Nelson and Willock set to be dropped as Pepe in line for first start

Arsenal will look to continue their 1 game unbeaten run in the Premier League this weekend against Burnley.

Having beaten Newcastle 1-0 at St James’ Park, Unai Emery has a bit of a selection headache.

Does he stick with the players who defended well, but created little for the match against Burnley; or does he bring in some of the fit again senior pro’s, including a couple of new signings.

Joe Willock, Reiss Nelson, Matteo Guendouzi and Calum Chambers all performed well against Newcastle and probably do not deserve to be dropped. However Emery will know how important it is to play the best team available, even if it ruffles a few feathers.

David Luiz sat patiently on the bench against Newcastle following his deadline day arrival. He had a full pre-season with Chelsea and is ready to play. Will Emery pick Luiz over Chambers or Sokratis? My bet is Emery might just reward Sokratis and Chambers with a fine 1st display and keep the pair in defence.

With Hector Bellerin, Kieran Tierney and Sead Kolasinac all out for one reason or another, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Nacho Monreal will be the full backs.

Moving to the middle of the park, the axis of Granit Xhaka and Guendouzi provided good cover for the defence. But at home against an average side, do we need to play 2 defensive midfielders? Could Real Madrid loanee Dani Ceballos come in for one? Giving the side a more creative option for deep.

And what for Lucas Torreira?

The Uruguayan midfielder played next to no part in pre-season (just 4 minutes against Barcelona) due to only returning to training on 1st August after the summers Copa America. Taking into account Xhaka and Guendouzi played a full part, I would not expect him to start against Burnley – he did not even get off the bench against Newcastle.

If Arsenal are winning comfortably, I expect Torreira to come off the bench and be given 20 minutes as he regains full match fitness.

That leaves Xhaka, Guendouzi and Ceballos fighting it out for the central midfield positions.

I actually think we might see all 3 start, with Ceballos replacing Joe Willock as creator in chief.

Willock had an OK game against Newcastle, but his performance is more remembered for a tackle than anything he created. He is a hard working talented footballer and I see his career actually being a little deeper than playing Number 10.

At home against Burnley we do not have to worry as much defensively, so it might be a better option to play the more attack minded Ceballos with Willock relegated to the bench.

On the wings, record signing Nicolas Pepe looked fairly sharp on Sunday despite only recently returning to training following playing in the African Cup of Nations and the stress of his big move.

Games like Liverpool away is why Pepe was bought. His pace and power key on the break. For that reason I expect him to start against Burnley on the right hand side, replacing Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Pepe to be substituted off on 60 minutes will be a bank bet if he starts.

The left wing is an interesting conundrum.

Nelson had a solid game against Burnley and you also have the aforementioned Mkhitaryan. Alexandre Lacazette is also available which gives Emery the option of playing Aubameyang wide left.

With one eye on that Liverpool game, I have a hunch that Emery might plumb for Lacazette up top and Aubameyang on the left. That will give 60 minutes to his 1st choice front 3 – Aubameyang, Lacazette, Pepe.

It might be harsh on Willock and Nelson, but football is not a business of compassion. We ned to play the best team we can. That means an exciting front 4 of Ceballos, Pepe, Aubameyang, Lacazette.

Expect Willock and Nelson to come off the bench (if we are not chasing the game) as well as Lucas Torreira.

It is exciting to actually have so many options.

Expected starting XI:

Leno

AMN Chambers Sokratis Monreal

Xhaka Guendouzi

Pepe Ceballos Aubameyang

Lacazette

Keenos

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The Wonder of You – It’s a NO from me

When we moved to the Emirates Stadium back in 2006, everything felt a little bit manufactured, and a little bit too corporate for many fans.

Highbury was home. It was the house we had all grown up in. Then it was as if we had won the lottery and moved to this shiny new mansion down the road. It was bigger and better than the old creaky place, but it was not quite home.

The move to the new ground (13 years later, it is not so new anymore) was the correct decision. It meant 20,000 more Arsenal fans could go each week (how many reading this had spent 10 years on the waiting list for Highbury to the get their 1st season ticket at the new ground?). But it also felt like Arsenal had changed with the move; chasing the commercial revenue.

From the selling of the naming rights, the ring of boxes and the invention of club level allowing people to buy their way into a season ticket ahead of fans who had been waiting for years, it all felt like it was only about the money.

Add in the badge being changed and at the time it felt like our club had completely changed.

Synonymous with these changes was a new song. The Wonder of You.

For years Liverpool had sung “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, Manchester City had “Blue Moon”. West Ham “Bubbles”. The Arsenal board had taken it upon themselves to try and manufacture an anthem for Arsenal fans to sing. And it was horrible.

The Wonder of You was a song made famous by Elvis Presley in the 1970s. It had zero connection to Arsenal, and Arsenal fans failed to connect with it.

It was so bad that the club had to put the words up on the big screen. It simply was not Arsenal.

After a few years the club realised that The Wonder of You was not working and returned to classics such as “Good Ol’ Arsenal” and “Right Here Right Now”.

There is plenty the club can do to improve the atmosphere at the ground – from campaigning for safe standing to telling it’s stewards to be less aggressive with those trying to start a song. I even support the drum that is planned against Burnley.

What the club should not be doing, however, is taking a step backwards. They should not return to The Wonder of You.

Keenos

Arsenal clear out set to begin

Following a very good transfer window in terms of who came in to Arsenal, the bit Arsenal clear out has still not really taken place.

Before the English transfer window shut, Arsenal moved on the likes of Krystian Bielik, Carl Jenkinson and Alex Iwobi. They also sold David Ospina and Laurent Koscielny to clubs abroad.

Whilst the English transfer window might have closed, the windows in France, German and Spain do not slam shut until 2nd September, whilst the Serie A window shuts on the 23rd August. This means there is still plenty of time for Arsenal to move a few more players on.

Unai Emery dropped a huge hint that Shkodran Mustafi is off by not even selecting him to sit on the bench in the clubs opening game against Newcastle.

The Spaniard picked Calum Chambers and Sokratis to start the match. Mustafi did not even make the bench even though Arsenal only had one other fit defender (David Luiz).

Mohamed Elneny will surely not be too far behind Mustafi out of the door.

The Egyptian midfielder barely played last season and now finds himself behind Granit Xhaka, Lucas Torreira, ,Matteo Guendouzi, Ainsley Maitland Niles and Joe Willock. Chambers would likely also get in ahead of him.

With the arrival of Kieran Tierney, Arsenal currently have 3 left backs – the Manxman joining Nacho Monreal and Sead Kolasinac.

The feeling is if a big enough offer comes in for Kolasinac, Arsenal will consider it.

Monreal recently signed a new 1 year deal and would be unlikely to raise much in transfer funds. The experienced Spaniard was named as part of Emery’s leadership team and will surely stay about for another year.

If Arsenal do cash in on all 3 players, they can expect to recoup around £50million. This would take it to over £100m received from sold players, topping the bank account back up to go again next summer.

All is bright, all is beautiful, all is red and white.

Keenos