By Bulldog Drummond
There is little point trying to write out a team sheet because far too much is unknown for this match. We do know that various academy players have been used this season so far, with Bukayo Saka being the last when he came on against Fulham. But which ones are still in favour – or come to that fit, is difficult to say.
But I do think the number of youngsters brought into the team this season both reflects the attitude of the manager on the one hand and the fact that Mr Wenger did leave Arsenal with a superb academy set up and squad on the other. And of course we can expect to see some of these players again today – Mr Emery particularly mentioning Smith Rowe (who presumably is thus back from injury), Willock, and Nketiah. So maybe those three and Saka will be the younger players in the line up this time.
There has also been the revelation that it seems Smith Rowe will not go on loan this month, although there are of course multiple offers to the club for his services.
Elsewhere we will surely have Cech in goal but otherwise…. I don’t really know. Ramsey’s farewell perhaps?
As for Blackpool, in a recent comment I mentioned to the effect that I was bemused by Blackpool’s attendance figures where the average and top attendance appeared to be the same can be resolved to some degree. Checking further it seems that for the Sunderland game they did get 10,994, but 7,804 were away fans as the protests against the owners goes on. So that is their top attendance so far.
The Oyston family who run the club are apparently the most unpopular owners in the league – more unpopular than Mike Ashley. And the Oyston’s situation at the club shows the total lack of power that supporters and Leagues and the FA have over how clubs are run. Except that the FA have chosen to sell the match to TV, thus supporting these owners further and allowing them to keep going. It is yet another sad reflection on the FA; surely they don’t think the Oystons are the right sort of people to run a club?
In one interesting development the local newspaper does not publish pictures of matches in which any fan can be identified because it can result in problems due to the difference of opinion between those who go games and those who refuse to. It makes the arguments between those who waved Wenger Out placards and those who continued to support the manager, seem rather marginal.
Anyway, let us at least put in a list of players who will not be playing:
Mesut Ozil has a knee injury, Hector Bellerin is back in training but not yet ready, Nacho Monreal is in the same situation as is Konstantinos Mavropanos.
Shkodran Mustafi is out with a hamstring problem while Rob Holding, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Danny Welbeck are of course the longer term absentees.
Which leaves a guessed at squad of 20 – plus any young upstarts suddenly appear out of the blue.
Cech, Martinez, Jenkinson, Lichtsteiner, Koscielny, Sokratis, Medley, Maitland-Niles, Xhaka, Elneny, Torreira, Guendouzi, Ramsey, Iwobi, Saka, Lacazette, Aubameyang, Nketiah, Smith Rowe, Willock.
You can get 13/1 on a Blackpool win, if you fancy taking a long shot. Lacazette is the favourite for the first scorer, but who knows if he will start.
Let’s hope it is not a repeat of Nottingham Forest at this stage last season.
- The FA Cup Third Round – All the games and match officials including those on VAR duties
- Arsenal in the FA Cup, and when unbeatable challengers finally fall flat.
- Blackpool v Arsenal: contemplating the past and the line ups.
- How far down might these points deducations take clubs?
- Big clubs that foul less lose fewer players of their own to injury
- What takes clubs up and down the league: attack or defence?
- Referee Extremism: the situation in Spain and in England
- Didn’t appreciate KO time, M1 is a disaster, but watching Arsenal is a joy