Our game v Sheffield United falls in the middle of the two Europa League legs and I have not got much of a clue what team Arteta will select and how much priority he will give to it. We need a win of course as we can still finish strongly in the league with a good run from today till the last game of the season, but with a number of key injuries and injury-doubts it may be hard to achieve it, even against the lowly Blades. However, as Eris said yesterday, psychology is important too and we need to get back to winning ways.
The big challenge for Arteta is to put up a team today that is not just good on paper but actually gels well and gets the job done. We need intensity, high tempo and yet calm at the back. Easier said than done. Our biggest problem is getting the attack to work as a unit, as is reflected in the poor tally of goals Arsenal have scored in the league (although improving recently). The chemistry between the very talented bunch of Auba, Laca, Pepe and Willian is very poor; for some reason they just do not work together. With Martin and Emile being injury doubts, I would imagine that at least three of these experienced players will start today. We will need a bit of youthful zest and hunger, and hopefully Saka can bring this. But maybe we need more and is this the time for Arteta to start Martinelli… or even Azeez. Freshen things up a bit with the aim to keep a number of players fresh and on their toes for Thursday’s return game against Slavia Prague.
Anyway, I don’t think there is much more to say about our game tonight, so here is the preferred lineup:
I think we need to spare one of our full backs, so Chambers should start. Partey needs a break and we need him to be fresh and focussed on Thursday, so a start for Elneny (who is much better when started in a game rather than being thrown in at the end) would seem right. Martinelli has been chomping at the bit for a while so should start and yes I would play Azeez in the hole today. Laca loves working with these sort of players but I am happy for Auba to be started as CF instead: either will do. After sixty minutes the likes of Auba and Pepe can come on to finish the game off for us. All to play for – COYRRGs!