Arsene can rest players for League Cup final after 3-0 thrashing of Ostersund tonight
It was important to get a good result this evening after losing to Spurs at the weekend.
And 3-0 was not only a good result on the night, it means Arsene can now afford to rest some of the players who started this evening in next week’s return leg, which falls just three days before the League Cup Final.
In truth Ostersund looked like a team who hadn’t played a competitive game since before Christmas - their league season having long finished before the first icy, sub-zero temperatures of the Swedish winter set in.
The stand-out performances this evening came from goal machine Nacho Monreal, and Mesut Ozil, who always looked like he had time on the ball - even on a quick, bouncy artificial pitch.
Mesut took his goal very well, expertly controlling a through ball which was laid just behind him, taking it into his stride and finishing beyond the keeper.
The charge that is often laid against Ozil is that he doesn’t turn up in the big games. From some quarters he was was criticised again against Spurs on Saturday, but my feelings were there were many worse than him.
For me it’s the defence - and the whole approach to defending at the club - that needs to be addressed once and for all this summer. Whether it will be sadly remains extremely unlikely as long as Arsene Wenger is at the helm.
Speaking of the boss, there were some strange comments from him before this game. He was quoted as saying: “I am not a great fan of the Europa League being a qualifier for the Champions League because I think it is not right.”
That, quite understandably, led many fans to wonder whether he was actually contemplating not bothering with the competition due to some sort of twisted sense of what is, in his mind, right or wrong.
Now if this was what Arsene meant, then what also must be questioned is the fairness of qualifying for the Champions League for the 19 previous years despite actually only being champions on three occasions - but that’s for another time.
For now I am prepared to give Arsene the benefit of the doubt and suggest that it, like so many of his words despite his 22 years in England, may have got lost in translation. The strength of the team he played this evening suggested he is taking this competition seriously - as he now has absolutely not alternative but to do so.
One final word, best wishes to Alexandre Lacazette, who faces around six weeks on the sidelines due to injury. Let’s hope he’s back before the end of the season - but with our record with injuries I wouldn’t count on it. As I say, let’s hope not.
The topic of our medical staff and the merits of their techniques is one for a whole blog of its own. But not for now I’m off to watch Partisan v Plzen. Oh how we love the Europa League.