I can already see tomorrow’s headlines. If our kids get beaten tonight in Greece (which, frankly, they should – Olympiakos are a very decent outfit who will surely progress from the group), the fact that we’re missing an entire team through injury, and resting the remainder for the weekend, will be entirely forgotten, and the youngsters will get panned. It is a sad reality.
Alternatively, they will be the future of world football if they win. Gotta love the black and white media world.
In all seriousness, the squad for tonight is an acceptance that with so many out, we cannot afford anyone else to pick up a niggle ahead of the Christmas period. And in answer to those who will criticise the decision to send such a young side out, that is the prerogative of qualifying early. I defy you to find a single fan who wants Wenger to risk any of the remaining legs ahead of a trip to Anfield at the weekend. Especially in the knowledge that Liverpool have nothing to play for either, and will treat their game in a similar way.
The involvement of the kids certainly adds interest to the game. What would have been a meaningless affair is now another chance to see the Carling Cup kids play on the big stage. And it is even more like a Carling Cup game than the real thing against City last week – the likes of Cruise and Bartley are set to start in defence in what is surely the most inexperienced side ever to play in the competition. In short, it should be fun.
Unless, of course, you’re Standard Liege, who will be fuming that their chance of progression is all but wiped away. They need us to beat Olympiakos to have any chance of going through, but you cannot look after anyone but yourself in these situations. Had they taken points off us, we’d need a result tonight and circumstances would be more in their favour. They didn’t.
I won’t be watching the match live, as it is our staff Christmas party tonight, so I’m taping the whole thing for when I get home. For those going over there, or watching it live, enjoy.