It’s time for a rescue mission.
Our first leg of this Last 16 Europa League tie in Belarus was perhaps one of our worst European performances in the last two decades.
A toothless, profligate display saw us slump away from the Eastern European country with our tails between our legs and a 1-0 deficit.
The opponent, BATE Borisov, had earned a solitary win against an English side in their entire history, hadn’t played a competitive fixture in two months - and celebrated defeating us with a trip to their local Burger King.
Ignominious the result may be, we still have it all to play for in this second leg. This opportunity may be more than we deserve, but regardless, we must snatch it with both hands. The Europa League still represents our only chance of silverware, and our squad must know that they have to step it up massively if they are to not only have a chance of lifting the trophy - but squeezing past BATE.
We should have more than enough to do this, but Unai Emery needs to make the right call - who can he call upon?
Danny Welbeck and Hector Bellerin may be on the road to recovery judging by their latest instagram photos, but their prognosis on playing is still bleak for the season.
Sokratis should be available, and aside from the above and Rob Holding, we have a fully fit squad, Lacazette’s suspension aside. This doesn’t clear up any possible lineups though. Will Mesut Ozil be given the nod to play? Will Emery go for broke and play both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Aaron Ramsey?
Our attack may well be our strongest suit, so both star strikers could make the lineup, but in terms of who will assist them, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alex iwobi will most likely start. Midfield needs to be strong, but Lucas Torreira could be on the bench with a vital Premier League clash with Southampton on the near horizon, giving Matteo Guendouzi and Granit Xhaka the start.
Player to Watch
Alex Hleb may be on the verge of retirement, but the former Gunner kept his side in the hunt in the initial stages of the first leg with his efficient use of possession and his experience. When the time came to make the move for BATE, Hleb was intrinsically linked to most of their moves.
It’s clear - keep Hleb quiet and starved - then we can concentrate on attack.
How the game will go
We need a goal, first and foremost. Much will depend on BATE’s approach. They know that they could sit back, ten men on the outskirts of their own box, and invite us to wave forward.
Or they could play on the counter, hit us while we are streaming forward.
Either way, we need to keep our heads. an early goal will settle us and most likely give us the impetus we need.
Almost as likely is that BATE will frustrate us and time ticks on with us getting more anxious.
Normally, we would have this tie locked down and BATE wouldn’t have had a shout, but the first leg showed that our opponent can’t be ruled out.
We scored ten goals against them last season in just two games - we have this in our sights.
Stick to our gameplan and we should be home and hosed quite comfortably.
Still, you can help worrying, can you?
Predicted lineup - Cech, Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Guendouzi, Iwobi, Ozil, Ramsey, Aubameyang
Predicted Scoreline - 3-0 to The Arsenal