By Tony Attwood
Just before we get down to the ins and outs of the team for today, I thought it might be interesting just to look at the two teams that started in Singapore.
Here’s the first team
Debuchy Gabriel Mertersacker Monreal
Oxlade Chamberlain Akpom Iowbi
and the second
Bellerin Koscielny Chambers Gibbs
Ramsey Ozil Cazorla
Walcott Giroud Wilshere
The only player starting twice was Jack Wilshere – in the second game he was playing as a forward.
The subs who didn’t get a start in the game were
Arteta, Zelalem, Crowley, Toral, Willock.
Missing for different reasons: Alexis, Ospina, Welbeck.
There were also a few young players whose names we have become used to: Hayden, Bielik, Gnabry, who are considered first teamers. Then there are Maitland-Niles and Jenkinson who will be on loan. Plus the recent signings of Jeff Reine-Adelaide and Yassin Fortune.
It is starting to be quite a heady mix.
Now if you start to look at this you will see that we pretty much have two complete teams available of players already tried and tested. You might argue that Iwobi who is included is not ready for first team action, but otherwise there are two teams there: 21 players. Add in Arteta, Alexis, Ospina and Welbeck and you have 25 players.
And that is before you consider whether any of the youngsters will step up as Bellerin and Coquelin did. Choose from Zelalem, Crowley, Toral, Willock, and of course Iwobi.
But that is not all. A fair number of the already established players can play in two positions.
- Alexis: centre forward or wing.
- Chambers: full back, defensive midfield, central defence
- Debuchy: full back or central defence
- Monreal: full back or central defence
- Oxlade Chamberlain: defensive midfield or wing
- Ramsey: central midfield or wide
- Santi Cazorla: central midfield, out wide, or playmaker next to Coquelin
- Walcott: centre forward or wing
- Welbeck: centre forward or wing
- Wilshere: seemingly anywhere in midfield, or even as a winger
I am not saying you could mix all this lot up and make a team, but rather that if the slight reform in refereeing attitudes that we saw in the second half of last season is not permanent, and the players start getting hacked to bits again by an opposition knowing they are free to do anything they wish, we are better prepared than ever to take on the challenge. We have a much deeper squad.
We have, in fact, two complete teams, and a number of players who can swap positions, which is very different from the early days of the Emirates Cup, for example, when one of the two games was basically a youth and reserve side.
To be clear, I am not suggesting you would want to move players out of their best position for the fun of it, but I am saying that if the injuries mount up as they have done in the past we are going to be much better placed than before to deal with them. If the injuries are kept to a minimum as they were in the second half of last season, we have plenty of options if anyone loses form.
Now I have often argued that bringing in more and more players is not always the best option because top players demand to be played every game when fit, and younger talented players need to get some match time and see the chance of stepping up. Only goalkeepers will stay on the bench all season.
But there is more. If we replaced Coquelin now, for example, then the signal would be clear to young players – you might dream of stepping up but as soon as we can we’ll replace you.
So we will quite probably see two utterly different teams over the two days of the Emirates Cup. And that can only be a very good thing indeed.
Up next – the match preview.
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