Scoring is fun. Winning, even more so. Don’t let any of the negativity with qualifiers about the match and opponent tamper down your enjoyment from that victory.
Being a supporter of a club is all about the journey. The difficult times will come and it’s about how the club works through them. But when something positive happens, especially a 6-0 something, revel in the moment.
Saturday is expected to be a brutal reminder of where Arsenal is in the league at the moment and the difficulties the squad has to overcome due to absences, fitness, and roster depth
compared to the hosts Manchester City. After this, the league halts for a way-too-early international break. Can Mikel Arteta find a way to take a result back home and continue building positive momentum?
Left Out: Folarin Balogun, Héctor Bellerín, Sead Kolasinac, Arthur Okonkwo
Out: Ben White (COVID), Thomas Partey (ankle), Eddie Nketiah (ankle), Gabriel (knee), Alex Runarsson (COVID), & Willian (COVID / transfer pending).
This lineup could be in two different formations. The more likely is what we’ve seen lately in a 4-2-3-1, making Chambers the right-back and pushing Saka over to the right-wing attacking position.
However, up against City’s attacking options and considering how depleted and out of form in the league this defense has been, it needs all the help it can get.
Putting Saka and Chambers at wing-back would allow Arsenal to absorb more pressure, help neutralize their fullbacks that will push forward, and correct the tactical error against Chelsea which saw far too much space given to the opponent out wide.
Based on Arteta’s latest comments there is an outside chance that Gabriel could be in contention for the matchday squad Saturday. However, with the international break just ahead it’s advisable to keep him out of the City match and look for his return in two weeks against Norwich City.
Barring any late fitness or COVID issues, I’ve left Bellerin, Kolasinac & Willian out of the matchday squad.
Arteta noted that the club has ‘player exits’ planned as the transfer window enters its final week. With plenty of coverage and not wanting an injury against City to prevent a move, it’s hard to see any of these three featuring Saturday.
Ramsdale looked good in his debut on Wednesday, but I don’t see Mikel dropping Leno this weekend.
However, the international break presents the coaching staff with the perfect opportunity to allow Ramsdale to make his case in practice for the starting spot when Arsenal returns to face Norwich.
Pablo Mari has had a brutal start to his season but he did provide this lovely meme-worthy image from the Cup match. But with Gabriel and White unavailable, Arteta has little choice but to start Mari once again (see Wednesday’s emergency CB Sead Kolasinac).
The other alternative would be to pair Holding & Chambers in a back four with Cedric at RB, or Tierney-Holding-Chambers as a back three and Cedric or Maitland-Niles at right-wing-back.
In attack, if Martin Odegaard is fit enough to start a second match four days, he starts. If he is forced onto the bench I could see either Pepe slotting into the right (in either formation mentioned above) or Lacazette starting up top with Auba and Saka on either side of him.
Ideally, Odegaard starts, which allows Lacazette, Pepe, and Martinelli to be great substitute options in the second half.
Arsenal – 2
Manchester City – 2
This is a tremendous test for Arsenal. Losing the two opening league matches of the season, a squad that has been depleted since the opening day, and traveling to the champions with Arteta’s likely top-choice CB pairing unfit.
A draw would be a big victory for this squad, but expectations have Arsenal heading into the international break with zero points from nine.
Can the Gunners pull off an upset on the back of the 6-0 League Cup victory? Leave us your predictions for Saturday’s clash in the comments below.