Is the Leeds game a last-chance saloon for some Arsenal fringe players?

When I’m getting a ticket for 9 Pound it’s safe to say Arsenal are aware of the perception of the League Cup.

Our opponents on Tuesday are 17th in the Premier League with just one victory, and with a few injuries they are likely to rest key players.

It’s a competition we traditionally used to give opportunities to our youngsters, but will not this year, it’s our most likely route to silverware and a route back into Europe.

Regardless of our startling line up (I do expect some rotation) it’s a low profile setting for what could be one of the biggest games of some Gunners’ careers.

It’s zero exaggeration to say for some it could be their last chance to prove they belong at the club.

Eddie Nketiah has been part of our academy since the age of 16. Calum Chambers moved to North London 7 years ago. Neither can make a League matchday squad at the moment even when managers can pick 9 names on their bench.

To put that into perspective Kolasinac was a substitute on Friday!

When a player whose employers have been trying to get off the wage bill for a year is ahead of you in the pecking order, you know your future is in jeopardy.

It’s long been accepted that Eddie will be elsewhere this time next year with his contract due to expire.

When you’re chasing a goal and Nketiah and Balogun are sat at home, that’s telling.

Balogun has gone from starting at Brentford to not starting again, even against Wimbledon.

Where Balogun can be loaned out for his development though, Eddie is running out of time to prove he’s worth the deal he wants.

It’s ironic that Leeds are the opponents that offer him a rare chance to get some goals, given that remains the only team where the 22-year-old had a productive scoring streak.

Calum Chambers is experiencing a bigger fall from grace. Despite plagued by injuries, this is still a man who has played 120 times for the Gunners. As things stand, he’s another talent scheduled to leave in the summer without us getting a fee.

It was assumed the Gunners would trigger a one-year option, If for nothing else but to protect value on an asset.

Popular in the dressing room, it seemed Arteta was giving Chambers a chance at right back, but the 26-year-old was last involved in a squad as an unused sub at home to Wimbledon.

Say that out loud, you start two of the three first Prem fixtures but then are not trusted to feature against lower League opposition.

Without the Europa League we can no longer offer fringe players the opportunity to prove themselves, so midweek could be that rare possibility.

That’s not guaranteed though.

As he showed in the 2nd round, Arteta won’t gamble too much with his selections, earmarking the domestic cups as the only way to win some silverware and put some smiles on faces.

The Spaniard has a history of freezing out individuals the moment he thinks you don’t suit his ethos.

If you’re not in his thought process at the weekend it can’t be assumed your starting in the cups.

Currently Chambers appears to be 5th choice CB and 3rd choice RB.

Even if the back 4 who started against Villa are rested for Leicester, Holding and Mari seem the stand-in centre backs while Cedric has been our back-up right back.

The only hope for Chambers is that Tavares won’t be risked in the Carabao Cup while Tierney is injured, which means the left back spot is up for grabs.

Cedric can play in that position which would free up Chambers to come in on the right.

If our boss instead chooses Kolasinac at left back, then Chambers should start speaking to other clubs.

With Laca and Auba once again starting together, the temptation might be to start both on the bench but I’m not sure you can trust Eddie to be our sole striker?

Given that all parties have accepted that he won’t be extending his deal there’s is no reason to give playing time just for the sake of the player. Laca hasn’t had many minutes this campaign and can offer more in that role.

Elsewhere, Leno is our cup keeper and lucky to still be that after his outbursts to the German media every time he’s on international duty.

Given his boss’ track record I’m surprised he’s tolerated that.

As already mentioned, Mari has been in recent squads so will be eager to make an impression.

I’m still waiting for Maitland-Niles to play like the midfielder that exists only in his own mind.

Martinelli shouldn’t have to keep proving himself but will get another chance to shine.

Leno – GK

Cedric – LB, Mari – CB, Holding- CB, Chambers -RB

DM – Elneny, Maitland-Niles

Martinelli LM, Odegaard AM, Pepe RM

Laca – Striker


Be kind in the comments


Tags Nicolas Pepe Nketiah


  1. I never understood why Calum has not started Wimbledon. Better than Cedric in every aspect of the game, only younger, verstaile and home grown.
    The games he under performed, was a whole team off and he had a really good run at the end of last season.
    For a backup, he is good, may be even too good.

