It’s not just the team for Saturday we need to consider. How Arsenal will start to rotate.

By Tony Attwood

So off we go on our run of four consecutive home games starting this week with Swansea and then with a game against Ludogorets Razgrad on Wednesday.  And the associated need to finish top of the Champs League group to avoid the child molesters in the next round.

And the good news is that we have a full squad of 25 plus five youngsters and only five injuries.  Danny and Per are of course out long term.  Akpom is still out with a back injury but there are no details on his return, but Ramsey and Giroud are out but looking ready to return either for Ludo or next weekend.

Lucas Pérez is back from his injury and at last Jenkinson is back after his experiences with State Aid United.

So just for fun I created a little list to see how I would rotate between the first two of our four home matches.


Player Position DOB Swansea Ludo
Kieran Gibbs LB 26 Sep 1989 Substitute Playing
Aaron Ramsey Mid 26 Dec 1990 Injured Substitute
Theo Walcott Forward 16 Mar 1989 Playing Playing
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain Mid 15 Aug 1993 Substitute Playing
Danny Welbeck Forward 26 Nov 1990 Injured  Injured
Carl Jenkinson RB 8 Feb 1992 Not selected Substitute
Emiliano Martinez GK 2 Sep 1992 Not selected Substitute
Francis Coquelin DM 13 May 1991 Playing Substitute
Matt Macey GK 9 Sep 1994 Not selected Not selected
Mathieu Debuchy RB 28 Jul 1985 Not selected Not selected
Per Mertesacker CB 29 Sep 1984 Injured Injured
Gabriel CB 26 Nov 1990 Substitute Substitute
Laurent Koscielny CB 10 Sep 1985 Playing Playing
Alexis Sanchez Forward 19 Dec 1988 Substitute Playing
Mesut Özil Mid 15 Oct 1988  Playing Playing
Olivier Giroud Forward 30 Sep 1986  Injured Substitute
David Ospina GK 31 Aug 1988  Substitute Playing
Nacho Monreal LB 26 Feb 1986  Playing Playing
Santi Cazorla Mid 13 Dec 1984  Playing Playing
Yaya Sanogo Forward 27 Jan 1993  Not playing Not playing
Granit Xhaka CM 27 Sep 1992  Substitute Playing
Petr Cech GK 20 May 1982  Playing Not playing
Mohamed Elneny Mid 11 Jul 1992  Substitute Substitute
Shkodran Mustafi CB 17 Apr 1992  Playing Playing
Lucas Pérez Forward 10 Sep 1988  Playing Not playing

The following U21 players are included in our First Team Squad

Player Position DOB Swansea Ludo
Rob Holding CB 12 Sep 1995 Not playing Substitute
Alex Iwobi Forward/MF 3 May 1996 Playing Substitute
Hector Bellerin RB 19 Mar 1995 Playing Playing
Chuba Akpom Forward 9 Oct 1995 Injured Injured
Jeff Reine-Adelaide Forward 17 Jan 1998 Not playing Not playing

Of course these are rough and ready selections, but they are there to make the point that we have choices on the pitch and choices on the bench.

Now if we combine this little piece of thinking with the article on the range of tactical approaches (the article about 4-4-2, 4-3-3, and 4-2-3-1) it is clear just how much flexibility the manager is building into this squad.

Indeed you will notice that some of the players who played against Nottingham Forest in the league cup are not mentioned here at all, and will make up a major part of the team for the last of our four consecutive home games.

The team for the Forest game was

Martinez, Maitland-Niles, Holding, Gabriel, Gibbs, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Reine Adelaide, Xhaka, Akpom, Elneny, Lucas

The subs who came on were Willock, Zelalem, and Bielik.

Akpom is now injured, but leaving him aside there are still six players there who are not going to be playing in other games.  Mix in five other players who are only getting occasional matches, and we also have a very strong league cup squad.

Despite the usual ravings about injuries, we are neatly placed half way down the injury league (the top team in the league, Sunderland having twice as many injuries as we have).  Plus we have a full compliment of 25 players in the 25 list (a rarity as we showed the other day), and five rather clever under 21s in the squad.

Which means that even with injuries, the league cup game is going to be a welcome change for some of the squad to get another game under their belt.  No more having to throw on first team players because of injuries.

This turn around in numbers has come about not because we went out and bought player after player after player, but rather because we have that mix of our own players (the second list above) and those brought in on big money.

This is why the stories about “we were the only team not to buy an outfield player in the transfer window” 14 months ago were so stupid.  If we bought any more players aged over 21 we would have to be forcing players out of the 25 list.   And although Sanogo remains a mystery to us all, I am not sure who else we should be saying is not good enough.  Remembering of course that players who are not going to get every game need to be young enough to realise this is part of their growing up process.

And I haven’t really taken account of one of the youngsters not listed in the under 21s set making a breakthrough as Bellerin, Coquelin and Iwobi have each done.

