Arsenal face Champions League stadium change as new sides confirmed for revamped system

Arsenal could see a stadium change emerge in next season's Champions League draw should they draw French side Brest
-Credit: (Image: David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

The Champions League format is changing and Arsenal’s second successive Premier League runner’s up finish means they will once again take part in UEFA’s elite competition after their recent hiatus. Reaching the quarter-finals in the final run of its previous iteration, Arsenal will now have an extra two first-stage games to contend with.

The group stage has been abolished in favour of an eight-game first stage where Arsenal will take on two teams from each of the four pots. Arsenal themselves are in pot two, with new rules meaning they will face opposition from their same pot.

The conclusion of the domestic season has meant that we have learned the fate of the sides entering the competition. England’s poor showings across European competition meant that additional spots went to Germany and Italy to some delight of Arsenal supporters as fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur therefore missed out on qualification and they will play Europa League football instead.

So far we know 29 of the confirmed 36 teams. Some interesting inclusions are Austria’s Sturm Graz who broke the Red Bull Salzburg cycle of league victories with the help of Arsenal loanee Mika Biereth – talks are ongoing over a potential permanent move that could see him face his parent club next season.

Bayer Leverkusen, the German Invincibles won the league under Xabi Alonso and did so with the help of former Gunners Granit Xhaka who has already said he would rather not play against his old side. Another German surprise are Stuttgart who managed to finish second to Leverkusen and above Bayern Munich who have since sacked Thomas Tuchel and appointed Vincent Kompany as head coach.

Girona, a member of the City Football Group, will embark on a new European journey of their own. Lastly, should Arsenal be drawn against French side and Champions League newcomers Brest, they will not even be playing in their 102-year-old stadium because it does not meet UEFA standards with reported plans – in fact only 5000 of its 15200 seater stadium meet the requirements.

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Instead, they have requested to use second-tier side Guingamp, situated around 70 miles away. The final seven teams will be decided by qualifying rounds which will include the likes of Lucas Torreira’s Galatasaray, Dinamo Zagreb and BSC Young Boys.

The expanded system means that games will run into the new year with the first matchday starting September 17, 2024 and ending on matchday eight on January 29, 2025. The top eight teams in the Swiss-style league will go straight through to the last 16 whereas the teams placed ninth to 24th will face-off in a two-legged knockout round taking place on February 11/12 and 18/19.

Teams will then be seeded and drawn for the last-16 which Arsenal will of course be aiming to have already qualified for with a top eight finish in the initial stage. The draw to find out who Arsenal will play takes place on August 29.