  2. That looks like a good side. I definitely want to see Martinelli, Holding, Odregaard, Pepe, Chambers on the lineup

    1. Rotation is essential for all concerned including our “fringe” players.With this in mind I suggest the following 3-4-3 set up.
      Chambers, Holding, Mari
      Odegaard,Martinelli, Pepe.

      Good balance down the left side without having to play anyone in the wrong position.Holding or Odegaard to Captain the side.

  3. For Sead and Cedric, they should be shown the way out, good luck to them but they are third choice at least.
    Eddie, I felt he can do the 2nd striker, leftwing role, but he reportedly rejected an offer, so either sell in Jan if possible or he should never be playing afterwards unless really needed.

  4. They still have more than five months to get a contract extension offer from Arsenal

    I think Chambers is the second-choice RB due to his height, versatility and homegrown status. Whereas Soares and Bellerin could be sold in the summer, unless they can play better than Tierney and Tavares on the left wing

    About Nketiah, he should’ve watched Mallen, who has similar stature and is currently struggling as a striker in a top European league. We can’t expect this striker type to always play well as a CF, but maybe they will score more goals from the left wing

    1. Not sure mate
      Cedrics on the bench not Chambers
      That could indicate who is ahead In the pecking order

        1. Have been researching that but he seems fit
          Against Wimbledon Cedric played not Chambers
          Seems simply Chambers is behind him

  5. Yes the team you put out won’ be far off it. With out games against the likes of SK Sturm Graz, Midtjyllands, Ludogorets, Anorthosis, Mura or AC Omonia it makes it harder for our super reserves to show case their “brilliant” talent and secure new contract extensons. Although 4-5 of the super subs have life long Home Grown immunity injuries have been known to happen at Arsenal. The greatest threat comes from serial financial dopers PSG +Man City with the Saudis FC at Newcastle also circling eager to see the likes of Nketiah, Niles, Nelson, Mari Chambers Holding + Cedric strut their stuff. But what if we strike Accrington Stanley and Bradford Park Avenue in our first two rounds of the FA Cup? Nope Having 5-6 squaddies back up is too important. Oil clubs can leave our squaddies alone.

  6. Laca was spent following his Villa exit, and
    although he probably needs game time I can’t
    see MA playing a different squad @ LC this

    El Neny….AMN

  7. you would think that after receiving a King’s ransom in the off-season, our current manager had been afforded the luxury of an exceedingly long leash, especially considering the average age of his new recruits…so it makes me wonder why he’s been fearful to do the very things that one simply must do when navigating a “rebuild”, like being more tactically flexible and letting your selection process, especially for Cup affairs, better reflect this supposed “transitional” phase

    I get the idea of developing a Best 11, especially without European footballing, but when it comes to Cup affairs he simply can’t pursue the same short-sighted course of action that he opted for in that horribly one-sided WestBrom2 match…if the long-term future of the club is of the upmost importance, these types of decisions must better reflect this presumption

    lets face it, Arteta has been fairly poor when it comes to asset management and the development of our most promising young assets…Saka has regressed a bit, ESR has performed exceedingly well in spite of our manager, Tierney has become incredibly one dimensional and some, like Saliba and Mavro, aren’t even in North London and might never come…as for those a little bit farther down the prospect pecking order, most haven’t seen the pitch with the first team and many on loan have not progressed, except Guendo

    so in order to rectify this situation it’s imperative that Arteta roll out a starting 11 against Leeds that shows that he understands that the long-term viability of this club is far more important than his own selfish concerns about his future employment or the potential fan reaction should things go sideways as a result of these pertinent yet tough decisions

  8. It’s time to shite Marti!

    I wish MA is smart enough to win all the titles and focus on finishing in the top4 at least!

  9. I doubt MA will start with Laca. He will probably rest him after the Villa game to be fresh for the Leicester match, although he will be on the bench in case needed. Also I feel Chambers is more versatile than Soares and needs to start also because of his height. My line up:
    Chambers Holding Mari Kola
    Elneny AMN
    Martinelli Ode Pepe

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