Arsenal v Sporting. Injuries, team news and options.

By Bulldog Drummond

To begin with the injuries, we have five of them, while just three teams are above us on six.  One of them might not be an injury at all but is normally formally classified as a “slight doubt”.

The man What’s up Return? Read all about it
Sokratis Ankle Injury November 8 Slight doubt
Elneny Hamstring Injury November 25 “Expected to return to full training in two weeks.”
Monreal Hamstring Injury November 8 Still a major doubt
Mavropanos Groin Strain November 11 Coming back to full training
Koscielny Achilles December?

The notion of Koscielny coming back this month was always unlikely, but December is a possibility.  Monreal’s injury seems to be put back and back and back each time, but he must re-emerge some time.  It could be today it could be on Sunday.

Elneny’s date seems to have drifted back a bit but Sokratis might be ok.

Emile Smith Rowe, or as we must now learn to call him (because this is what the newspapers and web sites call him) “Teenager Emile Smith Rowe” is “expected to get another start”, and certainly the manager seems as convinced as the rest of us that this guy just needs time on the pitch to evolve into a first team powerhouse.

Petr Cech will start in goal, and I think that one is fairly certain, as the manager is clearly not going to just ditch the keeper and leave him out to dry.

But what of the defence?   What we saw against was Arsenal playing a 4-4-2 formation when under attack, but changing to what could be called a 2-4-3-1 when we went on the attack.  Now Sporting are not Liverpool, but if this is the approach that the manager believes in, it makes every sense to adopt this approach in every game to get everyone used to it.  Which means we want players who can be flexible.

That approach gave us a four across the back when defending of

Bellerin   Mustafi    Holding    Kolasinac

in the previous game against Blackpool we played

Lichsteiner   Mustafi   Pleguezuelo   Jenkinson

If Monreal is finally fit again he could come in at left back but otherwise I think we could see

Lichsteiner   Mustafi   Pleguezuelo   Kolasinac

I don’t think we would dare play the two youngsters in the middle and I suspect Bellerin will need a good week’s recovery having returned for the last match. Unless of course Monreal is not fit and may not be risked at the weekend, in which case we could give Jenkinson another game.

In the middle we played Ramsey, Guendouzi and Smith Rowe against Blackpool.  Against Liverpool it was Torreira Ozil and Xhaka.   I suspect the chances are that we could go with Ramsey, Guendouzi and Smith Rowe, although if the manager suspects there could be some attacking strength from the opposition he might include Torreira or Xhaka.

Then up front we had

Maitland Niles  Welbeck and Mkhitaryan against Blackpool.   Against Liverpool it was Mkhitaryan,  Lacazette and Auba.

Maitland Niles as we know can play anywhere so if the manager doesn’t want Jenkinson again at left back the obvious thing to do is to put Maitland Niles at left back.

Missing from the lists is Sokratis who was injured but could come back for this match.  And although I am thinking that Holding might need a break, he most certainly is young enough to feel he ought to keep on playing match after match.  Plus not included in my lists is Iwobi who will want to be starting.   Somehow the troops will be reduced to XI starters by the time of the game – but the fact that it is not easy to pick the team these days does reflect the growing depth of the squad.

I’m hoping the manager might give us a clue before I have to make my final selection before leaving for the match tomorrow.

Arsenal v Sporting: how the opposition have been doing of late


16 Replies to “Arsenal v Sporting. Injuries, team news and options.”

  1. Team news from the U21s

    Starting XI: Iliev, Pleguezuelo (c), Ballard, Bola, Bramall, Zelalem, Olayinka, Willock, Coyle, Saka, John-Jules

    Subs: Hein, Medley, Omole, Thompson, Gilmour, Smith, Balogun

    Starts for both Bramall and Zelalem, hope they really are over their injuries

  2. Yes, I agree it’s better to wait for Emery to give a clue in his pre-match conference team update before delving into his likely starts and bench for the match. But at any rate, having beaten Sporting CP 0-1 last Thursday night’s in Portugal, Arsenal should cement qualification for the knock out stages with another win over Sporting CP this week’s Thursday night at the Ems. But I expect Emery not to over rotate his team but rotate only a few Gunners for the match. Because Sporting who are on 6 points will still be nursing a hope to reach the knock out stages to therefore come into the game strongly to at least get a draw in the match which Arsenal should deny them from getting it but dealt them another defeat blow in the match through the hands of the Gunners. And that should be the likely outcome in the match.

  3. Minute 41 in the Chekatrade trophy and we lead 1 – 0. Penalty by Willock after Saka fouled after a solo run


  4. Two minutes later and Willock gets his (and our) second. A perfect pass behind the Forest Green defence and Willock shows composure to find the back of the net.

  5. Gilmour on for Zelalem at the start of the second half. He played 20 minutes as a sub last week and now 45 as he works his way back to full match fitness. Bramall still on the pitch.

  6. @Ferg,

    John-Jules coming on nicely but a couple of years away. Bramall looked much better when I saw him at the Ems in the game where he wS injured again but I’m still not sure if he will make our first team. Ditto with Zelalem.

    Nketiah and Smith Rowe were training with the first team earlier today.

    Forest Green have pulled one back. Grub scoring from close range in the 60th Minute.

    10 minutes to go by my reckoning

  7. 85th Minute and John-Jules turns in a cross from Bramall and that should be that, at least in terms of the result.

    4 minutes added time to go

  8. No further score but it’s enough to see us progress to the knockout stage of the competition. We are currently top of the group on 6 points Cheltenham have still to play Coventry City but they can’t both end up with more points than us.

  9. Thanks Andrew
    For some reason your team sheet post wasn’t present when I asked earlier.
    John Jules… is he really the Cats whiskers?

  10. Gord – what was the app (something beaver) that blocked ads & pop ups? My browser got updated & I’ve lost the blocker.

    Much obliged & thanks.

  11. It appears that Electronic Frontier Foundation ( took over maintenance of Privacy Badger. There is a FAQ at

    I normally use seamonkey (the original mozilla codebase) for surfing, and I was never sure if PrivacyBadger works with it. There are suggestions the original badger did work with it.

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