Fourth plays first as Dundalk strive to avoid a Group B whitewash in their final European fixture of the season at home to an Arsenal side on maximum points.
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Fourth plays first as Dundalk strive to avoid a Group B whitewash in their final European fixture of the season at home to an Arsenal side who, already through to the knockout phase as section winners, will be equally keen to complete their group campaign with maximum points.
• While Arsenal posted their fifth successive Group B victory – and fourth in a row by a three-goal margin – in defeating Rapid Wien 4-1 in London last time out, Alexandre Lacazette's 20th UEFA Europa League goal opening the scoring, Dundalk went down 3-1 at Molde, thereby equalling a competition record with their ninth consecutive group stage defeat.
• Arsenal were 3-0 victors against Dundalk on Matchday 2 in their first UEFA encounter with opponents from the Republic of Ireland, Eddie Nketiah, Joe Willock and Nicolas Pépé scoring the goals in a four-minute burst either side of half-time.
• This is Dundalk's first official match at home to an English club since they lost 1-4 against Liverpool in the first leg of the 1982/82 European Cup first round (1-5 on aggregate). The previous season they had drawn 1-1 at home to Tottenham Hotspur in the European Cup Winners' Cup second round first leg, before losing the return 1-0 in north London.
• Dundalk retained the League of Ireland title in 2019, making it five triumphs in six years and 14 overall. Finalists also in the FAI Cup, which they lost on penalties to league runners-up Shamrock Rovers after a 1-1 draw, their 2019/20 European campaign ended in the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round against Slovan Bratislava (0-1 a, 1-3 h). They had been eliminated from the UEFA Champions League a round earlier by Qarabağ (1-1 h, 0-3 a).
• Beaten 3-0 at Slovenian champions Celje in their UEFA Champions League first qualifying round tie this term, Dundalk came through three subsequent UEFA Europa League qualifiers – 1-0 at Inter d'Escaldes, 5-3 on penalties after a 1-1 draw away to Sheriff, and 3-1 at home to KÍ – to book their second appearance in the competition's group stage following a 2016/17 campaign in which they registered four points to finish bottom of a section including Zenit, AZ Alkmaar and Maccabi Tel-Aviv.
• Dundalk have lost their last nine UEFA Europa League group fixtures, matching that competition record for consecutive defeats previously held alone by Slovan Bratislava. They have won just two of their last 11 European home matches (D4 L5).
• Eighth in the 2019/20 Premier League, Arsenal ensured a 25th consecutive season in Europe by winning the FA Cup under new manager Mikel Arteta – the club's 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 four UEFA Europa League appearances – an unprecedented feat.
• The 1999/2000 UEFA Cup runners-up are unbeaten in eight European away games (W6 D2) since Rennes beat them 3-1 in the 2018/19 UEFA Europa League round of 16 first leg. Their overall away record in the UEFA Europa League is W13 D3 L4; in the group stage it is W8 D2 L1, the only defeat coming at Köln (0-1) in 2017/18.
Links and trivia
• Arsenal defender Kieran Tierney's next appearance in UEFA club competition will be his 50th.
• Dundalk's Jordan Flores, a scorer at Molde on Matchday 5, is English and played in his homeland for Wigan as well as having loan spells with Blackpool, Chesterfield and Fylde.
• Also born in England but now representing Nigeria, Nathan Oduwa started his career with Arsenal's north London rivals Tottenham before playing on loan for three other English sides – Luton, Colchester and Peterborough.
• Several other Dundalk players have spent time with English clubs – Andy Boyle (Preston, Doncaster loan), Patrick Hoban (Bristol City, Oxford, Stevenage loan, Grimsby loan, Mansfield), Sean Murray (Watford, Wigan loan, Swindon, Colchester), Cameron Dummigan (Burnley, Oldham), Patrick McEleney (Oldham) and Aaron McCarey (Wolves, Telford loan, Walsall loan, York loan, Portsmouth loan, Bury loan).
• Arsenal's Reiss Nelson celebrates his 21st birthday on Matchday 6, while Dundalk coach Shane Keegan turns 39 on the same day.
• Arsenal's win on Matchday 5 was their 28th in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final, the most in the competition by an English club – three more than local rivals Tottenham, who have played an additional 11 matches.
• If the Gunners win in Dublin, they will join ten other sides that have won all six games in a UEFA Europa League group – including Tottenham (2013/14).
• Arsenal's tally of 16 Group B goals is the highest number ever registered by an English club in a UEFA Europa League section – one more than Tottenham's tally in 2013/14.
• Dundalk finished third in the 2020 Premier Division to qualify for next season's UEFA Europa League qualifying phase. They were 22 points adrift of champions Shamrock Rovers when the abbreviated 18-match league concluded on 9 November.