by Bulldog Drummond
While the international interruptions (the I I) are a pain in the a. and disrupt my own personal weekend routine of presenting the match previews, they do also give on a moment for reflection and a spot of looking ahead – and it was the latter which made me realise just how informative the rest of the month’s games will be.
We have, as I am sure you know and don’t need me to tell you (but I’m going to any way), got three Premier League games. Two at home (high flying Watford, as we must now officially call them, and Everton) and one away against Newcastle – this last being the first of the games.
But in addition to that we have the first Europa game and the first League Cup games of the season.
The first thing we will know is how much rotation the manager will be undertaking in terms of the first team players when it comes to the cup games. Many of these players were away in the WC, and are now going away again, so everything suggests they will be omitted en masse from the cup matches.
But there is also the issue of just how the team is set up for the league games – and in fact two questions arise at this point. First who will have been injured or otherwise knocked about while playing away with his country, and second will the boss make any positional changes.
The injuries we can’t yet say, but the positional changes are more talked about – particularly can we now see Aubameyang and Lacazette play together from the start in order to cause havoc and distress? But also are we now going to see midfielder Lucas Torreira play from the start?
So far Torreira has put in 118 minutes for Arsenal: does he now get a chance to do more, and if so at whose expense? Perhaps not as he has been flying to and from Argentina. Ramsey appears to have played very well against Ireland, and Matteo Guendouzi has been putting in a huge amount of highly effective work and hasn’t been distracted by the internationals, so he should be fighting fit.
Xhaka is hardly a favourite of some fans, but seems to be liked by the Arsenal boss as he is by his country’s boss. Ozil is certainly in favour and hardly seems likely to be dropped.
And then who plays up front? Could we go across to two forwards, Aubameyang and Lacazette, and if so what happens to Mkhitaryan? He is listed on the club site as a midfielder, not a winger – which perhaps suggests a reversion to 4-4-2. That would be quite a change.
So whatever happens for that match on 15 September away to Newcastle, we then have the following Thursday the Europa game against Vorskla Poltava who so far this season have won their three home games and lost their two away games including a 4-1 defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk. They are 7th in the Ukraine league.
That would suggest we need some solidarity and experience in the team, but can also put in some players not getting games all the time. We might expect Leno, Elneny, Welbeck, Lichsteiner, Holding, Mavraponas, and Iwobi to be in the team with some regulars to keep things solid at the back.
Then it is Everton on 23 September, followed by Brentford the following Wednesday with Watford as the game at the end of the month. Obviously first team regulars won’t want to be exposed to too much rough and tumble in the league cup so I would expect some of the experienced second XI who played together in the Europa match then to turn out again for Brentford, but this time, instead of being supported by regulars, to play among some of the up and coming youth players. Thus Lichsteiner, Welbeck, Elneny, and Iwobi could well be asked to play in the league cup to keep the cohesion and lend the experience.
Iliev will perhaps be the backup keeper, maybe Osei-Tutu will appear at the back, Smith-Rowe and Willock in the middle, and Eddie up to his tricks up front.
As such these should be interesting games and well worth seeing.
But whatever the boss does, the way he handles the line ups in the rest of this month should give us a clear insight into who’s in his mind and who has dropped out of contention for the weeks thereafter.
- This week’s heroes and a round up of the bonkers
- Get rid of this jobbernowl, this ninnyhammer, this niddy-noddy, this stookie, this puzzlehead, this dizzard, this doddypoll
- Playing with the rule book, the stupidity of reading body language, the Europa squad
- Why is it becoming so difficult to find a sponsor for new football stadium?
- Corruption flares up again in Italy, as Premier League figures don’t look too clever
- How much does a club have to spend on transfers to get a trophy?
- Does the team that is top after 14 games usually go on to win the league?
- How the Taliban infiltrated the World Cup and used it to maintain its war on women