Games after an international break are always difficult and especially so when the first game back is away from home.
International players return late in the week and have tired legs from playing for their nation once or twice and from travelling to all sorts of places. There is little time to get back into training with the team and get collectively into ‘the zone’ again. If on top of this the team has to travel up-north in cold and damp October, there is a good chance the performance will be below par, especially if we have to play a team who don’t have too many travelling internationals in their squad and so have had time to prepare for the arrival of the Gunners.
I would prefer for Emery to give most just returned internationals a rest and to start with a combination of non-international first-team players and youth players. However, I do believe we need to play one quality first team player in every area – GK-Defence-Midfield-Attack – as to not lose our shape and confidence too much.
I am not sure whether Torreira played and travelled a lot for Uruguay, but I know that Xhaka did and so I would prefer for my favourite midfielder to be rested. If LT11 did indeed play and travel a lot, I reckon he needs to be rested too as there is too much risk for fatigue and injury. Maybe it is time to give Ainsley the deep midfield role but then put two fellow central midfielders next to him, for extra support. Three midfielders in a line, or two slightly in front of a deeper laying midfielder, seems to be the way forward for us.
At the back I reckon we need to play Luiz, whether he travelled and played or not (again not sure whether he did). It must be time to start Tierney and Bels cannot be far away from a start either. But with Chambers playing so well at the moment, it really seems to make sense to start with him at RB. I assume that Big Sok could do with a rest and that Robbo is ready to rock and roll, so would like to see him start instead of the Greek lover of wisdom.
Up-front I would love to see Ozil and we need Auba to start, simple as that. With Nelson out till November, this is another chance for Sakakakaka to shine. Martinelli and (hopefully fully recovered) Laca can come on after sixty minutes and replace either of these three starters.
For me the team below would give us good balance, freshness and aggression and quality in all areas to blunt the Blades on Monday:
But that is just me…. how would you like to line-up the team on Monday?