After last nights first-half fireworks at Anfield, it’s time for Arsenal to continue the European show… On a Thursday night against CSKA Moscow.
It may not be on the same level as the all-English Champions League clash last night but until the 2nd leg, this is Arsenal’s most important game of the season.
After Chelsea’s loss on the weekend, their top four hopes are now dead and gone so I don’t know where Arsenal’s are.
That means their chances of salvaging something from this season rides on winning the Europa League and they could take a big step towards that tonight.
In the last international break, you may have seen Arsenal Insider’s collab article on who will be key for the rest of the season. My pick was Henrikh Mkhitaryan and it’s for game’s like these that are the reason.
With not many Arsenal players having experienced going far in Europe recently, he is one that has that experience. At Manchester United last year Mkhitaryan found himself in a very similar position and proved to be an influential player for the Red Devils on their way back to the Champions League, scoring six goals in their Europa League campaign including one in the final.
As well as having that experience fresh in his memory, he’s also faced tonight’s opponents recently. CSKA were in United’s Champions League group this year and not only did Mkhitaryan help them win but he also put a goal past the Russians.
With that in mind, he could be a key to our progression in the competition, especially when you see what he’s already achieved since his arrival in north London:
??@HenrikhMkh at Arsenal:
1️⃣1️⃣ Games ?
6️⃣ Assists ?️
2️⃣ Goals ⚽️
2️⃣ Player of the Month awards ?
1️⃣ Goal of the Month winner ? pic.twitter.com/73oyX4EdVt
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 4, 2018
Another key to this Europa League push is Alexandre Lacazette who has returned to fitness at just the right time.
After his impressive cameo on Sunday was capped with a goal he should be going into tonight’s game with his confidence high.
With Aubameyang cup-tied and Lacazette a more recognised option than Danny Welbeck it’s fair to expect him to start and like Mkhitaryan, he has proved to be efficient in the Europa League.
Last year playing for Lyon, who CSKA Moscow eliminated to meet us in today’s quarter-final, the striker netted six times, including a memorable strike against Roma.
Arsenal fans will hope that with these two players in the squad they’ll be able to bring the same fortunes this year but then again, we’ll have to wait and see if it’ll happen.
The visitors have won three games on the bounce, including a 3-2 victory at the home of Lyon, so they won’t be coming to The Emirates feeling scared.
Also, the only time the two sides have met in the 2006/07 season, CSKA Moscow came out on top over the two legs. So, for Arsenal’s sake they won’t be looking for history to repeat itself.