By Bulldog Drummond
Our last outing in the Europa League 2020-21 season included an opening run in the group stages in which we won all six matches which is a feat worth repeating…
|22 Oct 2020||Rapid Wien v Arsenal||W||1-2||UEFA Europa League|
|29 Oct 2020||Arsenal v Dundalk||W||3-0||UEFA Europa League|
|05 Nov 2020||Arsenal v Molde||W||4-1||UEFA Europa League|
|26 Nov 2020||Molde v Arsenal||W||0-3||UEFA Europa League|
|03 Dec 2020||Arsenal v Rapid Wien||W||4-1||UEFA Europa League|
|10 Dec 2020||Dundalk v Arsenal||W||2-4||UEFA Europa League|
Our team for match number five in the series was
Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson
Cédric Soares Shkodran Mustafi Pablo Marí Sead Kolašinac
Mohamed Elneny Reiss Nelson Ainsley Maitland-Niles
Nicolas Pépé Alexandre Lacazette (captain) Eddie Nketiah
The substitutions were Dani Ceballos, Emile Smith Rowe, Willian, Calum Chambers, Folarin Balogun
We won the game 4-1 in front of a crowd of 2,000 and indeed went on to win the final group match to complete the whitewash of the group stage.
And a whitewash this time around is certainly still on the cards having won all four of our games thus far in a more difficult group, and with the toughest match in the group to come this evening. And as noted earlier a defeat would not be a disaster for we’d have to lose both tonight and in the final game for PSV to come top (if they won both against us and their remaining game). It seems rather unlikely.
According to Football.London three young midfielders could be involved in the game tonight (although probably not in the starting XI): Matt Smith, Catalin Cirjan and Brandley Ibrahim.
Of course what would really suit us would be to get a win or a draw, meaning that the result of the last game would not matter in any regard, and so these young players and some others could get some experience in the last match.
Football.London comment that, “Smith has become a regular part of first-team training but maintained playing time with the under-21s,” and “Ibrahim is a defensive midfielder who would be in competition with Thomas Partey”. As for Cîrjan he has been a “regular trainer with the senior side. He has been on the bench for three of the four group games so far.”
They also note that Khayon Edwards, Amario Cozier-Duberry and Maldini Zacurri have also all trained with the senior side but were not present in the training building up to this game.
Meanwhile, Marquinhos is reported to be sick and so has missed training. OleksandrZinchenko, also missed training on Wednesday as he recovers from a calf issue.
According to SportsMole “Matt Turner, Kieran Tierney, Albert Sambi Lokonga, Fabio Vieira and Rob Holding can still feel confident of earning recalls.”
They also make the rather cute observation that “Xhaka is one yellow card away from incurring a European ban, and it would arguably be ideal for the Switzerland captain – who could make his 50th Europa League appearance – to be cautioned this week and in turn serve that suspension in the final group game.”
Which is an interesting way of considering matters. “Go and get a yellow Granit” doesn’t really fit with the concept of sportsmanship, but that’s what you get with these arbitrary rules and regulations about when cards are canceled and when they are not.
As for the team they go with
Tomiyasu, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney;
Saka, Vieira, Martinelli;
However there’s an oddity, because they then add…
“Given their repeated failures to translate their dominance into goals in recent weeks, we are struggling to back an altered Arsenal side to claim all three points here, but Arteta’s men should hang on for the draw they need to seal their spot in the last 16.”
Repeated failures? Here’s the table…
Let’s imagine Arsenal lose their last two games and Eindhoven win theirs. Yes PSV then go top of the league with 13 points, and Arsenal stay with 12. But can Bodo Glimt overtake us? They have two games, and winning both they would have 10 points. So Arsenal have qualified. The key issue is who wins the league. And besides if Bodo beat or draw with PSV on 3 November, Arsenal still get top spot.
Football.London give us a team of
Cedric, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney;
Lokonga, Vieira, Xhaka;
Nelson, G. Jesus, Nketiah
Finally there is also a women’s European game tonight, and I’ll give details in the next piece.
- Bournemouth v Arsenal: the team news, Jesus’ problem, and winning records
- Bournemouth v Arsenal: injury update, and the record between the clubs
- Bournemouth v Arsenal and Tottenham’s yellow card bonanza
- Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the dirtiest team of all?
- The great injury conundrum: how can Arsenal cope, and how are other clubs suffering?