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Our New British Core

The British core remains only as a memory of the image of the group sat at a desk, resplendent in club gear, simultaneously signing their contracts. Overshadowed by Arsene Wenger who had masterminded their presence in the first team, it was meant to represent a new, homegrown dawn for Arsenal.

One by one they fell by the wayside, leaving probably the least likely to remain as the sole representative of this golden generation. Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott, Kieran Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson could have potentially formed the spine of Arsenal for years to come, but thanks to varying reasons – some unlucky and some simply because they lacked the minerals to fight at the very top – they were sold from Arsenal.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was the first to go, expressing an interest to shake off the comfort zone that saw him make 25-30 appearances but never quite hold down a regular spot. His flexibility was one of the reasons that ‘The Ox’ never quite put his stamp on our eleven, and another was his maddening inconsistency. With one game he would slalom past a handful of challenges and succeed with a netbuster. The next game he would lose the ball like it was a personal hobby. He moved to Liverpool to progress but thanks to injury – another frequent blight on his time here – he currently stands in the same spot he had as a Gunner – bit-part utility man.

Jack Wilshere carried perhaps the most expectation as a player. His virtuoso display as a teenager against the best midfield in the world, Barcelona, exhibited the ceiling his talents had, but the diminutive baller never scaled those heights again. Injuries curtailed his ambitions and his time as an Arsenal man, and he is now a Hammer.

The rest, aside from Aaron Ramsey, were ousted from the squad as we found superior replacements. Time had seen us move on but these players didn’t match the step count, and they lagged behind.

Fast forward to the present day and we now have another batch of homegrown players. The majority of these kids have been schooled by the Academy and are steeped in ‘The Arsenal Way.’ There is a big difference between the two groups of players though.

The original gaggle of players had already had a number of seasons under their belt before their talent had shone through to lead people to declare them our core.

The current group? They are just starting on their journey – and they are making waves in the first team ahead of some truly established international stars.

Wilshere, Gibbs etc of course had some truly special players in their midst, but they had their first team spot more or less made theirs whenever they were fit for the most part.

Whereas Jo Willock, Bukayo Saka, Reiss Nelson, Rob Holding, Hector Bellerin, Calum Chambers, Emile Smith-Rowe, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Eddie Nketiah have had some imposing figures in front of them, and have still established themselves as contenders for their respective spots.

British Core

Well, to varying degrees anyway. Jo Willock and Rob Holding are probably the closest to having their spots tied down, and both have serious competition in their way – which makes their progress even more spectacular.

What is evident is that these kids really DO have the chance to become the rigid spine that Arsenal have needed for some time. Time though, is the only true yardstick for this group. It is only as matches and a few seasons go by that we will see if these special talents really are as good as they appear to be – and if they can go on to forge themselves as homegrown Arsenal legends – something that we haven’t had for quite some time.

Over to you boys.

West Brom Vs Arsenal Match Preview

Our 3-2 midweek win over Crystal Palace was only our third away win of our Premier League campaign. Now we have another away game hot on the heels of this victory, as we go to The Hawthorns to take on West Bromwich Albion.

Our recent record at the Baggies is a poor one. We’ve lost the last two visits there, and we’re sure to find the same tactics this time around, despite the change in manager. Alan Pardew doesn’t normally rely on constricting formations to get results, but he is also aware of how to frustrate Arsenal, so we can expect two rigid banks of four standing in front of our attack for the majority.

In terms of our attack, with Olivier Giroud out until at least January, Alexandre Lacazette will most likely lead the line again. Perhaps though, rotation may come into play with another midweek game on the horizon in the shape of a crunch match against Chelsea. If that is the case, then Danny Welbeck may get the nod to play against the baggies and former teammate, Kieran Gibbs.

Midfield shouldn’t see too many changes, but again with the Chelsea game looming, Francis Coquelin and Mohamed Elneny could relieve either Jack Wilshere or Granit Xhaka so they remain fresh for the blues game.

In defence, we’ll again be missing Nacho Monreal. We have a few choices to fill the gap, and Calum Chambers did his chances no harm with his performance in the win over Crystal Palace. He may have been caught out a couple of times by the trickery of Wilfried Zaha, but on the whole he performed well facing the threat.

