In 11 days from now FC Vorskla, the Ukrainian football team from Poltava, a city about 1700 miles from London and 500 miles south of Moscow and with a population of about 300k, will visit the Home of Football. I know that before then we will visit the Barcodes, but it is interesting to start thinking of who will play in our first UEFA League game this season.
With further games coming in the League Cup, the squad will start to get used properly now, and everyone will get a chance to shine under Emery. For the likes of Holding, Leno, Elneny, etc this is much needed. There are also young players who will want to take this chance to play some proper football and maybe get closer to the first team.
At the back it is a no brainer that Leno, Holding and Lichtsteiner will get starts. What could also happen is that Emery will now be making the swap in goalkeepers many of us have been anticipating. So instead of Leno in goal against Vorskla, it could be Cech (and then Leno to start v Newcastle United), but I reckon Emery will try the German out in the cup competitions first. On the left we have a bit of a problem due to injuries to Kola and AMN… so bring on Osei-Tutu who impressed me. More a right back than a left back, apparently, but I have a feeling that he will be okay whichever side he is played on (possibly Tolaji Bola will get a chance instead, though). Next to Holding it should be Mavropanos: the CB pairing of the future?!
In midfield there is still a lot of competition with the likes of Willock, Smith-Rowe and Sheaf knocking hard on the manager’s door. Elneny clearly has to start and Torreira also could do with a full game. Having said that, I reckon LT11 will from now on be partnered with GX34 in most of our PL games, and Guendouzi will make the shift to the cup competitions (well that would make sense to me). I would love to see how Elneny and Guendouzi would work together in the DM pivot, even though my preference for the latter is to play higher up in the hole (as his defending is at best a work in progress).
In the hole I expect Iwobi to play or the very talented Smith-Rowe. As the Nigerian can play also on the left and Smith-Rowe also has that great drive through the middle with the ball, I am hoping Smith-Rowe will start in the ‘NR10’ position (interchanging positions with Alex regularly of course).
Iwobi on the right seems inevitable and the right man to pick, and Welbeck should have a first start too on the left, with Nketiah to lead the line.
Ah, we have lots of options and I for one am really looking forward to this game. Who would you pick v Vorskla?