Weakened team? No chance! by Dan Smith
I don’t understand what I been reading on social media, with some gooners suggesting we play a weakened team against Sheffield United. Yes, we are in the middle of a congested schedule and the amount of injuries shows that the squad isn’t 100 percent fit.
The likes of Auba, Mustafi and Bellerin have started every game since the restart, but when we talk about resting them, resting them for what? We are 9th in the League, 9 points off fifth making our midweek game not really important. The FA Cup on the other hand is a chance to win a trophy, an opportunity to end a horrible season on a high.
If you feel the need to rotate the team (and the idea of 5 subs was to help with that) then do that on Wednesday night. If you can’t beat Norwich with a few fringe players starting, then you have serious problems.
The Sheffield United game is so much more important. Let’s say he went with a weak line up and we lost, am I meant to accept that if it means we go on to beat a team bottom of the League? Why sacrifice a chance of silverware for that? For the outside chance of finishing 7th or 8th? Which has the same reward as winning the Cup.
I go as far as saying if Arteta loses on Sunday due to fielding his second 11, that’s a sackable offence. I also want that dressing room so embarrassed by their current position they demand we take this cup seriously, as it’s the only way they can make us proud again.
Here is my choice of today’s Starting XI against Sheffield United…
Martinez – My feeling has always been can he handle the expectation of playing for a club our size. This makes this a crucial game in his career. It’s one thing keeping a clean sheet in a League game with nothing at stake, what about the pressure of knockout football?
Sokratis (right back)- Arteta played the Greek defender at full back in earlier rounds. There are worries that Bellerin has lost his pace after a serious injury, so he’s not someone you want to over play.
I saw at Southampton our manager wanting his team to get used to, at times, switching to a back three. Xakha was going that on Thursday but if the left back is bombing forward you could ask Sokratis to do the same.
Mustafi (CB) – Yes you could bring Luiz back but how often do we keep a clean sheet? Any confidence or momentum we can take at the moment we should try and build on. Mustafi and Holding have earnt the right to continue that partnership.
Holding (CB) – you sensed he needed that performance in midweek for his confidence. I do think criticism of him has been harsh as he’s had a couple of nasty injuries. I don’t think his quality ever been in doubt, but fitness is the issue.
Kolasinac (Lb) – Tierney went off with cramp at Saint Mary’s but he’s a player you don’t want to over play anyway due to his injury record, so logically Kolasinac comes in.
Xhaka (CM)- He returns, and we win and suddenly gooners realise his importance tactically. Again, any momentum in terms of partnerships let’s build on that.
Ceballos (CM) – one of Arteta’s tactical tweaks has been to drop the midfielder deeper into a Pirlo role. You need physicality against Sheffield United but I’m in no hurry to rush Guendouzi back.
Willock (AM) – Ozil was starting all the time before the break so something is going on. I’d rather see him come back against Norwich where we should have most possession. This isn’t his type of game as United will try and bully us. Willock and Ceballos could keep switching positions.
Auba (LM) – I don’t like him on the left but his manager does. What I noticed on Thursday though is (even when leading) Auba was finding ways to make it a front two. So tactically we don’t stay in a strict 4-2-3-1. You want to rest him? Do it in the next game.
Pepe (RM) – My other option is Reiss Nelson although I still don’t trust him for such a big game.
Maybe start him midweek?
Laca – Striker
Suddenly Eddie is ahead of him in the pecking order making this a big game for Laca. I just think this is a big game in our season, and it’s asking to a lot for a youngster to be leading the line. I’m going for experience.
Do you think we should play our strongest team against Sheffield United?