Tag Archives: Doncaster

5 good and 5 bad of Arsenals victory over Doncaster


  1. We won and are into the next round, where we host Norwich City
  2. 90 minutes for Alexis Sanchez. He should now be fit to start against WBA
  3. 90 minutes for Jack Wilshere. He continues his rehabilitation
  4. Ainsley Maitland-Niles has the pace and strength to be a Premier League player
  5. We kept a clean sheet (I am struggling for 5)


  1. Jack Wilshere tired dramatically in the second half. Not yet ready to start a Premier League game
  2. David Ospina’s kicking was atrocious and put us in danger. Could not get past the halfway line
  3. Way too much space between the defence and midfield
  4. Both Maitland-Niles and Reiss Nelson made key errors that could have cost goals. Were both playing out of position
  5. Olivier Giroud is not the man for games to expose lesser teams. He puts in the same level performance not matter the opponent


Who will start for Arsenal against Doncaster?

Tonight Arsenal host Doncaster in the Copacabana Cup, or something like that. I think it is title sponsor of the Football League Cup. Which in turn is the re-brand of the League Cup.

As always, Arsenal will use the League Cup as a chance to give youngster a chance, as well as give the senior pro’s a run out. It perhaps shows the strength of Arsenal’s Premier League squad these days in comparison to 10 years ago that the side will probably now have more senior pro’s than youngsters.

There was a time, in the mid 00’s, when the majority of our second string were teenagers, or under 23. These days, nearly everyone in the second XI is a senior international.

It leaves Arsene Wenger with a bit of a conundrum. Does he disregard the senior squad players and give a run out to a load of U23’s, or does he give the proper second string a full 90 minute run out to ensure they are match sharp and ready to come into the first team if needed?

The reality is we will probably see a mix of the two. Half the team will be senior pro’s, the other half youngsters who are looking to step up to the first team squad. A bit like the side that face Koln last week, and that will probably be put out for most of the Europa League games.

The first conundrum will be who plays in goal. Will it be David Ospina, the Columbian international, 2nd choice keeper, first choice cup keeper. Arsenal.com shows just two first choice keepers, so it is only logical that Ospina will start.

However, in the past, Wenger has disregarded the 2nd choice keeper and given the 3rd choice one a run out in the League Cup. If memory serves me right, Emilio Martinez played in the League Cup last year. That might mean a call up for Matt Macey, the 23 year old Englishman who has found himself in the bench in a couple games in 2017.

Against Koln, Wenger opted for Nacho Monreal on the left of the back 3. This was clearly to give him more game time, to get him accustomed to the new position. One which he has actually performed well in. However, I would prefer he was moved to one side for the League Cup game. There is not much he can learn against Doncaster.

Instead of Monreal, let’s see Rob Holding play on the left side of the 3. Inside him Per Mertesacker and on the right Calum Chambers. I really like Chambers, and think he has been unfairly treated at times at Arsenal. I would like to see him get a good run in the side in both the League Cup and Europa League.

At right full back, Arsenal do have a little issue. Mathieu Debuchy surely would have got a run out against Koln, but his pre-match comments saw him promptly dropped. I do not expect him to get a chance in the League Cup either. That means Arsenal either stick with Hector Bellerin, or give one of the youngsters a chance.

Concerned about burn-out, Bellerin will not play (he was a surprise starter against Koln. Clearly a last minute decision). Having played at right wing back pre-season, Reiss Nelson will surely be given his chance to impress.

Whilst Nelson plays much more advanced for the youth team, he will have to accept a bit more of a defensive role in the current set up. Against Doncaster, however, he should not be doing much defending.

His opposing wing back position will be Ainsley Maitland-Niles.

I am a little concerned with the development of Maitland-Niles. He is a talented kid who in the youths played central midfield, then when on loan on the wings. Pre-season he was at centre back, against Koln he played left wing back.

Wenger and the coaching team need to decide on his best position, and play him there. Personally, I think he is a central midfielder, but with senior players in need of match sharpness set to start in the middle of the park, he will find himself out wide for the forceable.

