By Bulldog Drummond
23 September 2008 was one of the most famous days in the years of austerity. For it was the day that a team of youngsters was put out by Arsenal in the league cup, much to howls of derision from the rest of football.
We were told it was unfair on the youngsters to expose them to the hardened pros of not just a Championship side, but a Championship side that came third in their league that season. It showed Arsenal lacked any strength in depth.
Here is the team for that eventful evening
Hoyte, Djourou, Song (Lansbury 70), Gibbs
Randall, Ramsey, Merida (Coquelin 71)
Wilshere, Bendtner (Simpson 71), Vela.
Arsenal won 6-0, and just look at that team. Fabianski won the FA Cup with us and is now a PL goalkeeper with Swansea. Djourou played over 60 games for Switzerland and over 80 games for Arsenal. Song went on to play for Barcelona. Gibbs, of course is still fresh in the memory. Bendtner although an exasperation played 108 games for Arsenal. Vela is still knocking in the goals for Real Sociadad. 171 games and 53 goals at the last count.
And then those who are still with us: Ramsey, Coquelin and Wilshere.
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Now take a look around: how many clubs could put out a group of youngsters against a league team, win 6-0 and get good value out of so many of them? And indeed have three members of the first team squad still at the club nine years on.
Of course today it is different. Austerity is over, and although we will see some younger players we will also be using more members of our full 25 man first team squad. Yes we have suddenly lost a goal scorer, and a playmaker, but we have others; and I say this knowing perfectly well what our position is in the league.
Hector Bellerin and Sead Kolasinac will probably be replaced tonight, but we could have Reiss Nelson on one side and either Nacho Monreal or Ainsley Maitland-Niles on the other.
And I rather suspect that Alexis will have a reversal – instead of being a sub late on he might well play from the start and come off on 70 minutes, so he is ready to take his regular full place in the squad from Monday.
Elsewhere we might well see Per Mertersacker, Shkodran Mustafi, Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere. Plus even possibly another start for Giroud although I am guessing one of the younger players might get a go.
Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey might be expected to have a rest but they could be around either to bolster to bench of to stabilise a side that has a number of youngsters in it. Eddie Nketiah, Marcus McGuane, Joe Willock, Chuba Akpom and Josh Dasilva seem possibles, with one or two starting and the rest making up the bench. And I haven’t even mentioned Elneny, or Iwobi. Or Chambers. Or Reine Adelaide.
I’ll be fascinated to see if Ospina stays in goal; I suspect he will as with the Europa League games, to keep him ticking over. After all, our back up to Ospina (with our third choice man Martinez, now out on loan), is Macey who is young enough to play for the under 23s, so he’ll be getting regular games.
Put all these names together, swirl it all around, close my eyes and pick the numbers out of the hat, and we have got around a full squad, with enough to play on the beach as well.
So that would give us
Chambers, Mertersacker, Mustafi,
Reine Adelaide Nketiah Alexis
Beached perm seven from: Ramsey, Walcott, Monreal, Macey, Elneny, Marcus McGuane, Joe Willock, Chuba Akpom and Josh Dasilva.
I’ve put Xhaka in the team as a way of helping to protect Jack Wilshere from any industrial challenges, and I think we need Alexis up to full speed for next Monday, hence his run out. As I said, he won’t play the whole game, but could be good for 70 mins.
Of course I usually get it horribly wrong when it is a straight first team game so with a match like this, I’m probably way out. All contradictions welcome
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