So it will be all change tonight in the EFL cup against Nottingham Forest. I seriously cannot do with all these league cup name changes, not that it should matter one tiny bit but for some reason it really grates on me. I always enjoy the league cup games, especially the early rounds as it is a great chance to see some players who are in need of games. I mean variety is the spice of life and all that.
In years gone by we would be packing the team with 17-19 year olds, players looking to get a taste of first team football. This time we have internationals struggling to get minutes on the pitch. I know absolutely nothing about modern day Nottingham forest apart from the fact that they have old boys Henri Lansbury, Armand Traoré and new signing Nicklas Bendtner.
I had a look at their last game and they rested all of the Arsenal old boys and they went on to lose the game at home. Not sure why they would priortise this game, assuming that was the case. Maybe manager Philippe Montanier wants the ex Arsenal lads to go out and prove a point tonight, I don’t know but it would seem logical that gaining promotion should come first, honestly I don’t know.
It is pretty easy second guessing the team for the most part. Gabriel should start his first game since his injury during pre season. He couldn’t have timed his return better could he? You cannot expect Gabriel to be perfect tonight given the lack of football under his Brazilian belt but it’s important he changes the direction of his Arsenal career, after a positive start his performance levels have started to deteriorate a little. He was given a chance to oust Per Mertesacker from the starting eleven but mistakes kept creeping into his game and those mistakes were often costly to the team. Since last season Arsene has added a very promising young centre back in Rob Holding and has also spent big money on Mustafi so Gabby really has his work cut out. Speaking of Holding, he will play tonight and he must feel a little hard done by to be dropped from the starting line up after an impressive start to the season. Going from a regular starter for Bolton to a fringe player must be difficult but patience is important for a player of his age at a big club like Arsenal. These are the games where he needs to show he can perform when called upon and no doubt he will be called upon as the season progresses.
The midfield area is one that should excite Arsenal fans tonight. I’m sure a lot of Arsenal fans would have Xhaka and Elneny as our first team starters so it’s funny to see them playing in this competition, it just goes to show the strength of our squad in that area especially, I am interested to see how those two play together. Who will be tasked with playing deeper and getting forward. From what I have seen of them I’d imagine Elneny has the engine to play box to box and get into the opposition penalty area, take shots and get back and defend while Xhaka loves to get on the ball from deep. But Arsene said that he sees Xhaka as a box to box player with a good engine, so no idea what he will do there.
Who plays in the ‘Ozil’ position will be very interesting. If the decision is based on seniority then Akpom could be selected thus pushing Oxlade-Chamberlain in that role. A role that does not particularly suit him in my opinion. I’d much rather see someone like Zelalem play in that role with the Ox playing wide but I’m not sure that will happen.
Mean Lean’s Predicted Line Up:
As I said I hope Ox plays on the flank, like Gabriel he needs to have a good game here and he doesn’t have the excuse of injury. He is a player who excites when he is on his game and he seems such a great character. I really hope he can turn it around because he is the type of player and person you want in the squad. It’s difficult for him though because he is a player who needs to do something special to affect games yet he needs to keep it simple in order to regain confidence. If I could give one person the man of the match award before a ball has been kicked it would be him as I feel he needs it the most from the squad.
Anyway have to keep this short as I am ill and need some sleep before the game kicks off. Hopefully we can continue where we left off at Hull even if the personnel will be different.
Post match stuff later.