“One repays a teacher badly if one remains only a pupil. And why, then, should you not pluck at my laurels?” From Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Nietzsche.
Yes Master and Pupil meet again and the former is feeling mighty and on top of the crest of the wave of sweet success. But Arteta knows his former master inside out and he has an almost fully fit squad at his disposal this time round (only Partey is unavailable). So I expect us to give Pep’s boys a good game tomorrow afternoon. Mikel will need to invoke that spirit of last season’s FA Cup semi-final, when the team were just magnificent.
I think the big picture will be similar to that game. Arsenal will need to sit back and be disciplined and then play the ball out of the back with confidence and quick, incisive passing. There will be opportunities for our attackers with balls over the top too. We may even dare to press them high at times and take the game to them, but in general I expect Arteta to make us hard to beat and play a few tricks on his former master.
I have a feeling that Laca will get a start again. He should be fully fit and rested and be able to give the defenders something to think about. Auba will relish another game against the team he scored such a good brace against in the FA Cup semi-final, and I think we will need Laca’s ad Auba’s experience in this game.
This should also be a good game for the return of Holding who just like Laca has been rested for a few games. Big Gab has regained his bounce and form again and seems to be the most natural partner for Holdingho. Tierney or Cedric may get a start and either of them would do a good job. Still Tierney has that little bit extra needed for a game like this.
In midfield it will be Granit plus either Elneny or Ceballos. Again, Elneny has been rested for a while and I expect him to start now. We need his discipline and tidiness, and he is the more natural partner for Xhaka. Ceballos will be a great option from the bench, but Arteta may well start him once more. We just will have to see.
Up-front we need invention and fearlessness and that is exactly what both Saka and ESR have to offer. Maybe Arteta starts with Odegaard instead of ESR, but I reckon it is more likely that Emile gets to run between the lines and give us those much needed short breathing spaces when the relentless Blue Mancunians are all over us.