What were you doing Thursday 15 February?
Well whatever it was you should have been watching the Europa League.
And not just for Arsenal’s trip to the Arctic circle to face Ostersunds.
The last 32 of Europe’s second-tier tournament had all the excitement, goals and drama that you could want for a Thursday night.
But the most notable part was the list of Premier League rejects that lit up the Europa League with brilliant strikes.
Watching this lot does make you question whether Prem managers have a clue what they are doing.
Mario Balotelli is quietly resurrecting his career at Nice after his *eventful* stay in Manchester, a decent spell at Milan and a weird experiment at Liverpool.
The Italian maverick scored twice, one lovely right footed curler and another from the spot, as Nice were beaten 3-2 at home by Lokomotiv Moscow.
And who scored all three goals for the team named after a mode of transport I hear you ask?
None other than former Everton loanee Manuel Fernandes.
Michy Batshuayi, who was unceremoniously slung out to Borussia Dortmund on loan so Chelsea could sign Olivier Giroud, continued to show what Antonio Conte doesn’t rate with a brace of his own.
The first was an unstoppable rocket from the edge of the area and the second was a striker’s dream goal with a perfect turn in the box to lose his man before firing it into the bottom corner.
If Romelu Lukaku doesn’t turn it round at Man United, Batshuayi could realistically be Belgium’s starting striker at the World Cup and on this form he could star on the world stage.
I’ll add him to the list of Chelsea rejects that aren’t all that; Kevin De Bruyne, Mohamed Salah…
One of the biggest failures of the post-Fergie, pre-Mourinho period at United was Memphis Depay.
The tricky winger had all the skills and tattoos but the number seven shirt never fitted him at Old Trafford.
But he has been brilliant at Lyon.
The Dutchman capped a great display against Villarreal with a long range volley Paul Scholes would have been proud of.
The rest of the list of players shows that there is life after the Premier League and that if you don’t necessarily cut it at one of England’s big boys you aren’t a bad player.
Even Adnan Januzaj appears to have recovered from his David Moyes association.
Now at Real Sociedad, the Moyes link is strong, the 23-year-old whipped a free kick around the wall against Salzburg in a game where 11 players booked.
Andre Schurrle continues his rehabilitation at Dortmund, one time Middlesbrough winger Viktor Fischer got one for Copenhagen, Seydou Doumbia with his three appearances for Newcastle scored for Sporting, fellow Newcastle flop Florian Thauvin got Marseille’s third and as if that wasn’t enough ex-Swansea, Liverpool and Sunderland front man Fabio Borini netted in the 90th minute for AC Milan.
- Michy Batshuayi’s Borussia Dortmund debut couldn’t have been more eventful
- Roman Abramovich stopped Michy Batshuayi’s loan deal to Dortmund being permanent
- Arsenal ‘paid Michy Batshuayi loan fee’ to push through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang deal