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In Focus: Arsenal's Europa League opponents Eintracht Frankfurt

In Focus: Arsenal's Europa League opponents Eintracht Frankfurt
© Reuters
The Bundesliga side reached the semi-finals of the Europa League last season, but sold three key attackers over the summer.

Arsenal begin their third successive Europa League campaign with a tricky trip to last season's semi-finalists Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday night.

The Gunners were beaten finalists last year, slipping to a 4-1 defeat to Chelsea, and will be hoping to go one step better this campaign.

Here, the PA news agency takes a closer look at the Bundesliga side who will most likely pose the biggest threat to Arsenal's progression from Group F.

Going, going, gone

West Ham striker Sebastien Haller joined from Eintracht Frankfurt in the summer
West Ham striker Sebastien Haller joined from Eintracht Frankfurt in the summer (John Walton/PA).

Frankfurt shocked plenty of onlookers last year as they charged to the last four of the Europa League, only to crash out on penalties to eventual winners Chelsea.

Adi Hutter's side finished seventh in the Bundesliga but were the entertainers in continental football, their talented front three amassing 56 of the 90 goals Frankfurt scored in all competitions.

But that trio have all moved on during the summer, 27-goal top scorer Luka Jovic landing a transfer to Real Madrid, 19-goal Sebastien Haller moving to the Premier League with West Ham and Ante Rebic departing for AC Milan, all for a reported total of over 100million euros.

Replacing such firepower will prove a huge challenge this year and, with Bas Dost joining from Sporting and Andre Silva signing on a season-long loan from Milan, the front line looks as though it will not boast as many goals this time around.

Adi dazzler

Adi Hutter took over from Niko Kovac as Eintracht Frankfurt boss
Adi Hutter took over from Niko Kovac as Eintracht Frankfurt boss (Mike Egerton/PA).

Head coach Hutter was appointed last summer after Niko Kovac left for Bayern Munich.

The Austrian joined having just delivered the Swiss title to Young Boys, although a rocky start at the Commerzbank Arena followed.

Hutter would eventually turn things around and two lengthy unbeaten runs over the course of the campaign saw Eintracht achieve their highest league finish since 2013 and reach the last four of a major European trophy for the first time in 39 years.

Premier League links

Former Huddersfield defender Erik Durm is now at Eintracht Frankfurt
Former Huddersfield defender Erik Durm is now at Eintracht Frankfurt (Adam Davy/PA).

A few names in the Frankfurt squad will be familiar to followers of the Premier League.

Full-back Erik Durm joined from Huddersfield this summer, while combative midfielder Gelson Fernandes had a spell at Manchester City a decade ago before a later loan stint with Leicester.

Jonathan De Guzman won the EFL Cup during a two-year stay at Swansea and joined an elite list of players to have scored in the top flights in England, Spain, Italy and Germany when he hit his first goal for Frankfurt last September.

Fast Tracht

While Arsenal have played five Premier League games heading into this opening Europa League fixture, Frankfurt have had more than double that number of competitive matches with 11.

Hutter had to guide the club through the Europa League qualifiers, seeing off Estonian side Flora, Vaduz of Lichtenstein and Ligue 1 outfit Strasbourg to reach the group stage.

Add to that a DFB-Pokal first-round win at third-tier Waldhof Mannheim and four Bundesliga games – two wins and two losses – and Frankfurt should be more than ready for Unai Emery's visitors.

Star Man

Martin Hinteregger is a key figure in the heart of the Eintracht Frankfurt defence
Martin Hinteregger is a key figure in the heart of the Eintracht Frankfurt defence (Tim Goode/PA).

For a club who sold a number of their leading lights during the summer, it is difficult to know who will emerge in their place over the coming months.

But centre-back Martin Hinteregger is an important cog in Hutter's side. Having initially joined on loan during last season, the deal was made permanent for a reported 12million euros in June.

An Austria international, the 27-year-old played under Hutter at Red Bull Salzburg as the pair won the league title, and he will be key to keeping Arsenal's forwards quiet on Thursday night.

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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates scoring his second during the Premier League game between Watford and Arsenal on September 15, 2019
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool98102171425
2Manchester CityMan City96122992019
3Leicester CityLeicester9522168817
4Chelsea95221914517
5Arsenal94321312115
6Crystal Palace9423810-214
7Tottenham HotspurSpurs93331513212
8Burnley93331211112
9Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd933387112
10Bournemouth93331313012
11West Ham UnitedWest Ham93331113-212
12Aston Villa93241513211
13Wolverhampton WanderersWolves92521212011
14Manchester UnitedMan Utd9243109110
15Everton9315813-510
16Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton9234912-39
17Southampton9225916-78
18Newcastle UnitedNewcastle9225514-98
19Norwich CityNorwich92161021-117
20Watford9045521-164

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