This weekend was the first time this season that Arsenal have had a full bill of health in the run-up to, and including, the matchday, and the performance was thoroughly impressive.
It was announced in midweek that we had no injury absences heading into the North London Derby, but there was still a few question marks on Mikel Arteta’s selection, but there was no shocks per se once the line-up was confirmed.
The Spaniard named Aaron Ramsdale in goal, despite a number of reports claiming that Bernd Leno had been promised a return to the starting line-up for the clash with Spurs, but his place in the team shouldn’t have been debated after his recent performances had shown him thoroughly impressing whilst not conceding a single goal.
Our back four picked itself however, as did Thomas Partey’s role, while many were unhappy with the return of Granit Xhaka to the line-up, having been absent for our recent string of wins.
Emile Smith Rowe, Martin Odegaard and Bukayo Saka took up the remaining three open spots, with both Nicolas Pepe and Alexandre Lacazette overlooked, and I can’t help but believe that this trio will be the long-term choice first-choice selection depending on form.
It’s likely that it will be rare that we will have an empty physio room of course, but watching the team interchange, press in numbers, and work so hard for both the manager and the team was simply a massive joy to watch, and I certainly hope that this exact line-up is in the manager’s mind consistently this season, and should they XI remain fit, I wouldn’t be shocked if we could mount a serious challenge for a top four finish.
Do Pepe, Lokonga, Leno or Lacazette deserve to be regulars in the first-team?