Alan Pardew has been experimenting in recent games with his attack and has played two up top on occasion, with Jay Rodriguez and Salomon Rondon starting together. This game will see them play on the counter and rely on set plays to trouble us. After all, why mess with a winning formula? That would most likely mean that Rondon will get the nod. Matt Phillips gives them pace on the break, and they will employ either Claudio Yacob, Grzegorz Krychowiak or a combination of both to sit in front of the backline. Craig Dawson has also recently returned to give them an added threat in the air.

Chelsea and Liverpool both won yesterday, keeping the gap between us and them a healthy one. We need to stay primed for when they do stumble, and the only way to do that is to keep winning. The win over Palace midweek was deserved, despite the close scoreline. If we’re honest though, if we failed to pick up maximum points from Crystal Palace and West Brom, do we really deserve a higher spot in the league?

We need to show we are worthy of a top four spot. Just because it was ours for so long, doesn’t mean we automatically qualify for it or we deserve it. The league level has definitely risen this season, and we need to show we have improved with it.

We do have the return to form of Alexis to help us, although how long this particular service is available to us is unknown. I think we should sell him if an offer comes in, but only if a player of the ilk of Riyad Mahrez or Julian Draxler were to come in to fill the gap left by the departing Chilean. We need to use Alexis while we have him, so he should be playing all the games we have in the league. Let’s put him in the shop window, if he can win us some games in the meantime, then fantastic.

West Brom will be a tough cookie, and the result will most likely come down to one goal. We need to stay patient and keep playing the game we normally do. Spread the play, pass fast and our form players will do the rest.

Let’s pick up the points and then we can move onto the Chelsea game. If we lose this game, then the match against Conte’s Blues won’t matter so much anyway. We need to win them all.

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Mustafi, Koscielny, Chambers, Bellerin, Kolasinac, Coquelin, Wilshere, Iwobi, Ozil, Alexis, Welbeck.

Predicted scoreline – 2-1 to The Arsenal

Kieran Gibbs – Unfair to Judge?

Originally posted on Goonersphere

Certain players are judged a little more than others. This comes as a result of a heavier expectation, which in turn is created by the pedigree of the player and more often than not, a hefty pricetag.

The parameters with which these stars are gauged differ though. With strikers, the inevitable number we all look at is goals. 


Assists and shot efficiency are all valuable to us, but it is the frequency they hit the onion bag that is at the crux of things. 


Midfielders have perhaps the toughest of requirements to make the grade. Passing, tackling, successful take-ons, passing percentage. Pretty much all facets of the game we scrutinise each day are categories a midfielder is expected to shine in.


What does happen though, regardless of the player and the position, is that some of these men who wear the shirt are given certain allowances. There are players such as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mohamed Elneny, on occasion Aaron Ramsey, that receive less lambasting as they rarely enjoy long runs in the team. A player who is not allowed the staple of accruing some rhythm and sharpness should warrant a less invasive lens hovered over their every move.


Then, there are players like Theo Walcott and Kieran Gibbs. Both players have not really enjoyed a long stint in the team for a while. Whether this be through injury or poor form is not the point. What really should be looked at is why they are both unfairly judged even though they have both suffered the same fate as The Ox, Elneny and others. The majority of fans, if asked, would say – Gibbs especially – that they have not been good enough.


Theo has stepped up to the plate this season, and his goal rate in terms of minutes speaks for itself. Never the most productive over ninety minutes, the England attacker does pop up with goals even if he has not had the best of times during the game. What of Gibbs though?














The constant presence of Nacho Monreal has stunted Gibbs’ Arsenal career. The first season the Spaniard arrived, Gibbs held his place as Nacho acclimatised, but since then, Monreal has well and truly won the battle between the two left footed defenders. It has meant that Gibbs has needed to improve, to show his worth.


The last two seasons for Gibbs has been sporadic at best. Drafted in and used as a remedy for ills on the pitch, he has not been granted the chance to gain rhythm. Instead, he has been put into the side here and there, feeding from titbits.


Gibbs has shown incredible levels of patience as the understudy to Nacho. The last two campaigns has seen him grow as a player, perhaps learning the finer nuances of his role from the player who has kept him out of the side. Is he first team material though?


Bearing in mind the above paragraphs, Gibbs has been pretty reliable in his rare outings. Solid in attack and keeping it simple in defence, the former England man has done all this without the sharpness afforded to others. This leaves a dilemma of sorts.


