Those who are hopeful to see a lot of youngsters against Preston on Saturday will get disappointed. The FA Cup is Arsene’s Cup and he will field a strong team against the beautifully named Lilywhites. We also will want to keep momentum after a strong comeback against the Cherries and a big game in Wales following our FA Cup game. This is not a good time to play a weakened side and hope for the best at Deepdale: just like Man City did tonight against the Hammers, we need to play with a high tempo, passion and strong focus.
This is the side I reckon Wenger will field tomorrow:
Koz, Bellerin, Sanchez and Ozil to be rested or start on the bench. Holding to join Mustafi and Gabriel to play on the right. Gibbs is still out so another start for Nacho, I reckon. Rambo and Xhaka to get another chance to get used to each other and hopefully a start for either Perez or Welbeck on the left, depending on fitness. Ollie CF, Iwobi in the hole and Ox on the other wing.
I have been to three matches this season – Liverpool at home and Newcastle United and Sheffield Wednesday away – and have watched most other games on TV. I reckon we have a good chance to win silverware again this season, and our main focus should be on winning the title. I also believe that Wenger is not finished developing this team further and will add quality if and when possible.
It is clear, though, that a strong first eleven is coming to the fore: Cech, Bellerin, Nacho, Koz, Coquelin, Santi, Ozil, Alexis, Rambo are all top quality first team players. When all are fit, Arsene can pick from Giroud, Theo, Ox, Wilshere, Ospina, Gibbs, BFG, Gabriel, Debuchy, Rosicky, Flamini, Arteta and Welbeck to complete his team and rotate players when necessary. That is a pretty fine squad to pick from right now, and let us hope the medical team will get on top of the injury issues rather sooner than later so we can make full use of these players during the remainder of the season.
But what will our team look like in two years’ time?
We have the money now to keep our best players and to add top quality international players as well as good, experienced PL players, annually. I reckon we have a fine squad right now that can win us silverware. But, as you will have noticed, I think we have two positions for which we are likely to seek new players: CB and in attack. Furthermore, the likes of Rosicky, Flamini, Arteta and the BFG will probably have left the team by the summer of 2017, and will also need replacing, either from within (youth) or through buying experienced PL/European players.
I have no doubt that Giroud and Theo will still be at Arsenal in two years’ time, but I am less sure that Welbeck will make it. In fact, I would be very (pleasantly) surprised if Danny would really make it at Arsenal, but that is for another time/post. Both Theo and Giroud are important team players, and Alexis is a versatile attacker who can play anywhere up-front, but Wenger will in likelihood reinforce our attack with another star player during the coming summer.
Furthermore, I am a big fan of the BFG but don’t think he will be a first choice player anymore in 2017. There is a good chance that Wenger will make Koz and Gabriel our preferred CB pairing, but part of me believes Wenger will go for another ‘organiser of defence’ rather than two full on CBs ala Koz and Gabriel.
I have some ideas who Wenger should go for but do not want to influence the discussion too much, so will keep these to myself for now.
So, for just a bit of fun, my eight questions to you are:
What will be our best eleven in 2017 from the currently available players (assuming everybody is fit and nobody is bought between now and then)?
Being able to spend about £45m in 2016, and then again in 2017, who would you try to buy to add to our strongest first eleven and why?
Where would you play a fully fit Jack Wilshere?
Will Wojciech Szczesny be our nr.1 goalkeeper if it is up to you?
Which ex Gunner, if anyone, would you love to be back at Arsenal?
Is Steve Bould the best man to be Arsene’s right hand man; if not, who should replace him?
Do you want Arsene Wenger still to be in charge in 2017?
Do you think Chuba Akpom will make it into our best eleven by 2017?