Arsenal are already making plans for their Europa League campaign. This is their first season out of the Champions League since 1997-8. The Telegraph report that he is planning significant rotation for this week’s match against Cologne, but they do want to take the competition seriously. Arsene Wenger has discussed the importance of balancing it correctly with the Premier League.
“We will take it seriously but the priority is to focus on the Premier League and combining the two. Then, in December, we will see, but at least we want to qualify for the next round. Thursday to Sunday morning is short so I have to think about that. But we have to win at home and you know how it is when you don’t win at home.”
It is becoming increasingly difficult to finish in the top four and it could be that the Europa League offers the best avenue to the Champions League. Manchester United targeted it last season and Arsenal may choose a similar strategy if they remain in the competition after the group stages. They will start as one of the favourites and even with a rotated team, they should qualify for the next round.
One player that will be looking at the Europa League as an opportunity to get back into the first-team is Jack Wilshere. He remains at the club after an underwhelming loan spell at Bournemouth, but he has yet to feature. The Mail report that he has been passed fit and could make his first Arsenal appearance in 13 months. Alexis Sanchez, Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott are all expected to feature.
The benefit of the Europa League is that it will provide opportunities to squad players and a few could play their way into Arsene Wenger’s first-team. Wilshere’s Arsenal career looks to be coming to an end, but he will be keen to prove his worth in this competition. He has always had a lot of potential and he is running out of time to fulfil it.
Alexis Sanchez was booed after coming on against Bournemouth, but Petr Cech believes that his team-mate will win over the disgruntled supporters. The Evening Standard report the following quotes from the goal-scorer:
“I spoke with Alexis and he wants to win. Sometimes people say ‘he does this, he does that’ but I think in a way, he is a guy who plays with all his passion and all his heart. You could see he knew he came late and the manager opted not to risk and put him on the bench.”
The players have welcomed Sanchez back and it is clear from Cech’s comments that the Chilean will give his all for the team while he remains at the club. Although the supporters are within their rights to boo the player, football fans are fickle and they will be the first to celebrate his next goal for the club.