Arsenal v Frankfurt September 19, 2019
There is evidence of Celtic and Germanic settlements in the city dating from the 1st century bce, as well as Roman remains from the 1st and 2nd centuries ce. The name Frankfurt (“Ford [Passage or Crossing] of the Franks”) probably arose about 500 ce, when the Franks drove the Alemanni south, but the first written mention of Franconofurt stems from Charlemagne’s personal biographer, Einhard, in the late 8th century. The Pfalz (imperial castle) served as an important royal residence of the East Frankish Carolingians from the 9th century through later medieval times. In the 12th century the Hohenstaufen dynasty erected a new castle in Frankfurt and walled the town. The Hohenstaufen ruler Frederick I (Frederick Barbarossa) was elected king there in 1152, and in 1356 the Golden Bull of Emperor Charles IV (the constitution of the Holy Roman Empire) designated Frankfurt as the permanent site for the election of the German kings.
Despite the clubs’ European pedigree, they have never previously faced each other in UEFA competition.
Eintracht are unbeaten in five matches against English visitors but have drawn three of them, including 1-1 against Chelsea in the first leg of last season’s semi-final. They also drew the return leg at Stamford Bridge by the same score before losing 4-3 on penalties.
Arsenal have played 38 UEFA matches against German clubs with the record W17 D6 L15. Their last four fixtures on German soil have all ended in defeat, most recently at Köln (0-1) in the 2017/18 UEFA Europa League group stage, the previous two having been 5-1 routs in the UEFA Champions League at Bayern München. Their all-time away record in Germany is W5 D5 L9.
Frankfurt’s 14-match UEFA Europa League adventure in 2018/19 brought memorable knockout phase wins over three teams that had crossed over in mid-season from the UEFA Champions League – Shakhtar Donetsk, Internazionale and Benfica. It was accompanied by a seventh-placed finish in the Bundesliga.
The 1980 UEFA Cup winners embarked on this UEFA Europa League campaign in the second qualifying round, where they comfortably saw off Estonia’s Flora and Liechtenstein’s Vaduz before having to come from behind to eliminate Strasbourg (0-1 a, 3-0 h) in the play-offs and reach the group stage for the third time. Their first appearance, in 2013/14, also resulted in further progress before they lost to Porto on away goals in the round of 32.
Eintracht’s overall record in the UEFA Europa League, home and away and including qualifying, is an eye-catching W21 D6 L3. Their home record in the competition is an equally impressive W12 D3, with only Porto, Inter and Chelsea – UEFA Champions League winners all – having denied them victory. In the group stage it is six wins out of six with 17 goals scored and just one conceded.
UEFA Champions League ever-presents for 19 successive seasons from 1998/99 to 2016/17, Arsenal reached the UEFA Europa League semi-finals at the first attempt in 2017/18, losing to eventual winners Atlético, before going one step further and reaching last season’s final, where they were comprehensively defeated by London rivals Chelsea.
Fifth place in the 2018/19 Premier League secured a third successive UEFA Europa League group stage berth for the Gunners, who had won five European games in a row – one against Rennes, two apiece against Napoli and Valencia – before the loss in Baku.
The 1999/2000 UEFA Cup runners-up won all three away fixtures in last season’s group stage without conceding, having won two out of three in 2017/18, the defeat at Köln the lone exception. Their overall away record in two UEFA Europa League campaigns is W9 D1 L4, with 25 goals scored and 12 conceded.
Arsenal head coach Unai Emery is poised to take charge of his 75th UEFA Europa League game, group stage to final, extending his own record.