What an awful game that was. For 89 minutes, it was a snooze fest. At points, it felt like I was watching an England game. It was dull, boring and uninspiring. But someone, by hook or by crook, we got out of Belgium with 3 points.
Despite being embarrassed at Borussia Dortmund and limping past Anderlecht, Arsenal are in a situation where they could guarantee qualification after the next round of games.
The equation is simple. We beat Anderlecht at home, which we should, we move on to 9 points. With Borussia Dortmund playing Galatasaray at home, it is likely that the German’s will win. That would leave the table looking like:
Arsenal would have an 8 point lead on the 2 sides below them, with just 6 games to play for. Qualified after just 4 games.
The question then is what do we do with the remaining 2 games?
Go out for the win in Turkey and at home to Dortmund in an attempt to finish top (where we could still end up facing Barcelona & Atletico Madrid as it stands), or send out the youths enabling our side to be a bit fresher for the weekend fixtures.
Personally, I would favour the latter.
With our paper thin squad, and massive injury problems, any opportunity to rest the entire 1st team should be taken with both hands.
Yes, finishing top reduces the chances of facing one of Europe’s Elite, but we will have to face them at some point to win the competition, and let’s be honest, it’s unlikely that we will win the Champions League this season.
The only advantage of finishing top and getting an easier knock out game was progression to the quarter finals guaranteed more coefficient points enabling us to remain a top seed. But with the change in UEFA rankings for 2015/16, where the top seeds will now be the holders and seven league winners from the top seven European leagues, Arsenal will be 2nd seeds no matter if they make the quarter final or lose in the first knock out stage.
By sticking out the youths, it will give players a much needed mid-week off, before games against WBA & Newcastle.
Yes, it might be a bit of a defeatist view, but with our struggling league form, surely it will be more beneficial to put ourselves in the best position possible to beat WBA & Newcastle by keeping the players fresh, than playing a strongest 11 in Europe when qualification is already guaranteed?
On top of that, we could end up beating Galatasaray and Dortmund, and still finish 2nd on goal difference – we currently have 7 to make up on Dortmund.
Yesterday was shocking, but a wins a win, and if we are sitting on the 4th of November with Champions League qualification in the bag, that is positive.