Arsenal v Wimbledon: the proposed team and the issue of Xhaka

By Bulldog Drummond

If ever there was a cop out on teams it is the Express today which runs an article “Arsenal vs AFC Wimbledon: Prediction, kick off time, TV, live stream, team news,” and its entire team news is “With no Europa League this season, this competition may provide Mikel Arteta with a rare chance to blood some young players, with Folarin Balogun the most likely to start, but the Spaniard also has several squad players short on minutes.

“Summer signing Nuno Tavares will likely start, while Bernd Leno should come in in goal, having seemingly lost his Premier League place to Aaron Ramsdale.”

But actually none of the columnists and pundits who do offer a team put Balogun in the lineup.

90 min do better and offer


Chambers,  Holding,  Mari,  Tavares

Lokonga,  Maitland-Niles

Pepe,  Smith Roe,  Martinelli


Sports Mole do exactly the same line up.  As do SportsKeeda

Pain in the Arsenal have a twist.  Their headline is “How to watch, lineups…”  and they then say , “there is a squad at Mikel Arteta’s disposal that is in need of earning minutes,” and that’s about it.

But eventually I did find another selection from Pain in the Arsenal…


Tavares, Kolasinac, Holding, Chambers,

Maitland-Niles, Xhaka,

Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli,


Now that is interesting with Xhaka – and I wondered about this.  But as I understand it, and of course I am often wrong red cards count across all competitions.  It is yellow cards that only count in the competition they are awarded in.

So I went a searching and on Arsenal’s own site they state… “Mohamed Elneny is recovering well from a hamstring strain and will be assessed ahead of Wednesday’s match. Granit Xhaka… is serving the last match of a three-match suspension.”

The Daily Canon goes with


Cedric, Holding, Mari, Tavares,

Maitland-Niles, Laconga,

Nketiah, Odegaard, Martinelli,


Which makes the interesting point that if you are in the squad and don’t even get picked for a game against a third division team, that’s a pretty clear message that you have slipped right down the order.

Of course we are only a few games into the season and the real cloggers have not yet had a chance to get their boots into Arsenal players.

But we are in the happy position of having only three players out at the moment (Xhaka, Elneny, Tierney), and this compares with Aston Villa and Leeds who both have eight out.   Hoping of course that we get through in this game again Wimbledon, we could well find that a few more injuries come along.

Not being in the Europa League has its upside of first team players not being dragged all over Europe to play what could well be easy matches (and as I recall we won all of them last season) but which still need to have some first teamers along in case things are not going according to plan at half time.

But not being in the Europa has the downside that some of these youngsters don’t get a chance to play in real competitive games, as so many did in the group stage last season.

I’m not sure about putting Odegaard in but I would certainly like to see Martinelli given some real chances to shine.


12 Replies to “Arsenal v Wimbledon: the proposed team and the issue of Xhaka”

  1. i’d start with the team i’d like picked … sunday, against you-know-who:
    1) i find it very hard on leno, but now it’s cohesion at the back that’s needed now
    2) we have created next to 0 clearcut chance against norwich and burnley with pépé/auba, and pépé number of off-target shots is almost funny on a good day, infuriating on a bad
    3) bukayo needs to play on the right, emil on the left, that’s where they are at their most effective – against burnley i thought they looked as thoguh they were a bit “lost in limbo”, in that bizarre portion of the pitch somewhere between lw and playmaker (bukayo) and the same on the right for emil
    4) we are a way much better football team with laca in – but he might not be picked for contract reasons …
    so much so that tonight i’d like to see:
    pépé-balogun (laca)-martinelli
    laca (balogun)
    if these “back 7” are not picked in a home game against a league 1 team (no disrespect), the dressing-room might soon get to eruption point; laca needs to stretch his legs before sunday
    having said that, usually i’m hopeless at picking teams but of course COYG anyway

  2. The BBC website has Lacazette playing in a midfield three behind Lokonga.


  3. Football commentators “He’s got the ability to do that”, after somebody does something. I’d love to know how much they get paid for stating the obvious.

  4. As much as I can’t abide Murdoch my partner thinks we should subscribe to Sky…yet still we don’t have Sky Quest.

    Murdoch pays nil in terms of income tax in the uk but owns a huge chunk of the governments right wing propaganda machine. But still I’m not allowed to watch football. This bloke is evil in so many ways.

  5. @ Nitram

    A reminder of my first visit to Wembley for the League Cup Final as a youngster in 1968. Let’s hope the result goes a different way this time!

  6. Mikey

    It seems we both got off to inauspicious starts.

    My first visit to Wembley Stadium was a year later. A game I watched as a wide eyed 9 year old sat on the shoulders of my dear old dad. This was the first match I had ever been to. A game played on a quagmire. A game, as you will no doubt recall we lost 3 – 1 to 3rd division Swindon Town.

    The name Don Rogers seered into my young brain at the time. Ian Ure had a nightmare. Bobby Gould scored our consolation goal.

    Out of everything it’s the swamp of a pitch and the players shirts caked in mud that sticks so vividly in my mind.

    None of that stopped me loving every moment and was just the start of my love affair with Arsenal that continues to this day.

    That inauspicious start alas was a portent for the future as far as me watching Arsenal in cup finals in person through the 60’s 70’s and 80’s was concerned.

    Okay my next final was that wonderful night at Highbury when we overturned a 3 – 1 away defeat to Anderlecht to lift the Fairs Cities cup, but it was horribly downhill from there, with one notable exception.

    1978 FAC Ipswich T Lost 0 – 1

    1979 FAC Man UTD Won 3 – 2

    1980 FAC West Ham Lost 0 – 1

    1980 CWC Valencia Lost 4 – 5 Pens

    1988 LC Luton T Lost 2 – 3

    7 finals in total. 5 Defeats, 2 victories. Given our wonderful record in domestic cups in general that is not good.

    Best I keep away don’t you think Mikey 🤣

  7. The Swindon match was a few days after the horse of the year show had taken place on the pitch.
    I am not claiming that The Arsenal were a slick passing team at the time but the pitch was a perfect leveller then I suppose having thirty horses jumping fences and the obligatory Royal Navy gun carriage race ripping it up and creating ruts and furrows was not going to leave the pitch in perfect condition.
    In some ways I was lucky , my Dad worked at Wembley and I got to see a lot of matches there all of those above plus Liverpool in 71 and Leeds the year after .
    I do know that the groundsman was in tears when he saw the state of the pitch that he had to prepare one week after the Household Cavalry had left.

  8. Porter

    Thanks for that. Now you mention it I do remember that now. Not from the time but I think someone else did mention that to me the last time I was venturing down memory lane on here .

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