Happy Europa League day.
As always on a Thursday, there is plenty of debate as to the strength of the team we should put out.
After the Southampton draw, the discussion was whether Arsenal had ran out of steam. And playing Thursday – Sunday was a huge contribution to that.
I just think it was a game we had the chances to win, but didn’t take them. It will happen across a 38 game season.
It was important for Mikel Arteta to put out a strong team in the group stages of the Europa League.
Firstly it is is a competition we can win, and one I want us to win.
Our lack of European trophies of something opposing fans will always use. Our European record is horrendous.
And if we are being honest, we are more likely to win the Europa League than the Premier League.
Firstly it was important to qualify, which we have now done. But next we need to ensure we win the group.
For those that do not know, group winners automatically go into the last 16 group stages, set to start in March.
So if we top the group, we can forget about European football for 4 months.
Finish 2nd and you go into a “play-off” held during February.
Not only is that play-off an extra two games, it is also against a team that finishes 3rd in the Champions League. As it stands it could be against one of these:
Finishing top of the Europa league is essential!
So I expect a strong team is tonight once more. One point is enough for top place.
This weekend we face Nottingham Forest at home. It is our easiest fixture in what has been an arduous October.
Next weekend we face Chelsea, so it is essential that we have top secured and can put out the under 15s or the women against Zurich next week.
That will give the senior lads a full week of rest and recuperation ahead of the Chelsea fixture.
Tonight I would expect us to go to a similar team that saw off Bode. So perhaps not as strong as the home game against PSV.
Expect Eddie to replace Gabi up top, Vieira to come in for Odergaard and Tierney, Lokonga and Turner to play.
Predicted line up: Turner, Cedric, Saliba, Holding, Tierney, Lokonga, Vieira, Xhaka, Nelson, Nketiah, Gabriel.
If you’re already out there (or heading out this morning) – enjoy!!!