I hate Thursday nights, but I have to get over it as the Europa League now has parity with the Premiership when it comes to the future of Arsenal Football Club (I cant believe i’m saying that!). Tonight we take on Belarus’s most successful team FC BATE Borisov and former player Aliaksandr Hleb, in the first leg of our Round of 32 fixture. Despite Ramsey and Ozil not travelling with the squad, we should have too much for the team from Barysaw, particularly over two legs.
The final takes place at the Olympic Stadium in Baku on May 29. Napoli are the standout team remaining in the competition, but with notable clubs like Inter Milan, Chelsea, Sevilla, Valencia still in play, the road to Baku won’t be easy. With competition for fourth on a knife edge, the Europa League has never been more significant. The nightmare scenario of Manchester United finishing fourth and Chelsea winning the Europa, leaving us as the only top six outfit without Champions League football, is not too far-fetched. This week’s Champions League fixtures reiterated how far we are behind Europe’s elite. PSG with the electric Mbappe looked frightening. I fear another season without Champions League football will set us back even years.
For me, the return of Mkhitaryan to fitness is key, for our efforts on both fronts. His creative output and ability to nick a goal will hopefully take some of the pressure off of Iwobi and Kolasinac who have been burdened with leading our creative efforts recently. I am also excited to see Denis Suarez in action. If he can quickly find form, then the impact of the £350k a week elephant in the room will diminish.
Emery is going to have to use all his experience in this competition to navigate this path.
Prediction: BATE Borisov 1 – 3 Arsenal
Ramsey seals his Juventus move
Aaron Ramsey sealed his move to Juventus, signing a bumper £400k a week deal according to BBC, and for what its worth, i’m super happy for him. The boy from Caerphilly has been the model professional and given his all to the club during his 11 year tenure. How on earth we are letting a player of this calibre leave for free is criminal, but we are where we are. Raul Sanllehi and the leadership must not let this happen again otherwise the already fragile goodwill with the fans will vanish for good.
Good luck Rambo, and I hope you can rediscover your 2014 form in Turin.