And we are back.
It has been a long old two weeks as domestic football stepped aside for UEFA new pointless nations league.
After the euphoria of the World Cup, England returned back to its normal status in friendly’s. Boring, disinteresting games that send you to sleep.
It did not take me too long during both games to switch across to watch the cricket highlights followed by the Vuelta Espana. The cricket and cycling have certainly been more exciting then the football.
So we are back today with the near 300 mile and 140 step trip to the Newcastle away end. I once read that the furthest seat from the centre circle in St James Park was a quarter of a mile away. You are certainly up with the gods in the away end.
After two weeks with no football, Newcastle begins a run of 7 games in 23 days.
After using a core group of players in the opening 4 games – just 13 have started a game – Unai Emery is going to have to begin shuffling his pack.
This starts this weekend as it is about time Lucas Torreira started.
Uruguay played just once during the international break, with Torriera playing just 45 minutes of football. He should be fit and raring to go.
I would bring him straight in for Matteo Guendouzi.
The teenage Frenchman has quickly become a fans favourite but football has no place for favourites. We need to play our best midfield and at the moment that is:
Ramsey Torreira Xhaka
Start all 3 and it gives us the solid bank in front of the defence, also covering the full backs when they bomb forward.
With Arsenal set to play every mid-week up until the next international break – and potentially every mid week after until the middle of November, Guendouzi will still get plenty of game time to continue his development.
Other than Torreira the starting XI will come from that core group of 13 (minus Ainsley maitland-Niles) who have started a game this season.
The only real decision will be over which 2 starts between Henrikh Mkhitaryn, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette,
I expect Petr Cech to continue in goal. Whilst I do not agree with this, he is Emery’s umber one and I back the Spaniard.
Bernd Leno will surely start every mid week game, and it is only then we will be able to fully judge if Emery has made the right decision. Some good performances in the mid week games over the next 23 days could see him pushing Cech when players return after the October international break.
The mid week team (injury permitting) will look something like:
Lichtsteiner Mavropanos Holding Kolasinac
Guendouzi Maitland-Niles Elneny
The likes of Eddie Nketiah, Joe Wilock, Xavier Amaechi & Tyreece John-Jules will also all see some game time, although it will probably be from the bench.
Whilst it is important for teenagers to get some senior game time; it is also key to keep senior players like Elneny, Iwobi and Welbeck match sharp.
They are superior players to the youngsters, and will be the ones stepping up if someone from the weekend side picks up an injury.
Now I am off for a long old train journey to the North-East.
Up The Arsenal