Arsenal lose second-leg home advantage in Europa League because of Chelsea
ARSENAL’S reward for overturning a first-leg defeat to Rennes is that they face one of the toughest sides left in the Europa League in Maurizio Sarri’s former club Napoli.
What’s worse for the Gunners is that they have also lost their second-leg home advantage in the tie because of Premier League rivals, Chelsea.
After being drawn against the Serie A giants, Unai Emery’s side would have played the decisive game at the Emirates after a trip to Italy.
But because Chelsea are playing Slavia Prague at home that week, the fixtures have been reversed so that Arsenal will face a tough second-leg in Naples.
London police and the local authority say it is impossible for the city to host two European ties on consecutive days, meaning one would have to be switched.
And Uefa regulations give higher priority to the Blues as domestic cup holders, after they bested Manchester United 1-0 to claim the FA Cup last May.
A UEFA statement before the draw read: “Following a decision made by the relevant local authorities, Chelsea FC and Arsenal FC cannot play at home on the same night.
“Should both clubs be drawn within the same sequence (home or away), the team having the lower priority – in this case Arsenal FC because Chelsea FC won the FA Cup – will be reversed in accordance with the UEFA Club Competitions Committee principles.
“The match schedule for the quarter-finals (including a potential reversal involving Arsenal FC) will be communicated to all parties at approximately 14.45 CET on Friday 15 March.
“The calendar for the semi-finals (including a potential reversal involving Arsenal FC, for the same reasons, if both clubs from London are still remaining in the competition) will be communicated to all parties on 20 April at the latest.”
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The two English rivals also cannot now meet until the final after the draw placed the two London clubs in separate halves of this season’s competition.
If Arsenal get through they will face either Villarreal or Valencia, meanwhile, Chelsea would be rewarded with the winners of Benfica and Eintracht Frankfurt.
Maurizio Sarri got the better of Unai Emery in August with a 3-2 victory at Stamford Bridge but Arsenal got their revenge in January with a 2-0 victory.