By Bulldog Drummond
Trying to get the teams right is tough enough at the best of times, and Blacksheep (whose phone always seems to get the teams before anyone else in the pub before the match) does take special delight in the way that the Untold team predictor service is somewhat less viable as a source of information than the Untold research team.
But that’s nothing compared to today: trying to guess whose playing in the first of the two Emirates Cup matches for Arsenal really is a bit of a mug’s game. What we can say from previous events is that
a) it is unlikely that anyone who played against Borehamwood will be included. (And it has been a trifle amusing to read the bloggettas predictions made without know that the Borehamwood match took place, and that’s before noting how important it was in terms of revealing Arsenal’s decision making for the PL2 and Ladies’ teams.)
b) it is utterly certain no one will start both the Saturday and Sunday games
c) generally we get a more junior side in the first match and more senior side in the second.
Beyond that we know that 3-4-3 now appears to be the order of the day although there will still be some four at the back games played in training, in case a swap back is needed for tactical or injury reasons.
Thursday’s team was
Debuchy, Bielik, Pleguzuelo
Nketiah Akpom Mavididi
They surely won’t play today and the most any of them can hope for is inclusion as a sub on Sunday. It was good to see Le Jeff back from injury and let’s hope he builds up to his previous level. I thought Bielik might be included in the Ems Cup but maybe giving him a game at the centre of defence was an important experiment to see just how far he has come.
Macey is interesting in that he is now over 21 and so will be counted in the 25 if he stays. But if a younger keeper were to be brought in as our fourth choice, surely he would have played in that game. It could mean that we really are going to have a full reserve side playing in the Europa with Macey as the second choice keeper for those games.
Leaving aside Gibbs who is rumoured to be training alone (the reason suggested being that he refused a perfectly good offer of a transfer – but that is just a rumour) that leaves for the next two days.
Across the two days we need six of them, and we have six in the list – with the optional extra of Reiss Nelson. And except that Mesut Ozil is a forward if our midfield is primarily Xhaka and Ramsey. Now we have too many players again. Idiotic Arsenal have too many players shock horror!
Pulling all this together I think we can see more or less two complete teams, with neither being a team of youngsters and reserves who look ready to come in and play in the first XI when needed. Which suggests we have quite a good squad all round to compete in all four competitions.
There are so many possible combinations that anything I write for the team is going to look pretty silly come this afternoon and I could, for the first time, get all XI wrong in the team. But I suspect that Giroud will play centre forward in one game Lacazette in the other, and that Donyell Malen might have to put up with being a sub in order to give Reiss Nelson a game as one of the three front men.
If anyone would like to put a full team together (before it is announced) please do have a go.
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- The Purchase Index: All this summer’s player buying by the top 10 clubs of last season
- The Loan Index: The top clubs compared in terms of players loaned out
- How the media always knocks Arsenal, but ignores England’s failures.
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- The seven main things that are wrong with football in England
- 2022-23 WSL Arsenal v Spurs – Match Preview – part 2 comments from the manager and team news
- 2022-23 WSL Arsenal v Spurs – Match Preview – part 1 the head to head record and comments on Spurs summer signings