UEFA Europa League - 2020/21 SeasonMatch press kits
|SK Rapid Wien||Weststadion - ViennaThursday 22 October 2020|
18.55CET (18.55 local time) Group B - Matchday 1
Rapid Wien welcome English powerhouses Arsenal to the Austrian capital for their opening game of UEFA Europa League Group B.
• This is the clubs' first UEFA competition encounter.
• Rapid overcame Aston Villa two seasons running in the UEFA Europa League play-offs to qualify for the group stage – in 2009/10 (1-0 h, 1-2 a) and 2010/11 (1-1 h, 3-2 a). Those are their most recent fixtures against English opposition, though the most famous was the 1985 European Cup Winners' Cup final, which they lost 3-1 to Everton in Rotterdam. Their all-time record against English visitors to Vienna is W1 D2 L1.
• Arsenal have been paired with Austrian opposition just once before in UEFA competition, and although they lost the second leg of their European Cup first round tie in 1991/92 against Rapid's city rivals Austria Wien 1-0 in Vienna, they had already taken command with a 6-1 victory at Highbury – English football's first European Cup match in six years following the Heysel ban – in which striker Alan Smith scored four goals in 16 second-half minutes on his European debut.
• A runners-up spot in the 2019/20 Austrian Bundesliga, 12 points behind champions Salzburg, earned Rapid a return to Europe after a year's absence and a place in the UEFA Champions League second qualifying round. There they overcame Lokomotiva Zagreb 1-0 away before losing 2-1 at Gent – a result that transported Dietmar Kühbauer's team into the UEFA Europa League group stage.
• This is the Vienna club's eighth participation in the UEFA Europa League group stage. They have progressed through to the knockout phase just twice previously, in 2015/16 and on their most recent appearance in 2018/19, when they finished second on ten points behind Villarreal, eliminating both Rangers and Spartak Moskva. They were subsequently knocked out in the round of 32 by Internazionale (0-1 h, 0-4 a).
• Rapid are unbeaten in their last 13 home games in the UEFA Europa League group stage (W8 D5) since Bayer Leverkusen defeated them 4-0 at the Ernst-Happel-Stadion in October 2012.
• A disappointing eighth in the 2019/20 Premier League, Arsenal ensured a 25th consecutive season in Europe by winning the FA Cup – their record 14th triumph in the competition – with a 2-1 victory over London rivals Chelsea in the final. Their third successive UEFA Europa League campaign ended in the round of 32 with an extra-time away goals defeat by Olympiacos (1-0 a, 1-2 h).
• UEFA Champions League ever-presents for 19 seasons in a row 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 de Madrid, before going one step further and making it to the 2018/19 final, where they were defeated 4-1 by Chelsea in Baku. They have been group winners on all three of their appearances.
• The 1999/2000 UEFA Cup runners-up are unbeaten in six European away games (W4 D2). Their overall away record in the UEFA Europa League is W11 D3 L4 (W6 D2 L1 in the group stage).
Links and trivia
• Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta came on as a half-time substitute in both legs of Paris Saint-Germain's 6-2 aggregate win against Rapid in the 2001/02 UEFA Cup second round (4-0 h, 2-2 a).
• Rapid's Srdjan Grahovac and Arsenal's Sead Kolašinac are fellow internationals for Bosnia and Herzegovina.
• Rapid's Christoph Knasmüllner played for English second-tier club Barnsley for six months in 2018, whereas team-mate Marcel Ritzmaier is currently on loan to Rapid from the Yorkshire club.
• Three Arsenal players have already appeared against Rapid in the UEFA Europa League, all in victories with clean sheets. Bernd Leno kept goal in a 4-0 win for Bayer Leverkusen in the 2012/13 group stage, Shkodran Mustafi was in the Valencia defence for another 4-0 win, in the 2015/16 round of 32, and Cédric played in both games for Internazionale (1-0 a, 4-0 h) in the 2018/19 round of 32.