By Bulldog Drummond
It’s an early start for those of us who live outside London so I am writing this piece quite a few hours before kick off, and thus I may be missing some late breaking news in terms of what sort of team we might put out against Stoke Neanderthals.
But still the key question is, does anyone get rested ahead of Thursday? The obvious choice for me would be Lacazette, but I have seen suggestions that Ramsey and Wilshere could both be on the beach.
One possible line up doing the rounds is
Bellerin Mustafi Chambers Monreal
Mkhitaryan Ozil Iwobi
I am not convinced by this one, as if it were to go wrong there would be no end of gnashing of teeth and blaming, creating a dreadful atmosphere of oppression for Thursday.
Red London however finds an alternative and has the headline, “Ozil dropped, Welbeck starts.”
Mind you the arrival of Stoke has some writers trawling through their line up to find players that we ought to sign from their team. No one has actually suggested the appalling Shawcross but there are those saying that we need Jack Butland, their goalkeeper. We shall see how he does today.
Of course there are always some who will try to throw us of course when we have early morning starts after a saturday night out on the town and The Transfer Tavern this morning (yes really, Sunday), is running “Arsene Wenger simply must rest £45m-rated lynchpin against Swansea today”. Or maybe that is just their idea of an April Fools gag.
The Stoke Sentinel however aims to keep up the image of Stoke, its environs and its fans by running the headline “Who to boo today”. It is one thing that the Stoke fans boo people for no particular reason, but to have to be told who to boo shows a certain shallowness of independent thinking. But then that is I guess what we have been talking about through some of these preview notes.
Thus at the time of writing a very strong team could be something along these lines….
Bellerin Koscielny Mustafi Monreal
Mkhitaryan Aubameyang Ozil
Now of course some of those positions could be fluid – Wilshere moving forward and back depending on the flow of the game, and Ramsey free to join the forward line. This line up would leave Lacazette on the beach, which would then free him up for the game on Thursday in which of course the daft Europa rules apply in order to remove Aubameyang from that game. That would make sense overall.
We could also see Ozil go for a wander in this regard (assuming he is not dropped as the report noted above suggests), moving into a more central position behind the midfield duo, and allowing the old pals of Mkhitaryan and Aub to meander freely around hacking backs as they explore the possibility of whether this referee will give a free kick or even a penalty against Stoke.
As for the beach that line up would leave us with ten serious possibilities:
Ospina, Chambers, Holding, Maitland-Niles, Kolasinac, Elneny, Iwobi, Nelson, Welbeck, Lacazette
Incidentally that doesn’t leave any room for the other youngsters like Nketiah, but I did overhear a suggestion that Welbeck might be leaving at the end of the season so that Eddie could step up as the first choice backup striker after Aug and Laca. Maybe so, maybe not; when it comes to predicting a season ahead one never knows.
I suspect tactical issues will influence the final choices but I would reduce that to seven by leaving out Holding, Welbeck and Nelson. Although as I noted above, one site has Welbeck playing (and it is interesting just how clear they, and the other sites quoted are, in saying their line up is right. If I had time I’d keep copies of their utterly certain predictions and see how they did). (But I don’t).
As for the infidels, the evil entity known as Shawcross looks like he is playing (yep he is still at the disgraced player with the disgraced club and its disgraced supporters). They could even have Crouch on the bench.
Looking forward, like many supporters, I would like Wilshere to stay, but not just because of his long association with the club. When he and Ramsey play in midfield together they look like a perfect pairing, secure in the knowledge of Xhaka behind, and thus able to roam and explore, while pulling back if up against a team that appears able to make a breakthrough.
If Wilshere went I wonder if we would play Elneny there, and if so whether he would simply release Ramsey to play further forward all the time – I imagine so. That too could work, but if would still be sad to see Jack go.
Anyway, if you are going, drive save, and have a great day.
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