Arsene Wenger has been adamant that he wants his Arsenal team to concentrate on the Premier League this season, and he has confirmed that by playing weaker and weaker sides in our three Europa League games so far. It may have been a little risky but our makeshift sides have done him proud by winning all three and practically assuring that we go through the Group Stages with ease.
It has certainly given our kids and reserves a chance to gain valuable experience in front of big crowds, and a massive 50,000 welcome in the Stadion Rajko Mitić made it a real test of nerves. But they held off a team that has lost just one League game in their League in the last year and were unbeaten in their 5 previous Europa League games this year. But our kids, in the form of Reiss Nelsen, Chris Willock and Maitland-Niles impressed everyone, including Arsene Wenger, who said afterwards: “I agree with you not only in their performance, but they showed character as well, it’s not easy to express yourself at 18 years of age. To play in such a heated atmosphere shows how much resilience to stress [they have], which is an important quality at our level.”
And some peripheral players like Debuchy, El Neny, Giroud, Holding, Coquelin, Walcott and Wilshere all played admirably to try and stake a claim back in the first team. Wenger was especially pleased with Debuchy’s return: “I am pleased for him because he survived 90 minutes without any setback, he had only played one half in the under-23s on Monday night and overall he had a positive performance for someone who has been out for such a long time.”
And our ex-wonderkid Jack Wilshere stepped up again and earned our Man Of The Match award, and according to Wenger he will now get more first team chances. “He will get a chance in the Premier League, don’t worry about that. I think at the moment it’s going like that. He got a big kick in the first half on his ankle but he managed to get through the 90 minutes and games of that intensity will, of course, help him a lot.”
So it was a positive night for our second string squad, and after winning our first three they can carry on for our last three Group games, while our A-Team tries to get back on track in the League. Without an away win so far, our trip to Everton this weekend is now of the utmost importance. Come on you Gunners!