Somewhat surprisingly, Unai Emery changed his formation for last night’s 3-0 win over Qarabag in the Europa League, going with three at the back.
And not for the first time, the Arsenal boss decided to make a half-time change to try and change the course of the game, this time bringing on Lucas Torreira for Nacho Monreal and reverting to a back four.
Initially it was suggested that the Spanish international was injured, but afterwards Emery explained his thinking and said the substitution was made because he wanted more control in the centre of the park.
“No, first I changed Monreal because we wanted to play with a back four in the second half,” he said.
“Also, we needed to put one midfielder more on the pitch. I think we suffered in the match. But I want to suffer.
“I want to not find easy matches, like today. Then, in our moments, to show you and show them our possibilities, our quality and our organised moments.
“I think in the 90 minutes today, the team worked very well.”
And the Spaniard wasn’t surprised that Qarabag proved testing opposition for the Gunners, who had Bernd Leno to thank for a string of impressive saves.
“When I saw different matches in their domestic competition and in Europe against Sheriff and Sporting Lisbon, for us their best performance was against Sporting Lisbon with a good match,” he said.
“Our respect is thinking here, for example, Atletico Madrid didn’t win. They played very well in the Champions League.
“That’s the reason, today also, we analysed and worked with the respect against them.
“On the pitch we were thinking that we need also to take the best performance to win today.”
It’s six points from six in the Europa League thus far, and early qualification would give Emery the chance to rest players for important Premier League games around the time of our final two European fixtures.