Many Arsenal fans fully expected Mikel Arteta to rotate his players for last night’s Europa League game at Olympiacos, but he surprised us all by picking a very strong side, including dropping Emiliano Martinez, who played in all of our Group Matches in favour of our Number One stopper Bernd Leno.
It certainly proved to be the right decision as the German made many vital saves in a game we couldn’t afford to lose, and it is now very clear that Arteta is taking the Europa League very seriously indeed. Leno was certainly happy with his boss’s decision, and he told Arsenal.com after the game: “Of course because I want to play all the games, because we take this tournament seriously because it is another trophy and a chance to qualify for the Champions league so I want to play all these games and I am happy that the manager made the decision that I play the Premier League and the Europa League games as well.”
The German also made it clear how much the team wants to go all the way to the trophy this season, after our disappointment of losing to Chelsea in Baku last season. “We want to go all the way to the final again, to Poland,” Leno said. “And we want to win this trophy because last season we got to the final and it was very disappointing to lose. So this year we have another chance but I think we have to take it step by step and today we took the first step to go to the last-16 and next week we have another big game at home and hopefully we will go through to the next round.”
Last night was a very big step in our quest for the Europa title, and if we continue to show the resilience on display last night, I have great belief that this could finally be our year, especially if Arteta keeps picking his very best team available in every game…