Tag Archives: Arsenal

Europa League is the place to be

This year the Europa League could be an enjoyable competition to be in.

Whilst we have been conditioned by the media to look at the Champions League with envious eyes, it is a competition which gave Arsenal fans very little joy in the 2 decades we played in it – there really is no joy being smashed 7-2.

2006 and the odd big away win aside, it become a competition that Arsenal fans became jaded of being in during the later years.

Whilst the Europa League might be the second competition, and frustratingly playing on a Thursday means more Sunday games, it is also a competition which has been enjoyable than the Champions League.

Arsenal have been awful in the Champions League, following the same blue print almost every season.

Cruise through the group stages before being knocked out by Barcelona, AC Milan or Bayern Munich. It was a competition we had little chance of winning. The Europa League, meanwhile, is a much more realistic chance of a trophy.

In the 2 years we have played in it, we have been semi-finalists and then finalists. The next logical step is that we go on to win it. A European trophy. Something which Arsenal have very few of. Something which Arsenal would unlikely achieve if playing Champions League football.

As the quality is also lower; it has provided a fantastic opportunity to watch our kids play.

The Champions League – the group stages especially – became boring. At least with the Europa League, you know that by turning up tonight against Standard Liege, you are going to see a load of youngsters play.

Against Eintracht Frankfurt we saw starts given to Emile Smith Rowe (who is out tonight), Joe Willock and Bukayo Saka. Tonight against Liege I expect Gabrielle Martinelli and Reiss Nelson to also be in the start XI – although Saka might be given a rest having played 90 minutes against Man U and likely to start on Sunday against Bournemouth.

So we will see a whole host of academy products in the starting XI as well as Hector Bellerin, Kieran Tierney and Rob Holding continuing their rehabilitation. It will be a young, exciting team. Something that would not happen in the Champions League.

The Europa League has also bought up some fantastic trips.

Whilst in the Champions League, it felt like we were continually being drawn against the same times. Olympiakos, Marseille in the group stages. Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the knock outs.

The Europa League has seen us visit some new places in Central Europe and some fair flung places in Eastern Europe.

Liege away before Christmas will be a decent trip, as will Vitoria in a few weeks. Cologne is one trip that will be talked about for years. And those who made the long trips to Eastern Europe and beyond bonded over cheap beer and vodka.

I do miss the Champions League, mainly because I miss playing on Saturday. But I do not miss the boredom and predictability of the competition.

Lets turn up tonight. Embrace the Europa League, and back the kids.


Expected line up:


Belelrin Mustafi Holding Tierney

Willock Maitland-Niles

Nelson Ozil Ceballos




Positives-a-plenty for Arsenal fans

We are 4th

‘On tonight’s performance, and from what I’ve seen recently of United, and Arsenal, if you’re these over teams out there, West Ham, Leicester, Chelsea, if there’s ever a chance for them to get in the top four it’ll be this season.’  – Roy Keane

 ‘We are not going to finish top 4 if we can not beat that Manchester United team’ I some say.

The response from Roy Keane and others has been absolutely laughable and ignored the fact that Arsenal’s 1-1 draw with Manchester United took the club 4th in the table.

Earlier this season, Manchester United beat Chelsea 4-0 at home. So if the draw between United and Arsenal was proof that The Gunners would not be top 4, what did Chelsea’s defeat prove?

It is also a joke that Keane says ‘if there’s ever a chance for them to get in the top four it’ll be this season’ considering that Chelsea were top 4 last season. He really is a rent-a-quote gobshite who should stick to walking his dog.

The truth is Arsenal are top 4, despite not playing well yet this season.

3rd is still our realistic goal.

A case for the defence

Little has been written about Arsenal defensive injury crisis; with 3 of Arsenal’s 1st choice 4 defenders having yet to play a league game this season.

Hector Bellerin, Kieran Tierney and Rob Holding are all on the cusp of returning and it could transform us.

We have conceded 11 goals in  games which is far too many – but still less than Chelsea who Roy Keane claims will finish ahead of us.

The fact that we are top 4 without Bellerin, Tierney and Holding means we have plenty to be optimistic about when they return.

With all 3 in the team, we will be better. So 4th without them, finishing top 4 with them is not too unimaginable.

Big games played

7 games in and we have already been to Old Trafford. Already been to Anfield. Already hosted Tottenham in the North London Derby.

