Happy Thursday folks. Hope you’re all recovered from the emosh of Tuesday night’s Champions League encounter?

One thing that I didn’t touch on yesterday when I was still pretty raging, was how the tie is so finely balanced, so I thought I’d jot down some initial thoughts on that now. I do think the impact of scrapping the away goals rule has had a significant impact on the quality of the actual football matches that are played in these big game cup knockout ties. I grew up in the 90s with the European games where they used to even automatically add on the away goal when you’d watch the European games on ITV. My mind might be a little faded and fuzzy, but I swear I can remember when we played Benfica in 1992 that after the first leg in 1991 the score on the top left hand of the screen said 1-2 to The Arsenal, even though the game was actually only 1-1. Or it might have been that they had the score as 1-1 and then in brackets next to it (1-2) to denote the away goals. And when you think about it that logic is just utterly stupid. Goals are the hardest thing to do in football, so saying that because you’re away from home your goal counts double is just mental.

Now, with the scrapping of it – something I think Wenger advocated about 15 years ago – it means that there is no incentive for away teams to get a goal and shut up shop. Or it means that home teams don’t play cagey because they don’t want to have that away goal counted against them. It encourages both teams to have a proper go and it leaves more open space; just look at this set of quarter finals in which we’ve had a 2-2, a 3-3, a 2-3 and a 2-1. 18 goals in four games and if you’re a spectator then it makes it an infinitely more compelling watch. It’s bloody painful and joyous if you’re a fan of any of the teams in the competition, but if you ask me whether I’d have preferred a 0-0 or a 2-2 from Tuesday night, with the jeopardy of away goals removed, I’m picking the 2-2 all day long. Because in getting our goals it has given me hope that this Bayern team can be got at. It gives me hope for the second leg that we will create chances and I also have hope that we’ve removed all of the brain farts out of the system when we go there next Wednesday.

But Wednesday is six days away and before that there is the small matter of the Premier League and Champions League chasing Aston Villa who will be rocking up on Sunday. We won’t get any Arteta thoughts from his press conference until tomorrow I don’t think, so today’s eyes from an Arsenal fan perspective will be on what Emery does this evening as his side takes on Lille at home in the Europa League tonight. Lille are apparently in good form in the French League and I read somewhere that they haven’t lost in their last seven matches, so I don’t think Emery will be thinking about rotating too much in this first leg. So my hope is that he goes full strength for them this evening and they have a tough one. We need them to be feeling the burn for when we play them and I guess in some respect us playing two days prior will hopefully have a positive impact for us in terms of fatigue for the Villains. There will be some of you wondering why the heck I am hoping for Villa to have issues and that perhaps that is a sign of desperation, but at this stage of the season I will take any marginal gains and if they have a tough time tonight and are forced to play their best XI for the 90 whilst our players are tucked up at home with their feet up, then that’s a-ok with me.

The questions over who will play for us at the weekend won’t be fully answered until Sunday we know, and Arteta won’t reveal too much tomorrow, but the fact that news emerged yesterday of Gabriel Jesus saying he might need surgery in the summer ain’t great to hear, that’s for sure. I think most of us have guessed that Arsenal have been managing his fitness and I think we’re all glad that Havertz is in such fine form, but if he can only play an hour or getting on as a sub here and there for 20 minutes, that doesn’t bode well for our chances for the rest of the season. Arsenal are clearly patching him up and it feels a little more unstandable as to why Arteta is keeping Eddie ticking along with minutes too; if Gabriel breaks down then it’s Havertz or Eddie and although Kai has been great and is clearly number one choice right now, I’m not sure we get over the line without Gabriel Jesus impacting games. Just look at how he impacted the game for us on Tuesday; his close control and jinking inside the box to set up Trossard for the equaliser was immense. A player like Gabriel Jesus on top form is essential if you want the shiny silver trinkets at the end of the season but right now that doesn’t feel too likely. Which is a real shame.

There’s Trossard who has also been bagging some goals in the last few weeks and that’s also a good option, but Arsenal and Arteta need to have a think about how and when Jesus is going to be used, because when a player is admitting he needs surgery, you know it must be pretty bad.

We just need the team to keep it together and keep delivering. There were mistakes on Tuesday but they bounced back, which says to me that there is a unity in this team and a togetherness that is helping them drive forward. Whether it is enough to see us win any silverware remains to be seen, but despite kinuries to players like Jesus, other players are still stepping up. Long may that contimue.

Catch you all tomorrow for some more thoughts.