By Bulldog Drummond
In a sense I rather relish the notion of all attention being turned away from Arsenal, with the focus being on the goings on at Wigan, Sergio Agüero considering pressing charges (although I am not quite sure against whom that might be) and West Ham being charged over breaches of anti-doping rules. It’s quite amazing what these teams with their stadia paid for by us mugs who pay our tax in the UK, think they can get away with. A bunch of hearty roughs and no mistake.
Of course the press is sniffing around Arsenal looking for some sort of story to take the spotlight off Manchester City, but the best the Telegraph could do with come up with a headline report that Cech expects Ospina to play in the final on Sunday. Shock horror.
Elsewhere I liked the headline “Arsenal will be looking to flex their depth in the second leg against Ostersunds FK, which will mean more Ainsley Maitland-Niles. Show up, young man!” It has a nice feel of the 1930s about it. Although I am not too sure about the phrase “Looking to flex their depth”. Is that physically possible.
Anyway, the ploy of playing the first team (as far as possible) in the first leg against Ostersunds FK means that we don’t have to get too involved with the first team again on Thursday, leaving them free and fresh for Sunday.
What this all means in detail is that Ainsley Maitland Niles might well get a second chance to play in the centre of midfield – that most coveted of spots. Certainly at the end of last season Mr Wenger said he expected Ainsley to play with the first team this season – but for him to be getting a chance in the centre of midfield – that is quite something.
How do we fit Ramsey, Ainsley and Jack all in the same team? I actually have no idea.
I presume also that Mesut Ozil, Shkodran Mustafi, and Nacho Monreal will be given a break, along with anyone else who can be spared. Physioroom reports no new injuries: it is Lacazette, Santi Caz and Ramsey – who is expected to be fit by 25 February.
I suspect we will also see Danny Welbeck playing again. I have read commentaries saying the Danny showed he was lacking confidence etc etc – well the best way to overcome that is to play him some more. Dropping him now would surely destroy his confidence if that is an issue for the guy.
But then at this point in my selection procedures I run into trouble. PanArmenian.net tells us authoritatively that Henrikh Mkhitaryan will be rested ahead of the League Cup final – citing as their source the authoritative Daily Star.
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Now at Untold we always take the Star very seriously, as you will know, but on this occasion we think maybe the good folk of Armenia are being led astray because Henrikh is surely cup tied, isn’t he, in terms of the League Cup. Which means there is every good reason to play him on Thursday so that if we do put in some youngsters they get the chance to play with a top man.
On the other hand the reverse is true with Aub who can’t play in the Europa but can play in the League Cup Final.
There is also the issue of Reiss Nelson – an extraordinary talent but one who has flitted in and out of the team. He should certainly get a game as well – probably in an attacking position which is where he tends to end up no matter where is is supposed to be playing.
We also have Kolasinac who has not been given a first choice posting in the team for a little while, and who will probably be beached for the League Cup game on Sunday, so he can play on Thursday just to keep him fit and buzzy.
Holding and Chambers could get a game at the back, Xhaka and/or Elneny might be given the job of solidifying the defence (depending on who else is playing), Joe Willock could play in midfield, and Eddie Nketiah might well get more of a run out than normal. Oh yes and I think Matt Macey will be there as the backup keeper.
I’m rather looking forward to it. At least I won’t have the nerves I am likely to have on Sunday at Wembley. Man City supporters do appear to be turning into an awful bunch of hearty roughs.
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