penalty in the 41st minute, through Nketiah, which ensured the teams went into the break level, before Nketiah turned in a deep Marquinhos cross just after the hour mark to seal the 2-1 win.

With Arsenal’s strong start in the Premier League, Europe is the best opportunity for Mikel Arteta to rotate his squad and keep the likes of Vieira and Nketiah up to speed for when they are called upon. Not having rotation options ready to go cost Arteta dearly last season, but the Europa League can help that this year.
As things stand, Arsenal will also be considered amongst the favourites to win the whole competition alongside Manchester United and Roma, and, crucially, offers the Gunners a route to qualify for the Champions League in addition to a top-four finish.

A second route into the Champions League gives Arsenal flexibility later in the season, should they qualify to the latter stages of the Europa League, whilst keeping a greater number of players sharp. The Europa League is an important competition for the Gunners this season.

Next up for Arsenal is an away trip to Brentford on Sunday at 12pm, the scene of a 2-0 opening day loss last season, after the postponement of their Europa League home game against PSV Eindhoven following talks between the club, UEFA and the Met Police since the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, whose funeral takes place on Monday.