Nacho Monreal looks ever likely to leave the club, with Athletic Bilbao sniffing around in pursuit. Does Arsenal stay with Gibbs and perhaps elevate Cohen Bramall into the backup position? Or does new boy Sead Kolasinac instantly take the shirt? 


If we continually replace then the youth at the club will never flourish. More importantly, the players who do trust in the values of patience will think that particular trait is foolish. We need to reward those who have stuck with us and reward those who have improved when necessary.


Gibbs is one of these players. The last time he was a guaranteed start, Gibbs just failed to make the grade. Now, he is at the level where he can produce the level needed even without a run in the side.


A lot will hinge on pre-season and if he can continue to maintain fitness. If he does, then the number 3 shirt should be open for a battle between Gibbs and Kolasinac. 

Welcome to Arsenal – Sead Kolasinac

Arsenal officially announced the arrival of Schalke left-back Sead Kolasinac yesterday. It is the welcome early start to transfer business that Gooners have been yearning for, and it is quite excellent business by our club.

The Bosnian defender comes highly rated from Bundesliga experts, and one of them in particular – Raphael Honigstein – had this to say to the Guardian’s Football Weekly Podcast about our new signing;

He is one of the better left-backs in the Bundesliga. He is very strong, very physical and very good in the air. He is one of those left-backs that can play as a centre-half.”

Heavy praise indeed when you consider the welath of talent that German football has in its ranks. Not only that, but with our propensity for injuries to blight our season, Kolasinac’s versatility could well come in handy.

So, what do we know of our new guy? Well, he will turn 24 years old this month, and he worked his way up through Schalke’s youth team before making his first team debut in 2012. He did not start at Schalke though. Kolasinac actually put down roots for his hometown club Karlsruhe FC, before going to TSG Hoffenheim and Stuttgart for short spells. He finally found his way in Gelsenkirchen, and his youth team displays soon saw him on the radar.

From there, he quickly settled into the team and 89 appearances later, we have a new left-back. Kolasinac rapidly earned international status too, but it was initially with the German youth team that he played. He decided to play for the nation of his parents – Bosnia Herzogovina – and he now has 18 appearances. 

Kolasinac is known for his physicality, and he won’t be one for shirking tackles. He is more than just a rugged defender though. His touch is impressive, and he has been often seen outwitting markers with his first touch. For a felow with a large frame, he has deceptive speed too, and his five assists were a Bundesliga best for a defender last season.

So, quite the handful. 

What is most impressive is that we have picked this player up for absolutely nothing. Zero. Zilch. Nada. If that isn’t good business, I don’t know what is. After grabbing the starlet Rob Holding for a meagre £2m, critics may pick up on a theme of costcutting, but why spend millions when you can grab quality for nothing?

Kolasinac’s attributes point to a player that will require very little transitional time. He will be more than primed for the rigorous physical examination, and his attacking instincts will be matched for our team’s tactics. Once he builds the necessary rapport with his new teammates, he will be a force to be reckoned with.

Kolasinac looks to be the replacement for 32yr old Nacho Monreal. The Spaniard has been an excellent servant for our club, but perhaps his age may prove to be an obstacle when considering another 60plus games for next season. With interest from Bilbao in recent years, Nacho will not be short of offers.

So, we have our first signing of the summer, and Kolasinac is exactly the standard required to improve what we have. 

Excellent first step Arsenal, long may it continue. 

Sead Kolasinac – Arsenal’s New Defender?

Originally published on Goonersphere. ​

The general rule of thumb when it comes to transfer rumours is, you should never listen to transfer rumours.

This easy, Fight Club-esque list of regulations should be quite simple to grasp, but the majority of us occasionally have our heads turned when we read or hear a juicy titbit regarding a player ‘apparently’ being linked to our club.

When it comes to rumours in football, they are used as a tool. Either a newspaper or website is angling for a larger audience so they drop tantalising bait into the waters, or it is an agent who is manoeuvring his client so he can get a fatter contract. 

Either way, what we are left with is a steaming pile of oxen-excretion. 

Sometimes, well, occasionally, the steam that is rising from this fresh load of defecate is not actually steam at all. It is smoke.

And where there is smoke, there is fire.

This could well be the case with the latest gossip doing the rounds around the footballing equivalent of the watercooler. The story of Schalke 04 left-back Sead Kolasinac signing a pre-contract agreement with Arsenal has been published not just by one newspaper, but by all the rags and all the sites. It has been jumped on and Arsenal have been loath to deny or confirm. 