In the middle of the park, Mohamed Elneny will be the senior pro. With Francis Coquelin out, Wenger might be tempted to rest Elneny, as he can not afford more injuries in the middle of the park. On the flip side, Elneny needs the match sharpness. No point not playing him ,then when he is called upon he is match rusty.

Alongside him will hopefully be Jack Wilshere as the no-longer-Arsenal-youngster continues his rehabilitation back into the first team.

Wilshere looked sharp and bright in his cameo against Koln. The more games he plays, the more minutes under his belt, before Christmas, the better position he will be in to fully help the first team as winter hits.

Alex Iwobi would have been a shoe-in for the playmaker position behind the strikers. But having played most of the game against Chelsea, he has earnt himself a rest.

Instead of Iwobi, Alexis Sanchez will surely get a full 90 minutes.

Having missed the first two weeks of the season out injured, Arsenal have taken their time with the Chilean.

He played 15 minutes against Bournemouth, a full 90 minutes against Koln, and 24 minutes against Chelsea. With Arsenal not playing WBA until Monday, a full 90 minutes against Doncaster will prepare him to return to the starting XI for the Premier League 5 days later.

Ahead / alongside Sanchez will be Theo Walcott. He needs some game time, and is struggling to fit in to the new formation. Whilst some will prefer to see the likes of Eddie Nketiah or Joe Willock (or is it Chris still with us?) get a run out. But this is one of those situations where the match sharpness of a senior player is more important than the development of a youngster.

Likewise, up top, Olivier Grioud will surely also start. Like with the Walcott situation, the likes of Nketiah and Akpom might feel a bit miffed that they will not get a run out, but Giroud needs to play. The best Plan B in Europe, making him Plan A in the Europa League and League Cup will ensure he is sharp.

Get the balance of the time right and Arsenal could end up at Wembley. Get it wrong and we could end up in another Sheffield Wednesday away embarrassment.

So my team to face Doncaster:


Chambers Mertesacker Holding

Nelson Elneny Wilshere Maitlan-Niles

Sanchez Walcott



The Arsenal and Me – Dave’s Story

I’m a northerner and have lived in Doncaster since 1975,why Arsenal you may ask? My grandad though from Mansfield lived in Finchley during the war and he passed his love of Arsenal on to my old man who thankfully passed it on to me.

My early games were away at Sheff Utd/Leeds and even an FA Cup semi final at Hillsborough before my dad took me to Highbury for a 1-1 draw in the opening home game of the 80/81 season.

I’ve so much to be grateful to him for, leaving the family on Boxing Day to take me and New Years Day too at the time I took it for granted. A family railcard was £10 for him and £1 for me and my mates (who I still go with to this day).

When I was 15 five of us used to travel to games alone with the help of Mars bar wrappers (free national express coach travel) and of course, on occasion, to northern aways, with a platform ticket and travel for 2p.

Hardly anyone wore colours and I wish it was still like that. It was 83/84 season and I loved the casual clothing and still do (wish I’d kept some originals as it’s worth a fortune). There was a time I couldn’t imagine missing a game and if I did I had to listen of midweek sports special, hardly any football was on TV so it was the only way of knowing the score.

From 1988 I had a season ticket in either the east lower or Clockend. What I do miss is the sheer uncertainty of getting off a train at an away and having to have your wits firmly about you at times it was “kill or be killed” and it was an exciting and at times frightening times.

Many friends back then I still have now and I wouldn’t swap Paris/Benfica/spurs cup semi’s/Anfield / league cup 87 final for anything. I can still recall starting 11’s from say 1988 but would have no idea about the 1st game of this season.

I adored Highbury and a major regret is my kids will never go there. I gave up my season ticket after a couple of seasons at the bowl and have no intention of going back particularly under this regime. Stan , Ivan , Arsene et al aren’t for me but I’ll forever cherish the friends I have made and I will always support the Arsenal and will always care but for me it’s just not the same anymore.


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