Arsenal travel to Bramall Lane this evening to face The Blades in the Premier League. It is a game that we will be favourites for but certainly no easy fixture. In my opinion, this is a game where we ought to start seeing some new faces. The priority for the remainder of the season will certainly be Europa League success. Improving our league position would be nice, but realistically, dropped points against West Ham and Liverpool recently tells most realistic Arsenal fans that a top 4 or even top 6 finish are highly unlikely.
With that in mind, let’s play some players who haven’t had much action this season so far. Players like Gabriel Martinelli, Maty Ryan, Pepe and Callum Chambers I think all deserve a run out. Meanwhile, I would love for someone like Folarin Balogun to make the matchday squad. All the rumours suggest he is preparing to put pen to paper on a brand new Arsenal deal. It’s the kind of positive and exciting news which can help us end the season on some what of a high note.
We will be without a number of key players in this one. Kieran Tierney, Martin Odegaard, Aubameyang and Smith Rowe are all unlikely to feature due to either injury or illness. Here is how I would line up to face the Blades.
GK – RYAN: In goal, I think it is time we saw some more of Maty Ryan. The league season is over pretty much, but there is still some value we can get out of our remaining Premier League games. Ryan has put in one stellar performance against Aston Villa, but apart from that hasn’t really received any opportunities. We need to work out whether or not he is actually cut out to make his move permanent this summer. Plus, it will give Leno a break so he is sharp for our 2nd leg with Slavia Praha
RB – BELLERIN: In the full back areas I don’t think there is too much scope of rotation. With Kieran Tierney injured again, we will be pretty much all hands on deck to fill in for him
RCB – CHAMBERS: This is a great chance to learn about Chambers. He has been used a couple of time since returning from injury, primarily as a right back. However, I think he is more suited to being a ball playing central defender. Let’s give him a start in that position and see if he can bring some added depth in that position. At the very least, it would put a couple more million on his price tag if Arteta were to sell him this summer
LCB – MARI: Mari has always seemed solid enough when playing. I think Gabriel needs some rest ahead of the Europa League
LB – CEDRIC: Cedric has done a decent job of covering for Tierney when required and he is pretty much our only option there right now
CDM – ELNENY: I would rest Partey. He seemed quite jaded against Praha on Thursday and he gave the ball away lots. He will need to be both physically and mentally sharper than he was for us to progress in the competition. Elneny has actually had a decent season and has proven he is a good player to have around to fill in when needed
CDM – AZEEZ: To be honest, I would be so very tempted to give Miguel Azeez his first Premier League start. I remember in the back end of the 2017/18 season, Wenger began to rely more on youngsters like Nelson, Maitland-Niles and Mavropanos. I want to see Arteta do the same. If Azeez can get a few appearances under his belt on the back end of this season, it will do him the world of good in terms of being ready to make a greater impact next season. Based on his unreal performances for the u-23’s, he certainly deserves his chance
RM – SAKA: He has just returned from injury so if anything needs to build up match fitness rather than be rested. He was always lively against Praha, but couldn’t convert his chances. A goal in this one can help him ignite a hot streak to end the season with
CAM – PEPE: Playing Pepe behind the striker is something I have been wanting Arteta to do all season. I think that he is very good at picking up pockets of space and playing on the turn, something that it is not always possible to do out wide. Give him that free role behind the striker and let’s see if it’s a position he has got in his locker. It would be a great trait to learn about our record signing if he can.
LM – MARTINELLI: Only one option surely! Auba is out, Willian is average, all our other wingers are either out or being played elsewhere. We know what this guy is capable of! He needs to get some games in the run-in so that he has some confidence to take into next season. If he doesn’t, he will basically be starting next season from scratch like a new signing
ST – LACAZETTE: There is a lot of rotation in my side, but we need some experience as well. Lacazette does not always finish his chances, but he is so helpful to our youngsters with his work rate and hold up play. This is a game for some understudies to shine, and playing Lacazette ahead of them will give them their best chance of doing that in my opinion
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