It’s another European exertion for the fringe players tonight, as ‘Arsenal Midweek Select XI’ take on Red Star Belgrade at The Emirates and as I’ve said before, I’m coming around to this midweek football, mainly because it doesn’t seem to have the same tenseness that I get around the Premier League games. Also known as ‘the ones that matter’.

Of course if we get to the latter stages then this competition will start to crank up in terms of nervousness for this here gooner and I’m sure that when we play Atletico Madrid in the next round it will be an entirely different journey.

But until then I’m enjoying the social aspects of going to the Football and the fact that the game can be a win or lose regardless. Of course there’s probably something in the fact that Arsenal have won their first three matches, remaining top of the group and come up against a Red Star team that we’re no great shakes on their own – intimidating – patch. 

So tonight we’ve got to be fairly confident that qualification is achievable and the opportunity to hit 12 points with two games to spare in our grasp. I’m not too much of a betting man – horrible in fact at picking winners – but if you’d like to have a free bet with no deposit then fill yer boots.

The manager talked up his rotated squad and what’s happening with the morale in the press conference he gave yesterday and in what will come as no surprise to any of us, he plans to rotate his team tonight, as he has done with most other games in midweek. So it’ll be a chance for Matt Macey again I reckon, along with Nelson, Maitland-Niles, Debuchy, Holding and then there’s a decision to be made on who goes with them in the back three, as Chambers is still out. I suspect we’ll see Elneny again so brace yourselves folks, because the pain of players playing out of their natural position is continuing tonight.

As I said above though, at least it’s not in the league that we’re so threadbare, yet.

Midfield will no doubt have a Coq in the middle and I suspect it’ll be another chance for Willock to strut his stuff. He’s looked composed on the ball when playing and this is another game and more minutes for which he can get used to life in the first team. This experience will be another invaluable one for him and so I hope he takes it and continues to look assured on the ball as he has done.

The front three should contain the old heads of Wilshere, Walcott and Giroud and whilst I wondered if Iwobi might play with Jack sitting deeper, Arsène’s presser put the kibosh on that as he admitted Jack is in position to compete with Özil and Alexi for those forward lying roles.

Red Star’s main threat last time seemed to come from that lad Boakye up front and so I suspect they will look to use him and his pace to unsettle a clearly makeshift back three, but with it being Arsenal at home you’d expect us to dominate possession, so I just hope that we can strangle any attacking intent from Red Star early on in the game.

Here’s to another Olivier wonder strike and hopefully qualification secured this evening.

Up the Arsenal.