It’s back to the Europa League tomorrow night (26 November) and a chance for Arsenal to escape the unending misery of the Premier League with a trip to FK Molde.
There’s still plenty at stake, but it will be sweet relief indeed to see the Gunners play something approaching the sort of fluid, free-flowing football that has become like a distant memory for most of us.
That’s not to say that Molde will roll over for a tummy-tickling – they gave us cause enough to sweat at the Emirates not so long ago – but I do expect us to be able to impose our game, such as it is, in a way that we haven’t been able to in the league.
To that end, I would expect a sprinkling of our younger talents to be taking centre stage, with Emile Smith-Rowe, Miguel Azeez, and Folarin Balogun confirmed as having made the trip. I would expect Eddie Nketiah, Ainsley Maintland-Niles, Reiss Nelson, and Joe Willock to also have been aboard the plane so the makings of an exciting young squad are there.
I’m particularly keen to see Emile Smith-Rowe get some minutes and see what he has to offer a side that has become so constipated that we have gone beyond the reach of herbal remedies. Something stronger is required and, with the transfer window still some weeks away, it’s a chance for him to remind those in charge of his promise.
In Nelson, Willock, and Nketiah we have some willing young talents who could work well with Emile and, please god, make the sort of runs that will allow him to find space and expres himself.
The pot of gold waiting at the end of this rainbow is qualification for the next round of the competition. If we can wrap it up with two games to spare, it will mean more minutes for these youngsters so the rewards are obvious. We confidence as bruised as it is right now, we could well do without another slip-up.
You can hear my thoughts on the young Guns and on the prospect of a Nicolas Pepe hat-trick in my pre-match video below.