By Bulldog Drummond
It is surprisingly hard to pick up definitive team news at the moment. The latest story is the Elneny has a thigh injury that will keep him out for a couple of weeks, and we know that Cech is going to play in goal. Other than that we can expect a mix of the youngsters and a few older hands. (The Star however seems to disagree about Elneny and has him playing, and we know how down to earth and honest that newspaper is).
Personally I think this could be the moment that Maitland-Niles comes back, and we would expected to see Smith Rowe playing.
Danny Welbeck has played well when he has come on, but of course he has some top scorers ahead of him so I guess the most likely place for him to start is in the Cup games, which includes here.
Joe Willock and Julio Pleguezuelo also took part in first team training ahead of this game so we would expect them to be on the bench or in the starting XI. But looking at what Mr Emery has done in the past I think he will only include two or three players who are yet to prove themselves completely, and surround them with experienced players.
Neither of these two have played for the first team yet, so I suspect the best they can hope for is 20 minutes near the end if all is going well.
Mind you, if my memory is working, I can’t recall Eddie getting any game time yet – we didn’t even see him at Coventry in the Checkatrade game. So maybe it is time for him. Personally I hope so as we were all raving about his exploits for England in the summer.
Arsenal Station come up with this lineup
Lichtsteiner, Pleguezuelo, Sokratis, Jenkinson
Ramsey, Smith Rowe, Mkhitaryan,
That is interesting in that Maitland-Niles can play full back, our current problem position my thought is that this is where he ought to be. I am not sure if Pleguezuelo is totally fit, but if so this could be his chance to start making his way back.
Ramsey, also, I thought, might get a game as he is only being used as a sub in some league games at the moment, but whether he should be officially placed in the attacking midfield or behind them is an interesting point.
So an alternative approach could be
Lichsteiner, Holding, Sokratis, Maitland-Niles
Mkhitaryan Smith-Rowe Nketiah
That approach could leave Pleguezuelo and Jenkinson beached, along with Joe Willock. Not sure whether the manager will put in one or two more experienced players on the bench just in case something goes horribly wrong. Obviously we’ll have a keeper on the bench so that will presumably be Martinez. For the remaining places, maybe Torreira as one of the “if it all goes wrong” helpers and perhaps Iwobi as the other and one other youngster…
Part of this thinking comes from the team arrangements for the Checkatrade match against Cheltenham (which we lost 6-2, after having a player sent off on around 10 minute)s, and a very inexperienced squad left on the pitch, with the likes of Joe Willock, Emile Smith Rowe, Eddie Nketiah and Julio Pleguezuelo not taken to Cheltenham.
So putting all things together from such evidence as we have, I’m going for something like the alternative approach above – but I wouldn’t recommend putting any money on it.
That is it for now. We’re getting some lunch and then making the long and tedious journey through the road works to London, in time hopefully for a little drink in the watering hole before finding our new seats for the match (with us doing the normal “let’s explore another part of the ground” activity for League Cup games. It is possible to buy one’s regular seat for the League Cup, but where’s the fun in that?)
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