There may not have been anything at stake in last night’s game against BATE, but the Arsenal second team at last showed that they are all fit and ready to challenge for a starting place in the Premier League. One player that looked back to his best was our captain (for the night) Theo Walcott, and he thinks that the lads that played did so without any pressure. He said after the game: “I’d say that it was a performance that everyone enjoyed. Tonight we had already qualified, we went out with a bit of freedom.
“The manager said to go out and enjoy ourselves, that there was no pressure. Us players want to be playing every game we can. That’s what we’re doing at this moment in time in the Europa League but now we need to take that into the Premier League. It’s great to get through to the next stage and there are a lot of players that will have given the manager a headache.
“As I said before, when called upon, we need to be ready for the Premier League. When you get your chance in the cup competitions, you’ve got to be able to take them. I think a lot of guys have done themselves proud tonight and not just tonight but throughout the whole group stage. Now we need to take this forward into the knockout stage, where it gets even more serious. There’s a lot of players that can raise their heads high, definitely.”
Jack Wilshere looked keen and ready to step up and scored his first goal for two and half years, Walcott was pro-active and Giroud was desperate to score, and of course the surprise of the night for me was seeing Debuchy looking like his old self after a very long time out of the spotlight. Jack also made it clear that his aim was to impress enough to fight his way back into contention. He said: “On a personal note it’s nice to get on the scoresheet. I was playing in a more central position and had a bit more license to get in the box and get off more shots. I enjoyed that role, but overall we knew that the match didn’t mean much, but it could have been one of those nights if we didn’t give it the right amount of focus, so we played some nice stuff, got some nice goals and are happy.
“This is Arsenal, we have top players and all I can do when I’m called upon in the Europa League and off the bench in the Premier League is give my all, but at the end of the day what matters is the team. The team have been on a good run, except at the weekend, but we’re confident in all of our players, that we can bounce back. We have a good squad here and it’s tough getting ahead of some of these players, so all I can do is try and do my best.”
There were lots of good play from our reserves last night, so who do you think played well enough to put themselves in contention for the first team game on Sunday at Southampton?