So, there may actually be substance to this one for once. 

The more we dig up on Kolasinac, the more this move makes sense too.

First and foremost, he is a free agent come June. This has meant that Kolasinac has been able to hawk himself around to interested parties since January. One of those that was sniffing around the Bosnian has reportedly been Chelsea. If it is true that he has turned down the Blues for us, then he is more than welcome to join us!

The left-back is 23 and has played for his country 17 times already. In 31 games this season, he has registered 7 assists. Not a bad ratio for a defender. He has a great delivery into the box and is constantly on the overlap, so he would fit right in with us. Kolasinac is quite a hefty build too, so the rigours of the Premiership will not be such a shock. 

This move is a good fit for us, and with our current left-back seemingly losing his ability for consistency, then Kolasinac would be a great move. Nacho Monreal s again being courted by Athletic Bilbao, so Nacho going back home for a more sedate last few years is in everyone’s interests.

Kieran Gibbs may well have his nose put out of joint, but hopefully this will be a reminder that he has to shape up or ship out. The England defender is capable of so much more, so a rival for his spot can only push him on to better things.

Kolasinac may or may not have signed a pre-contract with us, but his pedigree is more than good enough to cause a little excitement with the potential news. 

Arsenal 1-0 West Brom – 5 Key Points 

After two successive defeats and losing precious ground with the top of the league, a win – any type of win – was always going to be the order of the day from this match.

This home victory provided the opportunity to put our season back on track, and despite the close scoreline, this performance was just what the doctor ordered. 

West Brom turned up to The Emirates with the aim of stifling the Gunners, and who can blame Tony Pulis? Despite being labelled as one of the managers who is capable of being a thorn in the side of Arsenal, Pulis’s record isn’t exactly impressive against Arsenal. The only thing that has worked in the past is the stoic approach, playing with two banks of four behind the ball. 

This is exactly what the Baggies lined up to execute, but it was to no avail in the end. Arsenal huffed and puffed at times, and there is a danger of overlooking the good points of our play, but West Brom really came close to claiming an undeserved point.

If not for Olivier Giroud’s 86th minute header, it was looking increasingly likely that more dropped points was on the Gunners menu. There was only ever one team that was going to score, but a combination of an errant final ball, hordes of West Brom players behind the ball and the woodwork meant that it took until the dying embers of the game for the points to be won.

Arsene Wenger had to shuffle his team before kickoff, as Theo Walcott was declared unfit, so Alexis was named on the left flank, and Olivier Giroud was named as the sole striker. Kieran Gibbs was also given the nod after a few shaky games from Nacho Monreal, so Arsenal could pose an aerial threat against a predominantly strong team with the ball in the air.

The Gunners though, seemed intent on playing on the deck, even though Giroud gave the side an asset in the box. The first half was a myriad of passes in and around the West Brom box, and Ozil and Sanchez looking to provide either the killer blow or pass. Conversely though, Baggies keeper Ben Foster wasn’t truly tested even in the face of such endeavours – there was only one shot on target in the entire 45 minutes.

The second half was a different story, although thankfully not as contrasting as our last two games. We played with more zip on the deck, intent to utilising West Brom’s lack of mobility compared to ours. 

Ben Foster, when not time wasting, was the man who was responsible for keeping his side in the game, but even he couldn’t touch Olivier Giroud’s header, which came from an Ozil cross. 

It was enough to win the game, but there was far more to write about during the ninety minutes. Here are the key points from the match:

Alex Iwobi getting back some form

The young Nigerian had been experiencing the inevitable dip that any starlet suffers from when bursting onto the scene. This game showed that amongst Iwobi’s strengths, he also has a steel spine to boast of. In the face of such criticism, he had not let it affect his game. He still was trying all sorts of flicks and backheels in order to pierce the Baggies backline, and it was he and Alexis that looked more likely to provide the inspiration. He looked the part, and this is also vitally important with our widemen missing this game. More of the same please!

Timewasting in the first half?

