Morning fellow Gooners. Ain’t nothing like a match day, eh? And there ain’t nothing like a match day in which there are absolutely no consequences whatsoever despite win, lose or draw, having qualified for the next round of the Europa League in the last set of fixtures.
I get quite nervous every match day and to be honest the feeling of fear usually overrides the feeling of excitement so to have the occasional match in the season where none of that exists is a welcome one. Tonight’s game can be played and concluded with little worry, before it all starts up again ahead of the weekend, when we travel to St Mary’s to face Southampton.
So I’ll enjoy the pre match beer, chat away for the game and enjoy the craic with familiar faces in my seat, then I’ll head home knowing that I’m not going to get a bad nights sleep because of my football team. Two thumbs up from me. 🙂
So with that in mind, who will be picked for the first XI this evening, given Arsène’s presser yesterday?
He said that Jack and Theo would play, but when he’s choosing Ainsley Maitland-Niles as his player representative to do the interviews with him, it suggests that there’ll be a few more fresher faces for this game given it’s a dead rubber.
I do think he was right yesterday in saying that he needs to keep some of the first team players match fit. We’re about to hit a crucial part of the season and it’s clear that some of the players will suffer fatigue and possibly injury problems too. So when the time comes for reinforcements we all need to be confident that players can at least parachute in and be ready fitness-wise.
So I’m hoping to see Debuchy, Chambers, Big Per and Holding all start, as well as Jack. Theo has been told he’s got a game and so has Maitland-Niles, obviously, but I’d be happy with a bit more rotation after that.
Why not give Matt Macey a start in goal? Why not play one of the academy at left wing back? How about Reiss Nelson in a more advanced position, making up one of the front three with perhaps playing Walcott on the left or up top if he wants to save Giroud for other matches?
Midfield could also have a bit of experimentation too and so I’d think about Willock alongside one of Elneny or Coquelin – probably the Egyptian. He’s better on the ball and Coquelin had a stinker in Köln, so I’d be putting him alongside, unless of course he wants to try Maitland-Niles in midfield in his more natural position.
I guess it really depends on how much rotation the manager wants to do after this match, with West Ham away in midweek on the horizon just after Southampton away. If he wants to do a little bit then I suspect players like Welbeck, Giroud, perhaps even both of Elneny and Coquelin, could be rested with a view to midweek Premier League rotation. Maybe even Big Per sits out tonight’s game. But I’d be wary of ditching many of the squad players because it will hardly help some of the young players’ development if they’re thrown out together to face a men’s side and battered at home in front of what will probably be 40,000 people. They need older pros alongside them to help them get into the swing of first team football and that’s why I’d certainly be playing a better side tonight than many have suggested.
The thing is, as well, is that we can afford to rotate and keep senior pros with the size of squad that we have. We have a big first team and many of those players need to play so giving them these games, whilst not making them completely happy, at least ensures that they don’t feel isolated from the regular starters.
I’d love to give you full chapter and verse on our opposition tonight but as terrible as this makes me sound, a) I really don’t care, and b) it shouldn’t really make any difference depending on how our players play. I’ve clearly been listening to Arsène a little too long, eh?
I’ll be intrigued to see how many people come along tonight. It’s a game in which I suspect a few around me will just not bother, whilst some will offload tickets to those less fortunate to watch all the bigger games, so I do wonder if we really see it a third full. I’m usually a little hyperbolic in my assumptions with things like attendances, but this will by no means be a sell out, that’s for sure.
If you’re going to the game have a good’un and enjoy the fact that we have nothing to worry about this evening.