A very brief blog today as I am heading out early doors for our first home game of the season. Today feels like an Alwyne kind of day.
I would not expect the team to be much changed from last weekends win over Crystal Palace. In fact I expect it to be the exact same starting XI.
One area that Mikel Arteta needs to improve on is the use of his squad.
In the second half of last season he used the same core of 12 or 13 players and basically ran them into the ground. This led us to fall off due to exhaustion towards the end of the season.
You have to wonder if things would have been different if he trusted Eddie Nketiah or Mohamed Elneny earlier? Or gave a run out to Nicolas Pepe which would have given Bukayo Saka a rest.
I guess the argument is that in the second half of last season we chose to cut the squad down to the bare bones and Arteta did not have enough players that he could trust.
The acquisitions of Oleksandr Zinchenko and Fabio Vieira gives the club more depth at left back & central midfield (Zinchenko) and in attacking midfield & out wide (Vieira). Whilst William Saliba coming back off loan gives us a 3rd quality defensive option.
Some will say we still need another right back. I just can not see this happening taking into account how highligh Brooke Norton-Cuffy is rates within the club.
The 18-year-old signed a new long-term deal yesterday and will be expected to be loaned out to a Championship side. If he continues his development I expect him to be part of Arsenal’s first team squad next season.
Considering Djed Spence cost that lot up the road £19million, Norton-Cuffy could save us a lot of money.
I think we still need to strengthen outwide.
We have Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe and Nicolas Pepe. the later of which is not trusted.
Gabriel Jesus and Fabio Vieira can also “do a job” out wide but will be needed regularly in their primary positions.
If we are talking about increasing strength in depth to take strain off players, then we should not consider Jesus a winger.
I still maintain we will not be in for Youri Tielemans. I just can not see the deal happening when we have quite a few “number 8s” now in Martin Odergaard, Granit Xhaka, Fabio Vieira, Albert Sambi Lokonga and Emile Smith Rowe.
Two games into the season, it is a bit too early to be resting and rotating so I expect the same line up as Palace.
Expect Kieran Tierney to make another cameo off the bench and get 30 minutes under his belt whilst Vieira will come in with 10-15 to go.
Onwards and upwards following Arteta’s Red and White Army.