Tomorrow sees Arsenal head to Belgium for the last Europa League group stage matchday. The math is simple: beat Standard Liège, win the group. Arsenal are through to the second round almost no matter what. A draw tomorrow wouldn’t be fatal, and even a loss would only put Arsenal out of the competition if it were by more than five goals, so this is about as low pressure of a pressurized situation as Arsenal could find.
In short, this is as good of an environment as any for Arsenal to build on the confidence they started to establish on Monday. They’ll want to get off to a better start than they did in the first half at West Ham, but if Arsenal can string passes together tomorrow as well as they did in the second half, they won’t have much to worry about, catastrophe-wise.
The club comes into this game pretty banged up - Granit Xhaka has a concussion, Kieran Tierney a shoulder problem, and Hector Bellerin is still recovering from the hamstring problem he picked up in the warm-up prior to the West Ham game. Freddie Ljungberg will thus have some heavy rotation to do, and we’ll probably see more youth than we would normally expect in a game like this.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though - as I mentioned, this is a pretty low-stress group stage concluder, so it’s a good place for the youngins to prove themselves worthy of more regular first team appearances.
Here’s to hoping they, and the club, take this opportunity, seal first place in the group, and keep the good feelings going in advance of a very stern test this weekend.
Arsenal at Standard Liege
Europa League group stage, matchday six
Thursday, December 13, 2019
9.55AM PT/12.55PM ET/5.55PM BT/6.55PM CET
Stade Maurice Dufrasne