Vorskla Poltava suffered a costly home defeat last time out and must win and hope against already-qualified Arsenal.
Article top media content
Semi-finalists in 2017/18, Arsenal visit Ukraine with ten Group E points in the bag and qualification for this season's knockout phase already assured. Their hosts Vorskla Poltava must turn around a poor home record in Europe to have any chance of joining the London club in the round of 32 – though even a win might not be sufficient.
• Vorskla have won just one of their four Group E matches, 1-0 at Qarabağ on matchday three, losing the other three, including both at home – to Sporting CP (1-2) and Qarabağ (0-1) last time out. To remain in contention they must beat Arsenal and hope that Sporting do not do likewise in Azerbaijan.
• Arsenal clinched qualification on matchday four despite dropping their first points of the campaign when they were held 0-0 at home by Sporting. Their first two away games brought maximum points and clean sheets, a 3-0 win at Qarabağ followed by 1-0 at Sporting. Should they earn a third win in Poltava, they will be guaranteed top spot in the group – though matching Sporting's result at Qarabağ would also do.
• Arsenal kicked off their campaign by beating Vorskla 4-2 in north London, the Ukrainian side saving face in their first game against English opposition by scoring the last two goals after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (2), Danny Welbeck and Mesut Özil had put the home side 4-0 up. Arsenal have now faced Ukrainian clubs on 11 occasions and that win means they have a positive record of five victories as opposed to four defeats.
• However, all four of those losses have come in Ukraine, where the Gunners are yet to win in five UEFA Champions League group stage visits, having lost twice apiece to Dynamo Kyiv and Shakhtar Donetsk. Their solitary point came from a 1-1 draw at Dynamo in September 2008.
• Vorskla secured a place in this season's UEFA Europa League group stage by finishing third in the 2017/18 Ukrainian Premier League – their joint-highest ever final placing, which matched their achievement in 1996/97, when they qualified for Europe for the first time.
• This is the club's seventh European campaign and their second in the UEFA Europa League group stage. They had to win three qualifying ties to make the grade in 2011/12, including a play-off success against Dinamo Bucureşti, but their six group games yielded just two points and bottom place in a section featuring Standard Liège, Hannover and FC København.
• Vorskla have lost five of their last seven European home fixtures, with even the one win during that sequence – 3-1 against Žilina in the 2015/16 UEFA Europa League third qualifying round – proving in vain after a 0-2 first-leg defeat in Slovakia.
• The Gunners finished sixth in the 2017/18 Premier League – their lowest final placing under Arsène Wenger in his swansong season as manager after 22 years. It earned them a second successive qualification for the UEFA Europa League group stage.
• UEFA Champions League ever-presents for 19 successive seasons until last term, Arsenal reached the UEFA Europa League semi-finals at the first attempt, going out to eventual winners Atlético Madrid.
• The 1999/2000 UEFA Cup runners-up also had ten points after four games on their UEFA Europa League debut last term – then, as now, with three wins preceding a 0-0 home draw – before their unbeaten record ended on matchday five with a 1-0 defeat at Köln. Their away record in the UEFA Europa League is W6 D1 L2, with 16 goals scored and just six conceded.
Links and trivia
• Arsenal's Henrikh Mkhitaryan played in Ukraine from 2009–2013 for Metalurh Donetsk and Shakhtar Donetsk, scoring twice in the league against Vorskla for each club.
• Mkhitaryan played alongside Vorskla goalkeeper Bohdan Shust for both Donetsk clubs and was a team-mate of Olexandr Chyzhov at Shakhtar.
• Arsenal are on a run of three successive clean sheets in the competition – the longest sequence in this season's group stage – and need two more to equal the all-time UEFA Europa League record currently held jointly by Napoli and Salzburg. Eleven other clubs have managed four in a row, including fellow Premier League sides Newcastle, Liverpool and Manchester United.
• A tall centre-forward, Vasyl Sachko played in the Ukrainian top flight for Volyn Lutsk and Kryvbas Kryvyi Rih before moving to Vorskla in 2008. He has been with the Poltava club ever since, four years as a player then two as assistant coach before taking on the head coach role in the summer of 2014. As a result of leading Vorskla to third place in Ukraine in 2017/18, he qualified the club for the UEFA Europa League group stage, of which he had a brief taste as a player in 2011/12.
• After two years with Paris Saint-Germain that yielded seven domestic trophies, Unai Emery was appointed as Arsenal manager in May 2018, replacing the long-serving Wenger. The Spaniard oversaw Sevilla's historic hat-trick of successes in the UEFA Europa League from 2013/14 to 2015/16, having assumed control following a four-year tenure at Valencia and a brief stint at Spartak Moskva. He has been in charge of more UEFA Europa League games than any other coach, this being his 64th.