The task ahead of tonight is simple. Don’t concede a bucket load of goals and we’re in tomorrow’s draw. Olympiakos will arrive at The Emirates with nothing to lose so I’d imagine there’ll be no parked bus or low block, whatever the latest terminology for a defensive setup is because they need three goals to stand any chance of progressing in this competition. When did Arsenal last let three goals in? December 22nd 2020 against Man City in the League Cup is the answer. We lost that one 4-1, at home. Before then it was November 8th against Aston Villa, also at The Emirates.
Arsenal have come a long way since then I think. Admittedly, the team can be frustrating, sometimes boring but overall, silly errors aside, we’re better. I know that sounds like I’ve contradicted myself but when Arsenal are at their best, what Mikel Arteta is trying to build is clear. Or at least I think it is. Only sloppy finishing and the odd defensive cockup is the reason we’re where we are in the League. Since Boxing Day anyway.
In this competition Arsenal have done pretty well so far. The group stage was overcome with relative ease and with a second string group of players. Lacazette has virtually been reborn thanks to playing in the Europa League with the younger players. Even he though could be far more ruthless in front of goal. I know it’s easy to suggest he’s playing for a new contract or trying to tempt another club to offer him a huge deal but the most important thing now is how he’s playing for Arsenal.
I imagine the starting eleven will be similar to the one which won in Greece barring injuries and knackered legs.
It’s true that we have some players with some significant loads there, but our priority now is to win these next two games and then whatever happens with international duty. If anything, they will have to adapt to what we want. We’re not going to do it the opposite way around because we are the ones that have to look after our players here every day. But at the end, we’re the ones who pay our players so if anybody has to adapt, that’s the national teams and not us.
Well said Mikel.
We have two huge games, this one today and then a trip across London to face a strong West Ham team on Sunday.
Arteta has also spoken about the absence of Martinelli:
If anything it’s my fault, he has done everything perfect, he trains incredibly well every day, his attitude cannot be any better, he is disappointed he is not playing more obviously and I have spoken to him, but he needs to be a little bit patient. He had some minutes, he had some games as well and it’s true the competition for the front positions is very tough but he needs to be patient and he will get his chance.
With the five substitute rule in Europe, I think tonight is the perfect opportunity to give Martinelli more game time. He’s clearly fit and ready to play so why not give him 20/30 minutes from the bench? It must be hard for a player of his quality watch some of the performances by Aubameyang, Willian and Pepe for example, to understand why he’s not playing.
- Arsenal have progressed from five of their six Europa League knockout ties where they won the first leg, the only failure coming last season against Olympiakos, who turned around a 1-0 first leg home defeat to progress on away goals via a 2-1 second leg victory.
Olympiakos are without centre-backs Ruben Semedo and Avraam Papadopoulos, and winger Mario Vrousai. Ousseynou Ba is a doubt too.
For Arsenal, just Bukayo Saka is a doubt. I don’t think he’ll feature because the team needs him on Sunday a lot more than tonight.
See you in the comments.