These Europa League games are a godsend for Arteta as well as us fans. An island of peace, bounty and beauty in a sea of discontent and shortsightedness. The remaining two games are inconsequential as we have already qualified for the next round, but they still offer something to look forward to. Because what is football other than us enjoying the ball being kicked around in clever and beautiful ways with us hopefully winning in the end? Live in the moment and enjoy what we experience today.
Arteta has a chance to try out some new players and to play some of his fringe stars v Rapid Vienna. He will also be able to make five subs and so he really is presented with a great learning opportunity for himself as well as a great number of youngsters. With the U23 not playing till 18 December, he can also pick some players from the strong squad that beat nr2 in the league, Derby County.
Your guess is as good as mine regarding who will play but I reckon it will be something like this (ignore my initial thought of Saliba possibly starting…. he is unavailable!):
Likely starts for Mari and Mustafi and AMN may also start, but I expect him to play on Sunday. Elneny could do with a game (for sixty minutes as he will be needed at the urinal as well), and it would be good to see ESR in ‘the hole’ again. Nelson and Pepe are likely starters and I guess Eddie will start, unless Mikel wants him to play against the Spuddies as well. In that case, Balogun may get a start and that would be great.
Players to come on will vary from Xhaka or AMN to stabilise our midfield, and then a number of the youngsters who shone against Derby: the likes of Taylor-Hart, Nikolaj Moller, Ben Cottrell and Miguel Azeez. Maybe Arteta will even go all adventurous and play all of them from the start?
I guess for most of us goes that the more youngsters he plays the more we will look forward to the game. Still, a little bit of stability is required so the inclusion of Elneny, Mustafi, Mari and Ceballos would make sense imho.
Tonight we can forget about everything and just enjoy the very essence of our favourite hobby: 11 men doing the shirt proud with adventurous and attacking football without a care in the world. Bliss.
Song to be played before the boys leave the dressing room (is there a more energetic song?):
Let’s show those Viennese Waltzers what ‘Rapid’ really means! 🙂