European football over The Arsenal is back after its one year hiatus.
Sorry, when I say back at The Arsenal, our first game is actually in Zurich, away to the Swiss champions that share its cities name.
Zurich currently sit 9th in the Swiss league and were knocked out of Champions League qualifying by Qarabag. They then limped past Hearts and Linfield to make it into the the Europa League group stages.
Arsenal should comfortable win tonight, but the Europa League does have a habit of creating shocks.
Weakened teams, “stronger” sides not quite being up for it and the weaker sides seeing it as their chance to shine on a global stage will always lead to the odd upset. the Europa League is a bit like the FA Cup in that sense.
Early team news is that Thomas Partety is still out (although there are rumblings that he could be fit for Everton). Mohamed Elneny and Reiss Nelson are long term injuries.
They are joined by Emile Smith Rowe who had a recurrence of his old injury in the warm down against Manchester United.
I love Smith Rowe. A Hale End boy done good. And he was fantastic last season. But his injury record is a concern.
As a youngster coming through, he suffered from groin and hamstring injuries.
He has yet to start a game this season and from the looks of the way he pulled up in the warm down, it is his hamstring again.
Speaking in his injury his pre-match press conference, Mikel Arteta said: “He felt discomfort in an area that [he’s been dealing with] now for a few weeks. He wasn’t comfortable after the game and he hasn’t trained in the last few days, so he’s out of the squad.”
Hamstring injuries are notorious for recurring (recurrence rate is 32%).
Whilst it is too early to be saying we should cash in on him, a decision might need to be made at the end of the season.
Smith Rowe will be 23-years-old so will still fall under the “talented young player” category. With 3-years left on his contract, we could cash in on him before his injury record begins to affect his market value.
Those funds could then be spent on someone with a cleaner injury record – and potentially a better player.
I am not saying sell him now, just saying he it is one to keep an eye on. And if he does get sold next summer it will show Edu has developed the ruthless side needed.
In other news, Thomas Tuchel was sacked last night.
Chelsea are becoming such a badly run club under the new regeime.
The new co-owner clearly loves the attention and is maintaining a “hands-on” approach to running the football club, despite not knowing anything about football.
Todd Boehly sacked all the football people in the Senior Leadership Team and has now sacked the manager.
Their approach in the transfer market made little sense as they overpaid for young players with little to no experience and also bought in highly played senior players whose best years are in the back mirror – Aubameyang and Koulibaly look awful signings.
A lot of money wasted, and the owners do not have bottomless pits like Roman.
It will be interesting to compare their next 5-years with Liverpool’s.
Liverpool are going through an equally tough time but will probably stick with Klopp.
The Liverpool owners have proved that they will stick by their man and keep the long term in mind. Chelsea still seem short term-ist.
Graham Potter will be an interesting appointment for Chelsea.
Clearly a talented coach who began his career at Östersund. He got his reputation in England when playing Arsenal.
I thought he would be an outside bet to replace Gareth Southgate after the winter World Cup, but he would be silly to turn down the big money Chelsea will probably be offering.
Anyway, enough about them.
Fingers crossed we get back to winning ways tonight!