Good Morning Positives Arsenal,
A satisfactory result and, I thought, a good display last night from a line –up formed from returning casualties and youngsters, with just a hint of je ne sais quoi with the surprise insertion of Mo Elneny into the centre of the back three.
Of the game itself I admit just 14 hours on the details are fading and thee was not a lot of high quality football. My abiding impression of the evening is the crowd rocking noisily from the appearance of the teams to the final whistle, all except one moment that is. On the pitch I have flashes of Jack surging forward with the ball at his feet, Francis crashing in and out of tackles, and Reiss Nelson always available and in space to deliver a series of good crosses. Petr Cech was the busier first half goal keeper and he was very much in charge at the back last night, shouting and pointing at his makeshift defence with gusto. For a long period each time Matt Debuchy touched the ball I crossed my fingers but for a man who has played no first team football for a season he looked genuinely sharp and fit. He has come a long and no doubt very frustrating road. His return does however open the options up for Arsene to rest Hector, if required.
If the game of a swirling mist of half images then it is illuminated by one shaft of light, a few seconds of footballing quality that will remain in the memory long after the 2017/2018 Europa League campaign is consigned to historical record.
The neat and speedy build up to create the chance for Giroud was good by Jack and Theo, but Olivier’s finish with his back to goal, surrounded by defenders and with a gently looping ball was superb. There was no luck, no random chance in his careful guiding of the ball into the corner of the Belgrade net. For at least five seconds even the Red Star hordes were silenced. I have stolen this from elsewhere this morning but the line “he may not be a world class striker by the conventional measure, but he scores plenty of world class goals” sums up our Frenchman perfectly. It was a night on which, until the 86th minute not a lot had gone right for him, with much sweat but no reward, but he persevered. He who endures conquers. When the season is over that goal is still likely to be among my best moments.
The only disappointment I had last night was the red card for the Rodic which I thought was a little harsh and Francis’ involvement in the player’s second yellow regrettable.
So off to Goodison on Sunday. I watched the closing few minutes of their game against Lyon last night. Dead man walking Ronald, dead man walking. Needless to say we shall have probably ten different starters at kick off time but, as Arsene made clear in his pre and post match, Jack is not that far away from the Premier League start he craves. The momentum is positive.
Enjoy your Friday.