Arsenal face Champions League nightmare after Atalanta won the Europa League

Atalanta won the Europa League in Dublin on Wednesday night (Image: Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images)

Arsenal face the prospect of a daunting Champions League draw following Atalanta’s triumph in the Europa League final on Wednesday.

Atalanta, under the guidance of Gian Piero Gasperini, secured a 3-0 victory over Bayer Leverkusen at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium, clinching their first significant trophy since 1963 and earning a place in next season’s elite European club competition.

Former Leicester and Everton forward Ademola Lookman was the star of the show, netting an impressive hat-trick. Both Italy and Germany had already been assured a fifth Champions League spot before the match due to their UEFA coefficient rating.

It means Tottenham, who failed to secure a top-four finish in the Premier League, will compete in the Europa League instead of Europe’s premier competition.

Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal face a very difficult Champions League draw (Image: Getty Images)

However, Atalanta’s victory could potentially grant Italy a staggering six places in the Champions League if they maintain their current position in the Serie A table. They sit fifth with one game left to go.

Roma, who are certain to finish sixth, would ascend to the Champions League as the fifth league qualifier. If Atalanta manage to surpass Bologna or Juventus on Serie A’s final day, securing third or fourth place, Roma would then participate in the Europa League.

However, if Roma secure a Champions League spot, they would move into the top seeding block due to their higher five-year coefficient score than Barcelona.

Arsenal, meanwhile, are expected to compete in the second seeding block alongside teams such as Juventus, Bayer Leverkusen and Atletico Madrid.

From the 2024/25 season, the Champions League is set to be expanded from 32 to 36 teams. Under the new league-style competition rules, every team will play two clubs from the four seeding pots.

Clubs cannot play sides from the same country, meaning Arsenal, Manchester City, Liverpool and Aston Villa are not able to face each other.

The seeding pots are now directly determined by coefficients, compared to the previous system which saw the Europa League winners and the champions of the top six divisions of European football in the first tier. That means Arsenal and Aston Villa are facing nightmare draws.

In the worst-case scenario, the Gunners might have to face Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain from Pot 1 and Barcelona and Juventus from Pot 2 should they drop into the third seeding block.

Every team will play eight matches in the group-stage phase, which is not set to be completed until January due to the new format. The top eight in the ‘final’ league table are set to qualify for the last 16, with teams placed ninth to 24th set to fight it out for the right to join them in the seeded draw.

That means the losing eight sides would get eliminated, alongside teams placed 25th to 36th who immediately exit the competition from the group stage.