The Champions League is over, the big show is tonight, Arsenal vs the MIGHTY Slavia Prague.
What did we learn from last night?
That teenagers can do it at the highest level.
Jude Bellingham, 17 years old, dropping a big performance against a top 3 side in the world.
Phil Foden, haircut of a god, not quite a teenager, but young enough to be worth mentioning because he decided the game.
Mikel Arteta falls back on his safety blanked of senior players like they’re the Milan side from the 90s. I’m sorry, I can’t have it. There’s no Inzaghi, Seedorf, or Pirlo to fall back on in this group. We have seen that movie enough times.
‘One last job for the boys’ usually ends up with the robbery vehicle stalled with everyone going to jail.
Tonight is about the kids showing the world how good they are.
We need their energy. Their hunger. The decisive nature of their football offering.
Auba wasn’t at training yesterday. Maybe he really does have flu? Who cares. What I care about is knowing whoever is on that plane is ready to deliver in a game that is absolutely vital to our season.
ESR is fit. Martinelli is fit. Saka is fit. Those three, playing at their peak, is enough to take the tie.
Lacazette will likely start again, I like the role he takes on, creating openings for the pace technicians.
Thomas Partey should be the pivot in supporting two banks of 3, or even a 6 man forward line.
I’m a little concerned about Xhaka at left-back again, only because the Slavia forwards have more confidence and they seemed quite fast on the break.
This Arsenal team has enough to win tomorrow. We just need to show up with the same urgency and aggression we saw at the weekend.
Unai Emery in the next round will no doubt be tougher, but at least the game will have some zest about it. Last time we played Villareal in the semi-finals, we made the Champions League final. It’d be pretty sexy to do it again.
This is a big moment for Arteta.
The worry is that he is often more concerned about proving his ‘manager’ decisions in the summer were the correct ones. We need the Arteta that knew his job was on the line at Christmas.
Pick the best team. It’s that simple. Don’t select on reputation, salary, or the memory you had of said player from 6 years ago. It’s time to move this project on, accept what hasn’t worked, and go for the starting 11 most likely to execute the game plan.
Liverpool was a disaster. Slavia at home, regardless of the chances, was a disaster. Time to make amends, and as a 7 famous sounds artists once said…
‘Reach for the stars’
‘And when that rainbow’s shining over you’
‘That’s when your dreams will all come true’
Big night. Let’s see what the players have! Make our dreams come true.