For years Twitter has always been a place to avoid when Arsenal team news is announced.
No matter who is in the starting XI, there will always be someone who goes OTT in moaning, complaining and abusing.
Sunday night against WBA was no different, with some “fans” going as far as saying “I will not watch now” after the XI was announced. Let me tell you something, those that refuse to watch us due to the starting XI, or because we are a little shit, these people are not fans.
But that is a debate for another day.
I am happy people questioning the starting XI, that is a football fans prerogative. It is the abuse that I will never understand.
And last prior to the game questions of the starting XI were justifiable, as Willian, Dani Ceballos and Mohamed Elneny all got the nod.
Now I get that the team played on Thursday, and Mikel Arteta decided to shuffle the back with 6 changes, but what is interesting is the route he went down.
Arteta went for experience in his changes – Calum Chambers, Gabriel Magalhães, Dani Ceballos, Mohamed Elneny and Willian as five of them.
The other route he could have gone down is playing some of the youngsters – namely Reiss Nelson, Folarin Balogun, Miguel Azeez.
Arsenal have 3 games to go.
Top 7 will be enough for Europe, we currently sit 9th, 4 points of Tottenham.
It is highly unlikely we will win our last 3 games (next up is away to Chelsea), which is what would be required to finish top 7. So what does Arteta do in the last 3 games?
The first option would be to do what he did Sunday, play our strongest available, fittest XI to give ourselves the best chance of winning those 3 games.
We will all only moan at the end of the season if Arteta brings in some youngsters, we fail to beat WBA and miss out on 7th by a single point.
So yesterday playing that strong XI against WBA was the right decision. It has kept us with an outside chance.
Likewise we need to put out a strong team against Chelsea.
Beat Chelsea on Wednesday night – whilst improbable – would bring Arsenal back into that fight.
A victory over Chelsea would see us leapfrog Everton into 8th, and be just 3 points behind West Ham in 5th. Every team in and around us would have a game in hand – and Everton 2 games. Top 7 could still be on.
It is after the Chelsea game Arteta needs to review what he is doing.
If we lose to Chelsea, our chances of top 4 will be as unlikely as Stan Kroenke selling. It is at that point Arteta should then dump Ceballos, Elneny, Willian et al and give a run out to Nelson, Azeez and Balogun.
The later two names I expect to be part of the first team squad next season, so getting a couple of Premier League starts under their belt will be useful for their development.
Whilst we have an outside chance of top 7, we should play the strongext available XI.