We have played 30% of our games against the top 4 this season, whilst only playing 18% of our Premier League games.

4 of our 7 games have also been away.

Despite a tough, front loaded start of the season, we are 4th.

Up next is Bournemouth. We should win. We should go 3rd.

New players yet to settle

We spent a lot of money over the summer, with Kieran Tierney, Nicolas Pepe and Dani Ceballos being the most exciting signings.

Due to injuries, Tierney has not yet started in the league. Whilst Nicolas Pepe has not yet really settled – he was very poor against Manchester United.

Dani Ceballos has looked good in his cameo roles, but that is all at has been so far.

Once Tierney is fit, Pepe and Ceballos have settled, we will be like a different team – especially going forward.

We are top 4 with our 3 key signings having contributed very little, if anything. Exciting times ahead.

Boys done good

With all the moaning and negative around the club, it has gone unnoticed by most how well our kids are performing.

Bukayo Saka looks a star in the making – Alexandre Lacazette has opened up the door for him to make the left wing position his own. Whilst Joe Willock and Reiss Nelson have both looked good when called upon.

20-year-old Matteo Guendouzi is putting in performances that deify his young age and he now has to be considered our 1st choice midfielder. The fact Manchester United tried to foul him out of the game is testament to his ability.

Add in Gabriel Martinelli and Emile Smith Rowe, Arsenal have 6 lads under 21 looking good.

As the season go’s on these boys are only going to get better. If we are 4th with them now, how much further could we go with them?

So in summary are 4th in the league, despite having not played our best defence and despite our new boys not settling. On top of that we have a lot of very exciting youngsters coming through.

Plenty to get positive down The Arsenal if you ignore those who leach of negativity.


Emery should resist temptation to play returning pair against Man U

On Monday Arsenal face Manchester United away. It is a game that would solidify Arsenal’s top 3 intentions if they win; or plunge us back into depression if we lose.

Following their good performance against Nottingham Forest, there have been plenty of calls from fans to put Rob Holding and Kieran Tierney into the starting XI for the key game against Man U. Emery should not bow down to the pressure.

Tuesday’s 5-0 victory over Nottingham Forest was Rob Holding’s 1st senior game since December 2018.

Holding suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on during a 2–2 draw against Manchester United nearly a year ago.

Likewise Tierney has spent 4 months out following a hernia injury, which subsequently required surgery for.

Both players are top young talents and will be mainstays in the Arsenal first team, so it is important that Emery looks at the bigger picture.

All being well, this season Arsenal will play around 50 games. There is a lot of football to come.

To cope with the work load, Emery needs to rotate his squad and ensure players do not pick up long the term injuries that hampered the clubs top 4 and Europa league challenge last season. It is also important that he manages the work load of returning players so that they immediately break down once more.

Both Holding and Tierney performed brilliantly against Nottingham Forest, but a Premier League game against Manchester United would be a huge step up; and one which might be a step up too soon.

What makes more sense is to leave both with the “mid-week squad” in the short term.

Next Thursday we play Standard Liege at home. It would make more sense to play Holding and Tierney in that game, continuing their rehabilitation at a lower level, than put them into a big game at Old Trafford.

It might be seen as some as a bit of a risk not to play both against Man U, but looking at the bigger picture it makes a lot of sense.

Following the game against Liege, Arsenal face Bournemouth. Once again Emery should not be tempted to put Tierney and Holding in.

After Bournemouth, we have an international break, with our 1st game back against Sheffield United on Monday 21st October. That is nearly a month away.

This should be the game that Holding and Tierney are slated in for a Premier League return.

The Sheffield United fixture is over 3 weeks away. By that point both players would have had a months full team training under their belt, as well as 2 senior games. They will be ready for Premier League football.

Putting them in against Manchester United would be short sighted. It would be playing the strongest XI at the risk of one of the 2 suffering another injury – which is likely for players returning from long term problems.

Not playing the pair against Man U means that come Sheffield United, both (and Hector Bellerin) are fit and strong and ready to go for the rest of the season. A sacrifice in the short term to see the benefit in the long term.

I am excited to see Holding, Bellerin and Tierney play together. They will be 3 of the back 4 for at least the next 5 years. But to ensure we get the best out of them for the next decade, it is important that we keep their recoveries from long term injuries slow and do not rush them back.