Tonight Arsenal could qualify for the Europa League knock out stages after just 4 games. Victory will ensure that a top 2 place is guaranteed. If BATE Borisov fail to beat FC Koln, top place is ensure with 2 games to go.
Now I am not going to celebrate too much, as I understand that the Europa League is the 2nd tier of European football, but to qualify easily, having mainly used a second string and youth, is a positive.
I read yesterday someone saying Arsenal are disrespecting the Europa League by playing youngsters and a 2nd string. I laugh that we have won 3 from 3 whilst playing the second string. We have put out the players needed to win the games.
Meanwhile, the likes of Everton, Athletic Bilbao and Hertha Berlin are heading out of the competition.
Arsenal might not be giving the competition 100% of their focus, but we are doing enough to get through and, like Manchester United last season, will surely increase the strength of the side as the competition progresses.
A lot of people look down on the Europa League, they scoff at it, but it is a competition I would love to win.
An early summer final in Lyon. In the South of France with my mates. The type of people who sit and say I would rather be in the Champions League and not win, than the Europa League and win probably never go to games. They watch on TV.
The same sort of people probably moan that we have only won the FA Cup in recent years. We have won it 3 times actually. 3 times in 4 years.
Spurs beat Real Madrid last night. Oddly a lot of Arsenal fans on Twitter were saying how brilliant they were. How they had shown Arsenal how to play in Europe. That it had shown great progression.
But they forget Spurs have won nothing. Even Mauricio Pochettino said last night that beating Real Madrid means nothing if we win nothing.
It is the odd mentality of the modern football fan that winning a single game, like that against Real Madrid, is deemed as good as winning a trophy.
Last week, Spurs were knocked out of the League Cup by West Ham. They justified their collapse by saying that they had bigger fish to fry. This is a side that have won just two League Cups in 26 years.
Fans have become picky about what trophies they want their club to win. It is like turning down the fat one from Little Mix because you want to shag the blonde one, yet the reality is you have no chance with the blonde one.
Beating Real Madrid might create a great, short term memory, but ultimately it means nothing.
As for Spurs showing Arsenal how to do it in Europe, last I looked, Arsenal had no problems getting through the knockout stages of the Champions League with games to spare. Spurs are not doing anything miraculous, anything unique.
Now if they win it, it is another story, but the reality is there is no difference if they fail to qualify or get knocked out in the semi-final. Bar some trips away (many of which Arsenal fans have already done), you end up with nothing. No trophies. An empty cabinet.
Between 1995/96 and 1996/97 Newcastle United finished 2nd twice, playing a brilliant brand of attacking football under Kevin Keegan. In 1997/98 they beat the mighty Barcelona at home in the Champions League, Faustino Asprilla scoring a hat trick.
Bar a couple of FA Cup semi-finals in the following years, Newcastle won nothing. Their last domestic honour was the 1954–55 FA Cup.
Following on from Newcastle was Leeds United. A brilliant young side filled with English talent.
Leeds went on a brilliant Champions League run in 2001, culminating in a Champions League semi-final appearance. They lost.
The previous year, they made the UEFA Cup semi-final. They also lost.
Both Newcastle and Leeds were relegated in the mid 00’s. They won nothing during their successful periods. Everyone loved them. The odd folk who have second teams cheered them on.
Ultimately, if you fail to win trophies, it does not really matter how many brilliant nights in the San Siro or Wembley you have. These games will just be forgotten into history.
And this is why I want us to win the Europa League.
Last season Manchester United won both the Europa League and League Cup. Some people scoffed at them, laughing at them just winning minor honours. But what did fans of the clubs laughing at them win? Probably nothing.
Yes, they finished 6th, but in winning the Europa League they secured Champions League football.
Give me finishing 6th and winning two trophies over finishing 2nd and winning nothing any day. Some might say but we want to progress in the league, be competitive in the league but there is no trophy for that. No one remembers who finished 2nd.
These same people probably laughed at Arsenal winning the top 4 trophy. And now they laugh that Arsenal did not make the top 4 yet won a real trophy in the Europa League.
The moral of the story is simple, nothing matters until you win a trophy.
As for the Europa League, there could be some interesting sides dropping into the Europa League: CSKA Moscow, Celtic, Atlético Madrid, Sporting Lisbon, Spartak Moscow, Napoli, RB Leipzig & Borussia Dortmund currently occupy 3rd place in their groups.
I have no qualms about playing any of these.
Because we are the Arsenal and we are the best. We are the Arsenal so f**k all the rest.
Enjoy the game tonight.