Our Europa League campaign begins in earnest as we travel to Frankfurt, Germany to take on the tricky Eintracht Frankfurt.
It couldn’t come too soon as well, as it gives us the chance to rid ourselves of the awful taste left in our mouths after the insipid showing against Watford in our last game.
There can only be one way to go from our display, especially defensively, but Eintracht Frankfurt aren’t exactly going to be as accommodating as we were against the Hornets.
Yes, Frankfurt have lost some of the men who made them such a fantastically entertaining side last season. They too enjoyed a decent run in the Europa League last season and were prolific in front of goal, and we will need to overcome the crippling stage fright we showed in the weekend.
Now of course it wasn’t stage fright that rendered us like rabbits caught in headlights, but captain Granit Xhaka’s comments regarding our team seemingly being scared to fight their way back into the game was eerily correct. There was no push to reverse the pattern that saw us self destruct. No one put their foot on the ball and made something happen.
That can’t be allowed to happen again, as we might as well write the season off if it does.
The Europa League is a bona fide campaign target for our club this season, so let’s start off on the right foot.
Who can reverse our fortunes, and who is sitting on the bench?
Sokratis and Mesut Ozil were left out of the squad that travelled to Frankfurt, so there will be change from the team that drew with Watford.
Rob Holding is part of that squad and could be in line for some minutes, especially with Sokratis out of the squad. It could also mean a first start since the opening day for Calum Chambers, with Mustafi and David Luiz the only other recognised centre-backs.
Kieran Tierney and Hector Bellerin are still out but well on the road to recovery, but we could well see Nicolas Pepe start up top, with a welcome rest for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, although when a striker is in a red hot streak of form, the best thing to do is play them until it dries up.
There are other options too, with Gabriel Martinelli, Jo Willock, Bukayo Saka and Reiss Nelson, as well as the exciting talent of Emile Smith-Rowe are all in line to grab some development time.
Emery has some decisions to make.
Player to Watch
Frankfurt have the likes of Jonathan De Guzman, Gelson Fernandes, Martin Hinteregger, Kevin Trapp and Erik Durm, so they are pretty blessed across the pitch, but Bas Dost is hot property. The man is clinical and his goal ratio is pretty impressive. 23 goals from 35 games last season screams of danger for us, especially with us being so slack at the back. If chances arrive in the box, he will sniff them out. Aerially he’s strong too, so perhaps we need to cut off the supply from out wide.
How this game could go
This is the toughest game in our group. Easily. Frankfurt haven’t lost a home game in European competition since 2007, a run of 16 games.
Frankfurt lost Sebastian Haller, Luka Jovic and Ante Rebic this summer, which accounted for more than half of their goals last season, but they possess the same style and prowess they did last season that saw them almost make it to the Europa League final.
How do we combat that? We start from the back.
We need either Torreira or Guendouzi to actually sit in front of the back four instead of roving forward. We need our back four or five to press and go to their man, rather than afford space. We need our team to want it.
With our attack, we have what it takes. We just need the rest of the team to act accordingly.
Martinez, Maitland-Niles, Chambers, Holding, Kolasinac, Guendouzi, Torreira, Xhaka, Nelson, Martinelli, Pepe
Predicted Scoreline – 2-2