By Tony Attwood
The long and the short of it is that with the manager quite reasonably speaking in generalities, and the media quite typically suggesting that Mr Wenger’s team selection for the Europa was chaotic, we are not really sure who is going to play this Thursday.
By and large there is a general consensus that this is the moment to give Leno a chance in goal, and Lichtsteiner has to get a go at right back. Some commentators then include Rob Holding in the centre which makes a lot of sense too. So that makes three.
But after that? With no Laurent Koscielny and no Calum Chambers we are a bit short of centre backs. However under Mr Wenger Elneny was used as a centre back, so that is a possibility. That’s four players selected.
But what about left back where all we have is Monreal from the three first team players who could play there. Of course we might have another Maitland Niles in the squad who has the ability to play everywhere, but if not, that gives us a problem. Monreal will have to play in each and every game – and we have to hope he won’t get injured. Unless…
Well actually we do have two other left backs, and if they are going to get a try it ought to be now, either in this game, or in the league cup game next week. Those two are Cohen Bramall and Tolaji Bola. Now I have heard people say that they would not trust either of them, but the manager obviously has some feel for them since neither was sold in the summer. One of those makes it five.
Moving into the centre of midfield – if Elneny is not used at centre back he’s an obvious player in the centre of midfield, perhaps along with Lucas Torreira, who hasn’t had that much time on the pitch as yet. It could be a chance to give him a full game.
On the other hand there is also Guendouzi – who I guess could be played as the third central midfielder ahead of Elneny and Torreira. But we still need one more, if Elneny is indeed used at centre back. Emile Smith-Rowe might get a chance – he certainly continued to look good in the Coventry game. That completes the keeper, back four, and midfield three.
Now it was noticeable that Mkhitaryan didn’t figure at the weekend so he could play in this one. and then we have Iwobi who looked impressive before his illness after the West Ham game. (Always dodgy going to that part of London, you never know what you might pick up.)
So if we are imagining Mkhitaryan and Iwobi as the wingers then that would mean playing Danny Welbeck at centre forward. That would be disappointing for Eddie who came on as a sub in the victory over Coventry last week. Eddie certainly won’t want to feel he is too good for the under 21s in the Checkatrade but not good enough for the Europa and/or League cup
But there are also claims that Aubameyang ought to play a game here in order to get his scoring boots back on, so it could be that Auba and Welbeck both play in the team with either Iwobi or Mkhit. dropping out.
Now much of this also depends on the thinking in relation to next Wednesday’s game – one option will be to play the same squad in both mid-week games so they get the hang of working together. But that causes a problem for the likes of Monreal and Aubameyang if they are called upon to play both in the league match at the weekend and both these midweek games.
The next level of players that we have are men such as Emiliano Martinez (who will presumably be the backup keeper in both Europa and League Cup matches, Joe Willock, the aforementioned Eddie Nketiah, Konstantinos Mavropanos, Emile-Smith Rowe and Jordi Osei-Tutu.
What we see in this match and the following league game against Brentford will give us a serious insight into exactly how Mr Emery plans to use the the younger players and squad members who are not in the first XI.
I’m rather looking forward to this.
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