It did not matter in the end what result Arsenal got away to Cologne tonight, as the other two clubs in our Europa League group drew so the Gunners will win the group anyway, but it was not exactly what we need in terms of form and confidence.
Having already qualified for the next round of the Europa League, Arsenal do not have to risk too much away to Cologne tonight, but at the same time it would be much better to get a result in Germany that would guarantee us top spot and keep the confidence building.
There was not too much for Arsenal fans to cheer about last night, apart from the fact the draw at home to Red Star Belgrade did turn out to enough to put us into the next round due to Cologne beating BATE. The other big positive came from the performance of young Matt Macey in goal, who right from the off looked calm and composed and went on to make at least one top class save that suggests he has a very bright future indeed.
I have no problem in understanding that Arsene Wenger has put the Arsenal games in the Europa League group stage down below the Premier League on his list of priorities. He probably would have done so anyway but when the fixture list threw up five EPL away games out of six following these Thursday night ties it really was a no-brainer for the boss to heavily rotate the Arsenal squad.
In the end a draw was enough to see Arsenal qualify for the next stage but it was hardly a classic.
Arsenal made a decent if not dazzling start and even though Arsene Wenger had made the usual mass of changes it looked as though the 11 players would be too good for the visitors. Even the young stand in keeper Matt Macey making his European debut showed early on that he would not be a weak link.
There is no doubt whatsoever that Arsene Wenger will have had one eye on the next Arsenal match as he prepared the Gunners for the Europa League game tonight, because we can afford to draw or even lose against Red Star Belgrade tonight and still be confident of progressing to the knockout phase of the Europa League, while losing away to Man City at the weekend will all nut end our hopes of winning the Premier League title.
Although it is clear to everyone that by far the most important of the next two games that Arsenal will play is the second of the two away to Man City in the Premier League, I still think that Arsene Wenger should be selecting strong Arsenal line-up to face Red Star Belgrade in the Europa League on Thursday, for a few good reasons.
I was seriously tempted to make Olivier Giroud my Arsenal Man of the Match from the 1-0 win away to Red Star Belgrade, because his goal was a thing of real beauty, but the France striker had a generally frustrating night. Though we were favourites across most Arsenal betting tips and news sites, the same could be said about the rest of the team, however Jack Wilshere stood out and did enough to get my vote.