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By Bulldog Drummond
“Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta to make surprise Europa League team selections” according to the Express.
But the surprise they claim, however, is not that we see players from the junior ranks that we have never seen before, but rather, very few changes from the Premier League side.
However they then go on to tell us that Goalkeeper Matt Turner could deputise for Aaron Ramsdale.
They also say “Fabio Vieira made a brief cameo off the bench against United and is set to have a regular spot in the team. Young winger Marquinhos, who has been an unused substitute in the last three league matches, could also be given an opportunity.”
Now I would call that a surprise, given that the key issue here is to pick up the points so that the club can go into the last game or two in the group, knowing they have qualified. But the Express writer continues…
“Rob Holding is likely to be given game time in defence, with the likes of Takehiro Tomiyasu and Cedric Soares also vying for spots. But it appears Arteta is not overly keen on using untested academy players and will instead field strong XIs.”
Why and how this appears we are not told.
But in fact the team that will turn out looks likely to contain the sort of range of changes managers normally make at this stage. It is very rare that clubs put out a complete array of young players with limited experience, although Arsene Wenger did do this on occaison – but not always with success.
The team put out for the first match in the Europa League in 2020 was
Soares, Gabriel, David Luiz, Kolasinac
Saka, Elneny, Partey, Pepe
It seems to me much more likely however that the results of the games will determine what sort of team Arsenal will put out, and a series of solid performances akin to those the last time Arsenal played in the Europa will allow more young players to be introduced for the last couple of games.
For the final group stage match two years ago the team included Runarsson in goal, Emile Smith Rowe, Joe Willock, Ainsley Maitland Niles, Nic Pepe and Eddie Nketiah in the starting XI and Folarin Balogun, Den Cottrell and Miguel Azeez being used as subs.
However the fact that the opposition on Thursday has had such a dodgy start to the season is, I think, unlikely to influence the manager very much. He’ll want a strong win to set the campaign off on the right note.
Certainly, none of the under 21s who played against Feyenoord last night were ever likely to be in the squad for Switzerland. The starters were Graczyk, Sweet, Foran, Awe, Jeffcott, Ibrahim, Bandeira, Henry-Francis (C), Taylor-Hart, Ideho, Butler-Oyedeji. On the bench we had Hillson, Brown, Robinson, Nwaneri, Lewis, Sagoe Jr. The game finished as a 1-1 draw against Feyenoord.
As suggested above, last time around Arsenal had a spectacular campaign in the group stages of the Europa
|22 Oct 2020||Rapid Wien v Arsenal||W||1-2|
|29 Oct 2020||Arsenal v Dundalk||W||3-0|
|05 Nov 2020||Arsenal v Molde||W||4-1|
|26 Nov 2020||Molde v Arsenal||W||0-3|
|03 Dec 2020||Arsenal v Rapid Wien||W||4-1|
|10 Dec 2020||Dundalk v Arsenal||W||2-4|
And I seem to recall that Arsenal were the first team ever to win all six qualifiers – although I am writing that one from memory so I could be wrong. If so I am fairly sure I’ll be corrected.
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