Two real basic schools of thought:
1) Arteta should rest everyone. The league is our priority. No need to risk players in the FA Cup.
2) Arteta needs to play everyone. Keep the momentum. Winning breed more winning.
Rest them all
Tonight we face Manchester City away, and I really can see the pros and cons of both arguments.
We need to keep rotating the squad. Give key players a break when we can. Especially the likes of Oleksandr Zinchenko and Thomas Partey (injury issues), Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka (over playing) and Eddie Nketiah (only striker).
We need to go “all-in” on the league and give these players a weekend off.
And even if they did play, City will probably beat us anyone, which will be even more damaging.
Play them all
Winning breeds winning.
We stick out our first team and give ourselves the best chance of going through.
Beat City in the cup then confidence will be high when we play them twice in the league. Play a 2nd string and get dicked, it will eb away at that confidence.
Our last game was Sunday. That was 5 days ago. Our next game is next Saturday, over a week away. There is no need to rest players. We have a week without them playing.
And we should be looking to win as many trophies as possible. The FA Cup might end up as a consolation prize for us if we do not win the league. We have to stay in it to give ourselves the best chance of winning it.
My view? Probably half way between both.
We need to play our strongest possibile team, but also need to give a few players a break.
Matt Turner will get a run out in goal, whilst Takehiro Tomiyasu should start ahead of Ben White in defence.
White certainly does not needs a break, but right back is an area where we can make a change without seeing a drop-off in quality. A run out for Tomiyasu keeps him fresh.
Kieran Tierney should come in for Zinchenko on the left. The Ukranian has had his injury issues so two weeks without football will not be a bad thing.
Despite the accuisation of Jakub Kiwior, I would not expect him to start tonight. Nor should Rob Holding start. I would stick with William Saliba and Gabriel. Keep that strong middle.
Mohamed Elneny will come in for Thomas Partey.
Partey is the best defensive midfielder in the Premier League and our chance to be Champions is linked directly to his fitness. No need to risk him in either the FA Cup or Europa League this season. Just have him fit for the 19 remaining Premier League games.
Although this is what I had written before Elneny’s injury. I think we will see Lokonga given one last chance to show he has a future.
Martin Odegaard and Granit Xhaka should both start.
Odegaard did not play in the World Cup and the drop off from Xhaka to Albert Sambi Lokonga is too great.
Lokonga’s future needs to be questioned and we saw in the Oxford game the difference in class between him and Xhaka
I would make one change in the front 3, with Leandro Trossard coming in for either Eddie Nketiah, Bukayo Saka or Gabriel Martinelli.
You can probably make an argument for all 3.
Saka has played the most for club and country this season. Nketiah is our only out and out striker. Trossard was mainly bought in as Martinelli cover and competition.
I would probably go for the later.
I think Trossard for Martinelli will be the most likely substitution when we are chasing a game.
Left wing is Trossard’s most natural position, and Martinelli is less of a threat than Saka.
We saw the sub work to great affect against Manchester United on Sunday, and I can see if becoming a regualr 70 minute change.
So how seriously should Arteta take the FA Cup? I am 50/50, As is the team I would select:
Tomiyasu Saliba Gabriel Tierney
Saka Odegaard Xhaka Trossard
Not at all. And they should give up Europa League too. Concentrate on the big goal, The Premiership!
Elneny is injured, haven’t you heard, the irony of this post makes me laugh, what do we always sing at FA Cup games….”She wore, she wore, she wore a yellow Ribbon”
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