By Bulldog Drummond
Way back in Arsenal’s first season in the top division, in this current 101 year run, the Christmas fixture list read
|20 Dec 1919||Arsenal v Sheffield Wednesday||W||3-1||League Division One|
|25 Dec 1919||Derby County v Arsenal||L||2-1||League Division One|
|26 Dec 1919||Arsenal v Derby County||W||1-0||League Division One|
|27 Dec 1919||Sheffield Wednesday v Arsenal||W||1-2||League Division One|
Four games in seven days including three in a row. Of course we don’t do things like that any more, but even so, four games in ten days is still getting a bit ludicrous.
|13 Dec 2020||Arsenal v Burnley||L||0-1||Premier League|
|16 Dec 2020||Arsenal v Southampton||D||1-1||Premier League|
|19 Dec 2020||Everton v Arsenal||L||2-1||Premier League|
|22 Dec 2020||Arsenal v Manchester City||League Cup|
Manchester City are of course the current champions of the League Cup having just won it three times in a row and seven times overall – one fewer than Liverpool.
Their recent run is nothing like ours but it is still worth noting with just two goals in the last three games. But while we haven’t won in the last three they haven’t lost.
|12 Dec 2020||Manchester United v Manchester City||D||0-0||Premier League|
|15 Dec 2020||Manchester City v West Bromwich Albion||D||1-1||Premier League|
|19 Dec 2020||Southampton v Manchester City||W||0-1||Premier League|
For their last Champions League game they were able to put out a variation on their Premier League side, so I suspect we shall see a variation once again for this match with Arsenal giving a chance to some of the Europa League squad, while the PL team have a rest to lick their wounds.
Comparing Manchester City away from home with Arsenal at home we see a contrast that not only reflects the fact that home teams are doing considerably worse than away teams this season, but also the fact that Arsenal are doing considerably worse than Manchester City generally.
|7||Manchester City away||7||3||3||1||7||5||2||12|
We have just four players unavailable for this game, details from physioroom as ever…
|Reason||Further Detail||Potential Return||Return date?|
|Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang||Calf/Shin/Heel Injury||Dec 21: “Auba is feeling much better. He will have another scan and we will see how quickly we can get him back in the team.”||26/12/2020|
|Granit Xhaka||Suspended||Sending Off – Red Card||26/12/2020|
|Gabriel dos Santos Magalhaes||Suspended||Sending Off – Two Yellow Cards||22/12/2020|
|Thomas Partey||Thigh Injury||Dec 11: “Thomas will be out for a few games. It is the same area where he got injured previously, we will have to see how long it is going to take to heal.”||No Return Date|
So all things considered this looks a very tough call for our Europa squad against Manchester City’s second XI.
But if Mr Arteta does choose to put out the Europa squad for this game then it really will give us a chance to see how good they are against serious opposition. True they won every game in the Europa group stage, and that has rarely been achieved by Arsenal, but even so, Manchester City’s back up squad looks formidable.
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Our earlier games in the League Cup came at a time when hopes were very high indeed, having seen Arsenal carry off the FA Cup a short while before, as starting the new season (that is with the Community Shield) Arsenal went through seven games with just one defeat – that being the away match with Liverpool. The other six were won, including our two League Cup matches. 0-2 away to Leicester and 4-5 on penalties away to Liverpool after a goalless draw.
Now for that Liverpool game Arsenal put out this team…
Cédric Soares Gabriel Rob Holding Sead Kolašinac
Bukayo Saka Dani Ceballos Joe Willock Granit Xhaka
Nicolas Pépé Eddie Nketiah Bukayo Saka
This time it is just possible we could see Saka and Martinelli play in the team – which would certainly make it worth watching, no matter what the result.
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