There is a further point to all this – when players come back from injury they are not going to be rushed back into the squad.  We can afford to take our time.

So, what we have, in my estimation is

a) Flexible playing systems that can be changed from game to game

b) Enough players to be able to select players for games

c) Enough players to remove the temptation of rushing players back after injury – hence fewer injuries.

Four home games in a row.  Even though I will miss the league cup match, I am rather pleased about seeing the rest of them.

Recent stories from Untold Arsenal and the Arsenal History Society

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17 Replies to “It’s not just the team for Saturday we need to consider. How Arsenal will start to rotate.”

  1. Carl Jenkinson is set to start for the U23s this evening and, assuming he comes through that match unscathed) should certainly be able to make the bench for Ludogorets on Wed and Middlesbrough next weekend. I would expect him to start against Reading.

  2. Carl has been a person willing to kick the ball from distance (cross or shot). I think it would be nice for Carl to get a goal on a long range effort in this game with the U23. That would increase the number of players and positions from which long range shots are possible, making it harder for opposing managers to plan for us.

  3. I think Le Prof has already put together a formidable Arsenal 2nd team on ground to be playing against lower opposition teams in the League Cup games like the one we are going to have against Reading who are our next opponent team in this competition next upper week. And that 2nd Arsenal team that may need 1 or 2 injection of other Gunners like, Olivier Giroud or Yaya Sanogo to be brought-in in place of the injured Akpom is more than capable of knocking out Reading at the Ems after we’ve dealt a blow to Swansea, Ludogorets and Middleborough..

    Therefore, there should be no fears of fatigue that could be suffered by any senior Gunner ahead of the Middlesbrough game at the Ems since they won’t be involved in the Reading ELC game that could warrant any rotation of senior Gunners in the next Arsenal 2 PL & 1 Ucl games in my own view.

    The usual Le Prof’s senior Gunners selection of 18 man match day squad should be more than capable of beating Swansea, Ludogorets and Middleborough all within 8 days at the Ems without doing any senior Gunners rotation in place of the regular starting Gunners who have been on a winning run of 5 PL games.

  4. Andy, Le Prof decides. But if Carl starts against Reading, what will happen to the young Maitland Niles development who Le prof has suddenly appeared to be developing as a future right back for Arsenal if he didn’t start him for the Reading game? Tough competition for a starting spot at Arsenal RB position in the offing?

  5. Good work Tony! It’s great seeing the depth of this year’s squad!

    The only suggestion is that I think Ramsey will still be out. The Boss said that next week will “come too early” for Ramsey and that he is going through a full preseason so I would expect him to be out for Middlebrough also, so maybe a return during the Reading match.

    I am glad to see the Gooner Jenkinson back!

  6. I do not think rotation is needed for the sake of it, but it is necessary to keep our players fit and ready and playing as many games as possible, and happy!

    I just want to see all the players used to their full capacity to benefit the team.

  7. At WorldFootball, I see an article about Liverpool complaining about how difficult their holiday schedule is.

    My interpretation of their holiday schedule is:
    Liverpool _ _ WHam
    Middlesbrough Liverpool
    Everton _ _ _ Liverpool
    Liverpool _ _ Stoke
    Liverpool _ _ ManC
    Sunderland _ _Liverpool
    ManU _ _ _ _ _Liverpool

    I will compare that to ours:
    Arsenal _ _ _ Stoke
    Everton _ _ _ Arsenal
    ManC _ _ _ _ _Arsenal
    Arsenal _ _ _ WBA
    Arsenal _ _ _ CPalace
    Bournemouth _ Arsenal
    Swansea _ _ _ Arsenal

    It is just horrible how badly Liverpool is being treated here. Liverpool has to play 4 away games compared to us playing 4 games away. Liverpool has to play 2 games against typically Top-6 teams (ManU and ManC), whereas we have it really easy and only have to play ManC. I am not really familiar with English geography, but it looks to me that of their 7 games, 6 are games against northern (local) teams and 1 from a London team. All of their away games are local. Arsenal play 2 local teams, whereas 4 of our away games are a considerable distance (Manchester twice, Sunderland and Wales).

    It is obvious in just looking at the above, that Liverpool has to be the most poorly treated team in the EPL over the holiday season.

  8. Gord,
    With best will in the world, Sunderland and Middlesbrough cannot be called local Liverpool.

  9. Using the never wrong internet I find that Liverpool to Sunderland by car is the same distance as London to Stoke.

  10. However the combined distance Arsenal fans will need to travel over the period is indeed considerably in excess of that Liverpool fans willl need to do.
    This of course is mitigated in that by and large Arsenal fans don’t have to return to Liverpool……

  11. Poetic license? I would expect that somebody from Liverpool or Manchester would much rather go to a football game at Sunderland, than to travel an equivalent distance towards London.

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