A trip to Emirates Stadium to face FA Cup holders Arsenal will provide Dundalk with some long overdue glamour in the Europa League group stages.
Since Stephen Kenny’s side first entered Europe in 2014, Dundalk have met 18 different opponents, including BATE Borisov twice. While there have been some heavyweights along the way, most notably Zenit St Petersburg in 2016, there have been few household names in this part of the world for players and fans to savour meeting.
All that will change later this month when Filippo Giovagnoli’s side take on Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal with players of the calibre of Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang, David Luiz, Alexander Lacazette and Willian among the potential players the Dundalk players can look forward to testing themselves against.
The Europa League’s highest seeded team are the glamour option for Dundalk in Group B. Rapid Wien of Austria and Molde of Norway also complete a group which gives Dundalk some decent travel options and a possibility of perhaps picking up some points.
Molde, managed by Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s former assistant Erling Moe, will be the first visitors to the Aviva Stadium on Thursday October 22nd. Dundalk will be able to rely on inside knowledge of the Norwegians with American Joshua Gatt having spent six years at the club during which time he won three Tippeligaen titles and two Norwegian Cups.
A week later will be the trip most looked forward to when Dundalk travel to the Emirates to face Arsenal.
There will then be back to back matches at home and away to Rapid Wien in Vienna before a trip to Norway to face Molde again at the start of December.
The group stages will then wrap up with the visit of Arsenal to the Aviva Stadium on December 10th.
While there remains great uncertainty due to Covid-19 that will represent the best chance of supporters getting to a game with UEFA allowing for 30% of a capacity to attend games subject to local restrictions allowing it.
Either way there are some exciting nights ahead and a chance for Dundalk to pit themselves against a side well known globally with some of the biggest names in the world.
It will also present challenges too with a hectic schedule for October as the club look to ensure qualification for Europe next season.
The club have had two fixtures rescheduled already as a result of their qualification. Waterford v Dundalk, originally scheduled for Saturday October 24th, will now take place on Sunday October 25th with kick-off at 2pm.
Dundalk v Sligo Rovers, originally scheduled for Friday October 30th, will now take place on Sunday, November 1st, with kick-off at 7.30pm.
October 22 – Molde (H) – 5.55pm
October 29 – Arsenal (A) – 8pm
November 5 – Rapid Wien (A) – 5.55pm
November 26 – Rapid Wien (H) – 8pm
December 3 – Molde (A) – 8pm
December 10 – Arsenal (H) – 5.55pm