What a strange world it is when you find yourself celebrating the return of Thursday night Eurotrash footy.
But given our Premier League woes of late, the Europa League has felt like a positive distraction. Hell, we’ve even scored some goals (nine in three games).
And tonight we’re away in Norway, playing our return fixture against Molde, who were the best of our opponents so far. I had thought Vienna would be the potential threat to us topping our group but Molde had a lot more about them.
They went a goal up against us at the Emirates and the eventual 4-1 score line in our favour flattered us (there were two own goals in the mix).
Although there will undoubtedly be a lot of changes from the team that Mikel Arteta would pick for a EPL game, I hope El Patron uses the opportunity to set us up in an attacking way and go for some goals.
It’s a chance for him to experiment with a more progressive formation, which he must surely be contemplating for the Premier League team as well.
The team news is that Elneny and Kolasinac are both still quarantined (although asymptomatic) as a Covid precaution; Saka, Partey and Willian have not travelled to Norway because of injuries, although the latter did fly to Antarctica to open a nightclub. OK, I made that bit up.
However David Luiz has travelled, following the birth of his baby daughter.
Victory would give us 12 points out of 12 and more or less guarantee that we top the group but I don’t see this being an easy game. I could see a 1-0 or 2-1 score line in Arsenal’s favour if we don’t sit back too much.
The Pepe question is an interesting one: Arteta seemed really angry with him after his red card at Leeds, but given that he is banned for three games in the Prem, surely it makes sense to use him against Molde and save someone else’s legs?
I would not be totally surprised to see Lacazette start (El Patron perhaps hoping to kick start a goal scoring run from the Frenchman), but I have gone with a line-up that I prefer.
Also, it would be great to see Emile Smith-Rowe get a full game in a playmaker role. A lot of Arsenal supporters have pinned their hopes on ESR as the answer to our lack of creativity. It may be asking too much of a very young and inexperienced player (certainly at EPL level) but we’ll never know unless we play him.
Here’s my stab at the line-up:
Soares – Mustafi – Luiz – Tierney
Willock – Xhaka – AMN
Pepe – Nketiah
Come On You Gunners.
10/10 for the headline
So, no wonder we saw little in the way of drive from Joe Willock since he was crashing and writing off his monster 4×4 on the M25 on Sat. Hope for the accident to be deleted from his mind come the weekend.
Anything but a mouldy old dough from the Gunners tonight will do me. Would love to see much of your team Rocky. Hope Nelson gets a decent look in if he has travelled ( not checked yet).
Having checked the squad, some very interesting Academy players travelled. Give one or two a taste, Mikel, especially IF ( a few goals would make us smile) we have a two or three goal lead.
@LBG that’s interesting and raises some awkward questions. Did the Club know about the crash? Should he have played?
They need to be careful with those motors. Too big, too fast, but I suppose they’ve got a lifestyle to live up too…
As a prophetic Spaniard once said about Jose Antonio Reyes: ‘He’s a small man with a big car’
According to reports Pete, he was late for training, so Club probably knew…..and he was probably fined to add to his misery.
Have a mellow and safe weekend with all you are with.
That goes for everyone on here too!
Go ESR, that is all I am going to say.
Hope to see a shot driven game.
Arsenal XI vs. Molde: Runarsson; Cedric, David Luiz, Mustafi, Maitland-Niles; Willock, Xhaka; Nelson, Pepe, Nketiah, Lacazette.
Arsenal subs: Macey, Bellerín, Tierney, Holding, Ceballos, Smith Rowe, Cottrell, Azeez, Balogun, Hein. #afc
I wanted ESR to start….☹
Has anyone got any suggestions as to how we can watch the game?
Interesting to see where Nelson is played
Thanks, Rocky. GiE is right, 10/10 for just the headline
Does it rain in Norway?
Rain goals, I mean
BT Sport? I mean “laogseh”? 🙂
Definitely going to need more from the Arsenal away support in the second half 🙂
I’m quite enjoying our movement and quicker passing in the attacking third, but our final decision making and quality has been poor. Hence no goals.
9 shots, 3 on target is an improvement.
Pepe, holds the ball too long and his shooting boots are not on today, and Laca, what does one need to say.
Nelson and AMN on the left have made me happy, and when AFC commits to quick passing they have moved it up the pitch well.
Goals to come?
Nelson knows that there really is a proper starting place up for grabs and is giving it his all. Hope he scores.
Everyone made that happen for Pepe, let’s be clear!
What is the point of Lacazette still being out there?
Nelson and Willock looking good.
Pepe is having a strange game – very influential, occasionally excellent and quite often frustrating, particularly with regard to him being apparently allergic to first time passes/shots.
I think Arteta is desperate for him to rediscover his scoring boots, but it may also be an indication that he won’t be in contention for a starting place on Sunday.
Sancho is a £100m player! Is he ???
Reiss Nelson has as much talent, IMO. Luck, a chance to play ( cheers Pepe), and confidence should grow. Good boy Reiss.
Willock’s ceiling could be very high
Like to see a goal for Eddie. Love his commitment for the badge.
You can almost see Pepe’s confidence growing in real time.
Sort of, it feels like: I’ve got my goal now I can show boat.
More skill in 2 seconds than from Lacazette in the previous 80
“YOUNGSTERS DO THE JOB…..EVENTUALLY.
Well done Folarin! Great play by ESR too.
Redders has been banging the drum for Balogun for a long time.
Some of these young players are making a real case for being EPL starters.
ESR with an assist and Balogun with a solid finish on first touch!
12F – 2A in Europe.
Goals in Premier League now, please.
Nice – we stuck to our three goal average in this competition
Pepe’s first goal – great first touch. He clearly has bags of skill.
Good to know it does rain in Norway. Cannot complain!
Secret of our faster movement today? Not sure.
No high expectations. Work in progress. Will be happy with a half decent result in NLD
ESR>Balogun…. beautiful!! Great second half… Glad Pepe scored… 2 clean sheets from Runarsson, I quite like what I’ve seen from him!
A much needed win and into the knock out stages…. sweet 👍
Good to read the glowing comments on the youth performance, I haven’t been able to watch the game as I’ve been up to my eyes in furlough calculations.
We know it’s only Molde but the question has to be where are Molde in relation to the teams we face in the EPL, are they a Sheffield United, a Leeds etc. If these lads are to show Arteta they are good enough they need to be dominating and winning comfortably.
Molde are not EPL but as the saying goes you can only beat who you play and I think the person who got the most out of that game was Arteta.
So hope you are right!
I also hope that his “awakening” tells him first, that the so called ‘B’ team are actually already close to an ‘A-‘ team, and deserve different consideration come Premier League Sundays.