Good day all. It’s the penultimate round of Europa League group fixtures this evening with Arsenal hosting Eintracht Frankfurt at the Emirates Stadium in a contest that is key to the progress of both sides.
The Gunners need at least one win from their last two group games to ensure they go into the Europa ’round of 32′ as Group F leaders. Coming into this match on the back of a six-game winless run across all competitions one can sense Unai Emery would rather get the job done tonight. Not that it would lift much of the ill-feeling towards him, but just for self-preservation.
This has been a season of tumult and strife for the Arsenal. For a while the ‘cup games’ offered respite, but since Nicolas Pépé scored that pair of match-winning free-kicks versus Guimarães back in October we haven’t got a sniff; resulting in calls for Emery to exit the dugout only growing louder each day. With the big talk around the water cooler that he’s a goner, I sincerely hope that when he does take his final trudge back down the Emirates tunnel it is to applause and not a chorus of boos.
Eintracht Frankfurt had a great Europa run last season, not quite this time though with them needing all kind of permutations to advance to the knockout rounds. Any points they can get tonight would be a huge boost ahead of their final group clash at home to Guimarães in two-weeks.
They are not in good form at the moment, losing their last three matches (all competitions) on the bounce, but with Emery saying: “some teams come here [Emirates] and they are fearless against us”, we can be we sure their coach Adi Hütter’s ears perked up, thinking we are there for the taking. Incidentally the last time they won a match was the 5-1 razing of Bayern Munich; leading to Niko Kovac’s dismissal. A similar result here could see Emery meet the same fate.
Make no mistake, with the players Arsenal got there is no mitigation for this position we found ourselves in, and that is not even an exaggeration. The question however is will we start turning our season around with the Spaniard… or without?
Dani Ceballos has been ruled out for a few weeks with injury and there are doubts over the fitness of Sead Kolasinac, Bukayo Saka and Rob Holding; with the three unlikely to be risked.
The last time these two sides met the Londoners ran out comfortable 3-0 winners. With a very raucous crowd expected at the Emirates this evening Emery will be desperate for a similar result. So we could see him selecting a very strong matchday XI to purpose in a better performance than recent outings.