FIFA’s major summer announcement that will affect Arsenal in the Europa League next season

Arsenal will be competing in the Europa League next season and there’s something different about how the group phase will operate due to this winter’s World Cup.

It’s the Europa League for Arsenal to look forward to next season and with it could perhaps be their most realistic chance to finally end this long absence from European football’s elite club competition.

Of course, the reward for the winner from the next Europa League final – which will take place in Budapest at the Puskas Arena on May 31, 2023 – is a guaranteed a place in the Champions League group phase for the 2023/24 campaign regardless of where they finish in their domestic league.

Arsenal have reached one Europa League final, two semi-finals and knocked out at the round of 32 stage since the 2017/18 season, but not one of Arsene Wenger, Unai Emery and Mikel Arteta have been able to get their hands on the trophy. So will it be fifth time lucky for the north London outfit?

This week, we’ve looked at the changes to the Europa League format since Arsenal were last in the competition a couple of seasons ago with the incentive of avoiding two extra games by topping the group or dropping into the UEFA Conference League by finishing third.

But those aren’t the only alterations ahead of the Gunners’ big return to the European stage – albeit the second-tier competition. Granted this one is a temporary change, but it’s still worth mentioning as the Europa League group phase next season will commence and conclude earlier than usual.

As explained by UEFA’s official website, matchday one of the group stage gets underway on September 8, 2022 and the final matchday is slated for November 3, 2022 which means next season’s Europa League group phase will be completed in eight weeks instead of the usual 12.

In previous Europa League campaigns, games are played at least every fortnight but that will only happen between matchday four and five next season. Furthermore, as the schedule below shows, there won’t be any fixtures played in December which is usually the deciding month.

Europa League Group stage schedule for 2022/23 season

  • Matchday 1: 8 September 2022
  • Matchday 2: 15 September 2022
  • Matchday 3: 6 October 2022
  • Matchday 4: 13 October 2022
  • Matchday 5: 27 October 2022
  • Matchday 6: 3 November 2022

The reason for the change in the schedule is pretty straightforward; The 2022 World Cup which is scheduled to take place in Qatar from November 21 to December 18 following FIFA’s major announcement from over a decade ago that the biggest tournament in football has been moved from its June-July slot to the winter due to the intense heat in Qatar around summertime.

As a result of the new World Cup dates and with a mid-season break planned for Europe’s top-five leagues in the second week of November, it means the Europa League group phase will be sped up and Arsenal will have a hectic start to next season with Premier League fixtures and Carabao Cup ties also factored in.

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