Thursday Night Footy Is Different, But Could Be Rewarding For Arsenal

Arsenal will begin their Europa League campaign today against FC Cologne, in a match that should feature some personnel changes. Watching Champions League footy this week has been frustrating beyond imagination. No more The Championssssss before kickoff. Instead, we have to listen to the Europa League anthem. I couldn’t even tell you what it sounds like.

What’s been most frustrating about Arsenal in the Europa League is all the bullsh*t floating around the internet. You’d think no other so called big clubs have ever played in the competition.

Chelsea supporters talking all sorts of nonsense. You weren’t downplaying the competition when you won it a few years back. Or how about two years ago when you finished so far down the league standings (10th) that midweek footy last season wasn’t a thing?! Exactly, shut your fu&*en mouth!

United fans were all about the Europa League last season, but for some reason it’s embarrassing for Arsenal. Makes total sense.

But all that banter aside, this competition will and should give Arsene Wenger the opportunity to rotate the squad, allowing for more minutes to those who would generally be watching a Champions League match from home. Now, don’t misinterpret what I’m trying to say here. I still think Arsenal should take the competition seriously and want to win, but, they should have enough depth to get them into the late stages without having to put out their strongest squad regularly.

More minutes means the squad as a whole will have better match fitness, more opportunities to showcase their talent, making things much more competitive for the entire squad. Not to mention, it’s a European competition without the real pressure of the Champions League bright lights, and, Bayern Munich can’t get in our way, at least for now…

Between The Sticks

Europa League footy is the perfect opportunity to allow David Ospina to show us his inconsistencies, and hopefully shake them off. He should be the number one, giving Petr Cech some time off, and Matt Macey should be the Colombian’s backup. I would have liked to see Emi Martinez in this spot had he not gone out on loan, which in all fairness, is understandable. So in Ospina and Macey we have a big guy with little experience, and a little guy with big experience. What could possibly go wrong?!

Protecting The Guy In Between The Sticks

Arsenal has 16 defenders registered on their Europa League roster, with a hand full of those names being from the youth squad. With the uncertainty of whether or not Wenger will rever to four at the back, or continue with three, there are endless possibilities.

Seeing as they weren’t able to offload Debuchy, or even Chambers for that matter, both of them should be part of the matchday squad.

In my opinion, I haven’t seen enough of Chambers to really have a concrete opinion, but if there’s a competition that will allow him to learn and grow, it’s this one. Out on the right, Debuchy is still scratching his head trying to figure out where the hell it all went wrong, and how the hell he’s still employed by Arsenal. Seems like this guy has been on the market for an eternity, yet no one is able to take him away. Like putting your house on the market, and month after month continuously lowering the price. Eventually this guy will walk for free.

If Wenger still isn’t happy with his fellow countryman, he could always put Rob Holding out there. The former Bolton defender has spent plenty of time on the right side before arriving in North London, and to be honest, a few extra touches out there may help bring back his confidence.

Fine, you don’t want Holding out there, well, Jordi Osei-Tutu can play anywhere across the back, but is naturally a right-back, and Tafari Moore is back from injury. Unleash the young guns!

The regular first team starters should be used less frequently, especially today seeing as Arsenal travel to Stamford Bridge on Sunday. Can’t have any tired legs out there, or unexpected injuries.

Pulling The Strings

There are two names that automatically come to mind when thinking about Arsenal’s midfield in this competition.

One, Jack Wilshere should feature regularly. Even if he’s not able to go the full 90 yet, there’s absolutely no reason as to why he shouldn’t be on the teamsheet. The second name… Reiss Nelson.

He was great to watch in pre-season, and has continued his fine form into the current campaign. He’ll surely be looking forward to some first team footy, so why not a chance at home in a Europa League match? It would be a great learning experience not just physically, but he’d also get a chance to work on controlling his emotions. Every time he gets the ball, you know the Arsenal supporters will be cheering him on to run past every defender in his path.

Two others I think should feature regularly are Maitland Niles and Alex Iwobi.

I’m not entirely convinced by Iwobi, but I think he has the potential. Instead of forcing the issue during the Premier League even with him not having match fitness, this is the perfect opportunity to give him a run out. And the same can be said with Maitland Niles. This speedster has been out of position for quite sometime, because we know Arsene Wenger likes to do that, but I think if given the right opportunities, he could shine. So how about we throw the lads out there and let them show us what they can do.

He Shoots, He Scores

Loads of firepower to put the ball in the back of the net, but who will Arsene Wenger choose?

Well, Olivier Giroud should be an automatic for sure. The big Frenchman showed his loyalty to the club this Summer when he chose to stay in North London to fight for a spot. Many others would have walked away and taken an opportunity elsewhere, but not Oli. He’s scored some vital goals for the Gunners over the years, and unfortunately tends to get a load of stick because he’s not quick and fancy with the ball at his feet. Go on Giroud, silence your critics!

Theo Walcott should probably get some chances in this competition as well. He’s been like the third or fourth child, who has been essentially neglected because his big brothers are better footy players than him. Ok Theo, here’s your chance. Either show up and put in a shift, or, honestly, it’s time for you to go collect a salary elsewhere.