by Bulldog Drummond
There is a little debate going on about whether it is better to be in the Europa League and have a chance of winning something, or be in the Champions League knowing that we are not a strong enough team to beat the likes of Real Mad, Barcelona and Bayern – but nonetheless take the money.
The argument has heated up a little by the fact that the figures from last year’s European earnings have now been revealed and show this:
- Arsenal £33.5m
- Man U: £34m
- Tottenham: £55m
- Chelsea: £58m
- Liverpool: £72m
So the argument runs, we aim for the Champs League to make more money, and risk all the angst of being beaten by Bayern or Barcelona yet again. The money, in short, is more important than being in a competition that we stand more chance of winning.
That seems rather contrary to the “Fourth is not a trophy” line – in that suddenly “Fourth is a trophy – and a better trophy than winning the Europa” – because it means lots of dosh. Interesting how we never really heard that argument when we were coming third and bourth. Ah well, it’s a funny ol’ game this journalism lark.
Ahead of tonight’s game Mr Emery said, “We want the balance. The balance to score a lot and not to concede a lot of goals. But for me the individual goalscoring statistics for the players is very important, as it is for the supporters to be excited with many things on the pitch. Scoring goals is important for this spectacle.
“For me, with this balance we want to score a lot and with different players. I want our strikers to have a lot of chances but also to find the balance defensively.”
We are told that 17 of the 18 players who were selected for the Leicester match got the first class flight to Lisbon. Apparently Sokratis is back, and Carl Jenkinson has joined the party – although that doesn’t mean he will be on the bench. He might be, he might not be in the squad, or he might even start. But no place for Ainsley Maitland Niles as yet.
Jose Peseiro, the Sporting manager, said in his conference, “After what happened we have to bring the players back together. The players, they never questioned their love for Sporting. They were just questioning their safety and how they would be received by the supporters. We were able to help the players overcome the trauma. The players were always united, always together.”
So here is a possible XI
Lichtsteiner, Sokratis, Mustafi, Bellerin;
Mkhitaryan, Ozil, Iwobi;
Interestingly, and to their eternal shame, the Guardian don’t have a match preview on their site. Nor does the Telegraph beyond the headline “Unai Emery promises Arsenal will keep playing attacking football and excite the fans ahead of Sporting Lisbon clash.”
Anyway staying with line ups we might see a bit more rotation than this
Jenkinson Holding Sokratis Lichsteiner
Welbeck Aubameyang Iwobi
or of course any combination of those formations. But how could we slip Smith Rowe into that? Well, the obvious way is to drop Iwobi – not because of his form, far from it, but because he will be needed at the Palace. Smith Rowe then fitting in on one side of the front three, Welbeck on the other.
Of course one can go on playing with line ups forever, and we should not forget that being able to do so means that suddenly the “down to the basics”, “scraping the barrel”, “completely played out squad”, has now got enough players in it for us to have men out injured and rotation all at the same time.
Here’s one more version doing the rounds. Now this one is from Talk Sprout so you might want to hold onto your hat a do a bit of disbelief suspension and stuff of that ilk…
Bellerin Mustafi Holding Lichsteiner
Mkhitaryan Ramsey Welbeck
Yes apparently Cech is ready to play again.
Now of course some pundits are not playing by the rules, throwing all sorts of curved balls in by suggesting, for example that Reiss Nelson will play. But not for Arsenal and not tonight. Here’s the headline
Reiss Nelson’s red-hot form in front of goal could see the English youngster earn a place in the Hoffenheim starting line-up when they take on struggling VfB Stuttgart in Saturday’s late game (kick-off: 6.30PM CEST/ 5.30PM BST/ 12.30PM ET).
Meanwhile since 17 of the 18 from the weekend have gone to Portugal that gives us every chance of a strong beach for those who miss out on the game to build sandcastles on. Aside from those mentioned in different permutations in the team that would mean we might have Martinez, Lacazette and Ozil running up and down a bit.
Let’s hope for another fine performance and another fine result. Tragically it is on BT Sprout rather than a proper channel but if you choose not to watch that, you could try the commentary on Arsenal.com – it is usually very good.
- Après moi le déluge – Sporting v Arsenal and the record run of wins
- Sporting v Arsenal: the injuries, previous games, and the team
- Does Ozil fail to live up to his potential when playing against top teams? We take a look.
- Sporting v Arsenal. The crazy world of “all you need to know” and where 4th certainly ain’t a trophy
- This Thursday Arsenal play the Donald Trump of European football.