Good morning sons and daughters of the Positive persuasion,
I would say a measured step into the “Round of 32” of the Europa League achieved with minimum fuss last night. We expected a positive result, we got the result we needed. The A team v B team format in PL and Cup competitions is working very well indeed in my opinion. The B team combination of young players adding to their experienced, returnees from long term injury and players more used to bench duties were more than enough to overcome Serbians without an obvious ‘star’ anywhere in the pitch, red of otherwise.
Make no mistake though, Red Star were a difficult, professional opponent. Like us they came wanting a result and they got the result they wanted.
There was some frustration even at my end that we did not manage to overcome the Belgrade bus approach the adopted in the second half and score but hey ho. I managed not to break out into barrage of booing when referee Banti finally closed proceedings. I am assured on Twitter that a good booing and a collective tut-tutting is good for players’ development. I am not convinced.
Of our lads well done to Matt Macey for two good first half saves. He has waited for four years to even get on the pitch in a serious game for the club. Four years for a guy just past his 23rd birthday must be an age , or it was as far as I can remember. It must be satisfying to know that all the hard work and energy Matt has put into training finally made a difference on the pitch.
I thought Jack had an excellent second half and he and Reiss Nelson running at the visitors defensive line with the ball at their feet seemed the most likely way we would eventually prise them open. And when Jack tumbled to the pitch or was on the end of a hard Balkan boot up he jumped. Interesting performance from Elneny who appeared to be all over the pitch for the final 30 minutes, managing to come back three, roving midfielder and even striker at one point as striker on the edge of the 6 yard box. Did Mo decide to do that or did Arsene just tell him to “express himself” ? AMN also deserves a mention for a decent evening and a good second half. I am still not sure he is a wing back but there is no lack of effort on his part.
A rather different set of problems will face Arsenal at the Etihad on Sunday, and game I am thorough looking forward to. We will however be addressing them with an almost entirely different set of tools.
Brevity is the soul of wit so enjoy your Friday.