Just like Stoke City a few weeks back, West Brom knew they would have to employ more than a stubborn defence to take any points away from The Emirates, and it was their gamesmanship that was more frustrating than anything else. Ben Foster and on occasion some other players on the books at West Brom, were taking more than their sweet time for set plays. It was blindingly obvious to anyone other than the referee, but it spelled out exactly what Tony Pulis had instructed – Frsutrate Arsenal, and we can nick a point.
Bellerin and Gibbs so vital

Hector and Keiran both had license to run amok as their opponent seemed unwilling to venture any further than the halfway line. They really did give our attack another arrow, which we really did need to stretch a compact West Brom. They were solid when they needed to be, and they positioned themselves exactly where they were always needed. Great stuff.

Ozil always working

He will no doubt cop some heat again, as he didn’t perform sliding tackles, beat players with a rabona and score a screamer, but his work is there for all that want to see it. Against a Pulis side who were intent on shutting out all and sundry, he flitted around every nook and cranny that he could, trying to spark anything into life. We too, were static at times, so there were not many runners to pick out, but he had ridiculous amounts of the ball and whenever he could, he attempted to manipulate the opponent in order to create gaps. It was his 100th Premier League game, and he also recorded his 36th assist, which apparently is second only to Eric Cantona for assists recorded in 100 games. 

Giroud offers much, but there are limits

This was the Frenchman’s fourth goal of the season, and the majority of his season has been spent on the bench. We all know what Ollie brings to the table, and if a decent ball is whizzed into the box, then invariably Giroud will finish it – as shown with his goal. He doesn’t offer though, the movement of Alexis, and that is why the Chilean has prospered in the same position. Giroud is definitely useful and we must keep him, but he must adapt to his shifting role – which he has done thus far, offering much value from the bench when called upon. He is perfect for some games, not all. This game, he latched onto the only real chance that was presented to him. He did exactly what we needed. Job done.

There was much more to write about. Gabriel had perhaps his best game in an Arsenal shirt, offering a calm outlet when harrying Baggies players came rushing, and he was great aerially against Salomon Rondon. Xhaka and Coquelin were safe, but relatively untroubled so could spend the majority of their time in the opposition half, and Petr Cech finally ended a run of eight games without a clean sheet.

The most important thing amongst the words above though, is that we picked up the points. We were tough, and we kept at it. With City, Chelsea and United all winning, anything else wsould have been calamitous. 

Onwards we march. Well done boys. 

Arsenal Vs Middlesbrough – Match Preview

It’s been a while since we Gooners have erred towards positivity, but the current run Arsenal are enjoying leaves no room for negativity.

One loss in the last seven months, squad weaknesses rectified, and the attacking verve which was missing through a large portion of last season has returned – and with aplomb.

Our last outing was just two days ago – a comprehensive 6-0 victory over Ludogorets – and it was yet another win for Arsene Wenger’s men, which adds yet more of that magic ingredient which boosts our team – confidence.

Back to Premier League matters though, and next up is Boro. 

In terms of selection, the fixtures are upon us with alarming regularity. It is great news for us fans, but Arsene Wenger must use his full repertoire to ensure injuries are staved off, exhaustion does not occur, and the form players are in the side.

In the midweek Champions League win, Granit Xhaka was left out of the team, despite being available for selection. The Swiss star will again miss out, but this time it will be due to suspension after his ludicrous red card against Swansea. Francis Coquelin returned to great effect in his absence, and the Frenchman will again more than likely get the nod to partner Santi Cazorla in the centre – if the Spaniard is fit.

Cazorla picked up a knock to his Achilles in the midweek win, so our midfield may just be a combination that has rarely been seen. Mohamed Elneny stands by to deputise if Cazorla fails the fitness test.

David Ospina will once again drop to the bench to make way for regular glove incumbent Petr Cech, but after this, the team selection enters into guesswork territory.

Keiran Gibbs replaced Nacho Monreal in midweek, and he may just hold the place down again, after the Spaniards recent displays were below his usual standard. Gibbs may just have deserved his shot too, after showing patience and professionalism whilst on the bench, but his displays never faltered.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain played well in our Champions League game, but the man he replaced – Alex Iwobi, looks to have the left of attack nailed down. Will The Ox keep his place, or will our Nigerian wunderkind return to his rightful spot?

Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey continue to fight their way back into contention after their respective injuries. It is simply a lack of match fitness that is blocking their efforts to get back into the reckoning, but a few minutes may not be beyond them. 

Lucas Perez got a brief runout midweek, but the likelihood of him being in the first eleven is low. Next week’s EFL Cup game against Reading may be the game for him.

