Morning folks. It’s Monday, we’ve had to sit through a weekend of not only Arsenal-free football, but divey Tottenham Football and although I won’t dwell on Alli and his wobbly legs, what I will say is that when you fail to appropriately chastise people, to punish people who cheat, they will keep on doing what they’re doing.

The gambler who finds a way to cheat at a card game doesn’t stop after one successful con. He/she keeps going, each time emboldened to circumnavigate the rules each time. Until he/she is caught and punished it keeps happening. And this is being perpetuated by people in authority and those who can reach out to a wide audience. The sweeping under the carpet continues.

Anyway, enough about that team who, given their cup fixtures are most certainly going to find themselves in a semi final (in which case how hilarious it will be to see them all suddenly interested in the FA Cup, having derided our three in four seasons), which is something I don’t want to countenance this morning. So let’s talk about something else.

How about the fact that winning away to a small provincial team in central Sweden has supposedly sent a strong message to the rest of Europe? That’s if you believe the testimony of Mo Elneny, who has been talking to beIN sports, who seem to have the monopoly on the Arsenal team and manager. I wonder how they do it? They seem to get Arsène all the time on their channel but how when he won’t actually talk to any of the English press in a one-to-one setting?

I think it’s probably because he gets to heavily ‘red pen’ any messages he doesn’t want going out. It’s the only way he’d get anywhere near a media outlet I think. Although he’s said some spicy stuff in the past.

Anyway, I’m rambling, so it’s back to Mo. I can’t say I share his supposed belief because if we’re completely honest, Östersunds spent half the match looking afraid of the Arsenal players last week. I suppose that’s to be expected in terms of where they came from as a club, but whether or not Dortmund, Atletico Madrid, Napoli and Milan were all scrambling to watch the tapes of the game I’d be a little sceptical.

And it’s some of those names that need us to deal a little reality check about our chances of this competition I’m afraid. We’ve been poor all season away from home and whilst the Europa League has provided respite in terms of away form, the teams we have come up against have clearly been a step down in class compared to a lot of Premier League opponents we face every week.

Dortmund, Lazio, Napoli, RB Leipzig, Atletico Madrid, Real Sociedad, Milan. All decent teams and there’s a couple in there that certainly have European pedigree. Whilst we can all talk about how we should be one of the favourites in the competition, I think (and I’m guilty of this too by the way) we should be looking at the reality of how we’ve been playing this season and realise that this level of the Europa League is the exact level that we’ve been performing at this season I.e. a level below the Champions League teams.

We’re not in this competition as a team that’s a cut above most of the other big names in it. It’s not like we’re an under-13s team playing in an under-11s competition. We are probably equally matched to a lot of the other big boys.

And without our star striker able to play in the competition life is a little harder for us.

The hope is that the next round can be kind to us assuming an almighty cock up doesn’t happen this Thursday evening. We need to have a kind next round before we then face the quarter final and if so I just hope the team has built some sort of momentum along the way.

By then we might also have our domestic season being laid out for us and it will be a tough one for a manager like Arsène who has always prioritised the top four run ahead of anything else at times, or so it’s felt. As each week passes by in the Premier League it feels like we’re getting left behind from the pack in front of us and given the next game in the league is Thursday next week away to City – a cruel way in which the fixtures have fallen indeed playing each other twice in a week – we could be staring down the barrel of the Premier League being an irrelevance very, very, soon.

Right, nowt else on so I’m offski; will catch you tomorrow old fruit.