Over the last 5 days I’ve seen us play both our best and worst football of the season. But it’s hard to collect my thoughts this morning following last nights Europa League defeat. On penalties to boot. Of all of my talk of Agony and Ecstasy, this morning its definitely the former. Pain.
For a club of our immense stature, we have a real issue with European competitions. Aside from our two honours in 1970 and 1994 respectively, our campaigns have a familiar trait (including that night in 2006). We try hard but always fall short. Last night we were guilty of not paying the competition and the opposition enough respect and at this level you simply cannot do that. We were uncharacteristically sloppy, we turned the ball over far too easily and in the end we were punished.
If you could have asked an Arsenal fan what the worst possible outcome was last night it would have been an intense 120 minutes of football, with multiple injuries and to lose on pens. And that’s exactly what happened. Saliba hobbled off after just 20 minutes and we can only hope that it was precautionary move. Tomiyasu on the other hand wasn’t encouraging, he looked to be in some pain as he went off. I also have it on good authority that he left the ground on crutches. We can only wish him a speedy recovery.
With Partey and Odegaard came on, bringing us to nearly full strength, we looked instantly better and had a bit more control of the game. But in the end the Sporting keeper pulled off a string of very impressive saves, Trossard hit the post when he probably should have done better and it just felt like it wasn’t to be our night. We even lost the coin toss to decide at what end the penalties would be taken. Sporting had clearly practised penalties before the fixture and they dispatched all five of theirs despite Ramsdale’s best efforts. All in all a bad night at The Emirates.
But there’s no time to feel sorry for ourselves. We need to pick ourselves up, learn from last night and take that into a crucial game against (now managerless) Crystal Palace this weekend. I’ll see you all on Sunday.