Marching on in Europe
It wasn't quite as comfortable as Bordeaux, but it was straight-forward enough in the end. The game was decided by a fine, fine goal from Obertan (fresh from filming the latest Argos ad) and some tremendous build up play from Ameobi Jnr.
Obertan is really shining in this competition. He has put in some very good displays and has often looked our most dangerous player. His finish shows that he knows where the back of the net is, and was almost a replica of his goal against Blackburn last season. It's my belief that all that Gabby needed was a bit of coaching and nurturing, and perhaps it is paying off. If he can keep showing these glimpses then his time will come in the league.
The young lads deserve a mention too. That said, Obertan is only 23 - you could argue he is still in his development period given how few games he's played since coming to England. Ferguson looks lively on the left and can ping a cross in. How we'd yearn for a return of the Gillespie/Ginola year with Ferguson on the left and Hatem on the right. Bigirimana again showed ability beyond his years with some sublime passing and tough tackling. He's a real star in the making, and surely a matter of time before England under 21s come calling. Or Burundi. Sammy was a pleasure to watch with some sublime bits of trickery and skill. I'm not sure how well they would work against a top, top side but he has them in his locker. If he can learn when to release the ball, I would have very high hopes for him. That's probably something that will come with time.
I think the average age of the line up last night was something like 23-24 not including Harper (with our 'keeper, it was around 72) so there is much to be excited about. If we can continue to develop these young lads on a competitive stage like the Europa league alongside seasoned veterans like Coloccini, Cabaye, Cisse and Ba - then there is much to look forward to.