For the first time in god knows how long we enter the League Cup at the 2nd round stage.
I see plenty of mocking from Tottenham fans; but I remember when they had the “perfect season” a few years ago. 38 league games, knocked out in the 2nd round of the League Cup and 3rd round of the FA Cup. Just 40 games played.
So how seriously should Arsenal take the League Cup?
Without Europe we do not worry about fixture congestion, so no excuse not to play a strong team.
But also without Europe we have less games to keep those fringe players match sharp.
The reward of winning the League Cup is an ugly trophy; but nevertheless a trophy. But it only gets you qualification into next seasons Europa Conference.
Personally, I would like to see Mikel Arteta go all out and win it.
Winning breeds winning and a third trophy in 30 months after the FA Cup and Community Shield would be a good return when we have been in such a huge crisis.
But realistically I think we will rest and rotate.
Expect Aaron Ramsdale to get his first start. Maybe a run out for Hector Bellerin.
Gabriel will return to the defence following his lay off, probably partnering Rob Holding; whilst Nuno Taveras will get his first start at left back.
Midfield will probably be Mo Elneny and Granit Xhaka whilst Odegaard and Aubameyang will get their first start of the season up top.
Who plays wide right and left will be interesting. We might stick Reiss Nelson one side to try and get him in the shop window. That will leave Saka, Pepe, Willian and Smith Rowe playing on the left.
So it will still be a strong team, but one very much of fringe players and those coming back from injury.
WBA have started the Championship season well and have scored 11 goals in their first 4 games.
A defeat will only pile more pressure on Arteta.
Micah Richards has joined the large group of pundits to sit and bash Arsenal from an uneducated stand point.
On Radio 5 lives, he said “Arsenal can’t attract the top top players” and “They’re buying second tier players”.
Lets take both stat
“Arsenal can’t attract the top top players”
Now I would class “top top players” as those amongst the best in the world. Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Kevin de Bruyne, Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, etc.
Arsenal have never attracted this level of players.
We have always bought the level below that.
When we signed Thierry Henry in 1999, he was not amongst the best strikers in the world. That was Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Andriy Shevchenko, Christian Vieri, Gabriel Batistuta.
Robert Pires was not on the level of Zinadine Zidane when we bought him. Or Luis Figo, Francesco Totti or David Beckham.
Some might argue that Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil were “top top players”.
Ozil has the best case that he was, but Sanchez was clearly never on the same level as Messi and Neymar; and was often competing with Pedro for a place in the squad.
The saying used to be “Arsenal do not buy superstars, they make superstars” and most Arsenal fans are delighted that we are returning to buying younger, talented players rather than senior, established players nearing the end of their peak.
“They’re buying second tier players”
It is interesting to see what Richards is calling a “second tier player”.
Is he classing the likes like Messi, Ronaldo, Lewandowski, de Bruyne, Salah, etc as top tier? And then the level of players below that as second tier?
Or is he saying that “2nd tier” is Championship players?
If he is talking the former, than that links in to what we have discussed above.
Arsenal’s transfer policy should always to be buying players at the 2nd or 3rd tier and improving.
Look at Liverpool.
Mo Salah, Virgil van Dijk, Sadio Mane, Andrew Robertson, Joe Gomez, Fiminho.
These were not “top tier” players when they signed them.
Salah was at Roma, van Dijk and Mane at Southampton, Robertson at Hull City and Gomez at Charlton.
3 or 4 years ago would Richards have criticised Jurgen Klopp for buying “2nd tier” players? And look how that turned out…
If Richards is saying that White, Odegaard, Ramsdale, Lokonga and Taveras are “championship level players” then perhaps he is not the good pundit he thinks he is.
Arsenal are an easy target at the moment. So many pundits are talking about us without engaging their brains.
We have never signed the top top players of world football; we have always bought younger, 2nd tier players.
We make superstars; not buy them.
Willian, Kolasinac and Torreira
Looks like we might be finally getting rid of the 3 over the next 48 hours.
Will be interesting to see who actually goes; and it will show each players mentality.
If they decide to turn down Corinthians, Fenerbache and Fiorentina it will show a lack of drive and want to play football.
All 3 know they will remain unregistered at Arsenal this season; so they would basically be choosing not to play for the next 4 months rather than seek first team football elsewhere.
Hopefully all 3 go. And a few more.
Enjoy the game tonight.