I didn’t watch any Champions League football last night, but I have seen the gifts that Liverpool were so generously offered by RB Leipzig last night, as well as the borderline free handout that the referee tried to leg up on Barcelona in their game against PSG. Honestly, when you see that given as a penalty, then reviewed and STILL given as a penalty, you have to start asking some questions about the decisions teams like Barcelona get in every competition. More sickening from an Arsenal perspective, is that these useless referees still didn’t send off the PSG player for what they believed to be a ‘trip’, showing that even European incompetence is overshadowed by the absolute chancers that happened to fall into refereeing jobs in this country.
Still, it is a competition that is a bit of an irrelevance to us Arsenal fans, but the fact that PSG tore Barca a new Mbappe is a-ok with me. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer team.
As for us, there’s not really much going on as the team prepare for our away trip to Rome to face Portuguese side Benfica in the Europa League. Arteta will no doubt run a press conference today and it’ll be interesting to see what he says about how we might play and who might play tomorrow. I’m looking for hints that there will be some of the rotated players from Sunday coming in and who might be taken out as a result. I don’t think we’ll hear Arteta speak about individuals, but we just need to listen out for who he ‘bigs up’ in his presser. Of course that could be dictated by journalists asking specific questions about specific players, but you can usually get some hints as to whether they are a decent shout to start from what the manager is saying.
For example, if he’s asked about Pepe and talks up his form and why he didn’t play at the weekend, I suspect he will probably start. If he brushes it aside as the classic “it is a squad game and we need to use all of our squad” then I think we know there might be a question mark over his inclusion.
I hope he’s also asked about the farce that is two away legs for both teams. It really is comical that UEFA have decided this is what has to happen. Firstly that we have to travel from one side of Europe to the other for both of our legs, as do Benfica, which will have an impact on recovery time and therefore disadvantage us for other games in other competitions. UEFA’s argument is about the integrity of the competition and that is why you are having it over two legs. I’m sorry but that is just wrong, because the integrity is already compromised as a result of playing two away games because you are now disadvantaging both Arsenal AND Benfica by playing it this way. So every other team in the competition now has an advantage that Arsenal and Benfica don’t.
That’s the other side of the argument for playing in a neutral ground for just one leg. The argument is that it disadvantages other teams in the competition. What a load of b*llocks. As I mention above, what you are doing is now the complete opposite and disadvantaging Arsenal. When Leicester play their second leg on the Thursday – at home – they will finish up and head home and be tucked up in bed by 12. It probably means they can get some light training in for the afternoon, or even be ready for Saturday’s training. The Arsenal players will finish up, warm down, board a plane for three hours, probably get back about 11, then be back for 2am, in bed by 3 – 4am. It means you write off the next day completely and the team has less time to recover. They also have to travel up to Leicester for that weekend. In a sport where marginal gains is a genuine thing, how is that justified and logical?
It isn’t and it really grinds my gears. In stating that they want to preserve the integrity of the competition, UEFA have effectively destroyed it for these two teams playing in it tomorrow night. And what makes it worse? Real Sociedad play in Turin for their home game, yet Man United play at Old Trafford for theirs! How does that preserve the integrity of the competition, when one team has to travel away twice and one team doesn’t?
It is a farce and is just another example of why I just want this horrible festering turd of a season over. I haven’t even mentioned the away goals rule still standing. What for?? Both teams are away the whole time!
Sorry for the rant; think I must have woken up on the wrong side of the bed this morning, so perhaps I’ll finish on some good news, eh? That news comes in the shape of Kieran Tierney, who appears to be back in full training. Great to hear. Personally I’d still be going for Cedric in the game tomorrow, perhaps with a view to giving him 5 – 10 minutes at the end of tomorrow evening’s game just in case, but we’ll see what Arteta says about the Scot when he takes to the mic stand later today.
Catch all of you wonderful human beings tomorrow.