Our attacking triumvirate certainly will be taking to the field against Boro, as they scorch each and every opponent they face. Walcott, Sanchez and Ozil have hit form, with Ozil hitting his first ever hattrick, and Walcott and Alexis full of goals for the majority of this season thus far. Each player, much like the Channel4 News Team, bring their own subtle blend to the equation, and collectively, they have the power to unlock the meanest of defences.

How can Wenger drop any of them? 

Boro lost narrowly in their last game – a 1-0 reverse at the hands of Watford – and their boss Aitor Karanka has to arrest the slide which his side are on, with just one point from their last five games. 

Their is danger in their side though. Aside from the loss to the Hornets, Boro have scored in each of their games. They have genuine quality in their side, with Martin De Roon in the engine room and Alvaro Negredo up top just two of their stars, and Karanka will ensure they do not give up the points without a fight.

It is a game we will expect to win, but the Premiership is possibly the most difficult to predict – which is to its benefit. 

On a sidenote, Boro defender George Friend has proclaimed that his team aren’t scared of Arsenal. The last person to declare their bravery before facing the Gunners was the Ludogorets coach……

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Gibbs, Coquelin, Cazorla, Walcott, Ozil, Iwobi, Sanchez

Predicted Scoreline – 2-0 Arsenal.

Club Vs Country.

The groans that were emitted could be heard far and wide across the twittersphere, as the Premiership ground to a halt for the second time since the season started, and the negative noises for once, were shared by the majority.

As football news shifted to Gareth Southgate’s first game in charge of the Three Lions, the talk amongst fans still centred on their respective clubs – at least it did amongst Gooners. Theo Walcott’s return to the international fold, Mesut Ozil’s exploits for Die Mannschaft, and then late call-ups for our pair of left-backs – Nacho Monreal and Kieran Gibbs.

Somewhat perplexingly, our very own beacon of consistency Monreal, had not received a call-up to the Spanish team since 2013, but a change in manager to Julen Lopetegui has seen our own Spanish defender called up as cover to Jordi Alba. 

Then, with Ryan Bertrand injured early in England’s insipid victory over Malta, Kieran Gibbs was called up to Southgate’s squad. Despite Gibbs not being able to nail down a first team spot for two seasons, Keiran has been the model of professionalism, and in each of his sporadic appearances since being forced down the pecking order he has performed admirably.

In both cases, the players involved would have been overjoyed to resume their international careers. Playing for your country represents the ultimate accolade, and even though club matters now overshadow international meetings, the players can feel nothing but pride when pulling on the shirt of their country.

For fans however, it has become an irrelevance, or perhaps even a scouting mission. With each match, the majority of fans I speak to simply watch the matches to keep a watchful eye on the players hailing from the clubs they support. Injuries crop up with alarming regularity, and the merest hint of a muscle strain sets panic aflame across social media.

It has become a procession of worrying for most fans. Hoping and praying that their star players return unscathed from international duty. The result is found far down in the list of importance when international football rears its boring head. We want our players to perform well and get on the pitch, but the crux of the matter is that we want our boys back safe within the sanctity of our clubs.

We all revelled in Monreal being called up to the Spanish squad, but we mainly want him to return unharmed. With England performing so disappointingly for so long, the passion for the Three Lions appears at an all time low. The club vs country battle that exists still wages on, but if it were fought in the stands, then country would be nursing a bloody nose by now.

The clubs pay the gargantuan wages that the majority earn, so when players return from their exploits overseas, or even from Wembley and the Millenium Stadium, then it would be nice to see these players not appear so jaded on their first game back in their club jerseys – as so often happens. 

Knowing that Laurent Koscielny, Shkodran Mustafi, Petr Cech, Granit Xhaka, Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott, Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil are pivotal players for their countries does shine well on our club. When players such as Danny Welbeck, Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Calum Chambers receive an international call-up, we fans cannot help but be pleased that they are gaining the recognition they warrant. When Germany won the last World Cup, how fixated were we as Gooners, that Podolski, Ozil and Mertesacker were part of the team?

We take joy from it, but international football, especially qualification, has morphed into a series of worries and voyeuristic looks into how certain players are performing. 

Whether some agree or not, the priority for players must be their clubs. It is how they gain international recognition in the first place – and it is supposedly how they maintain their place in their respective national ranks. Players are not supposed to be able to earn a place through reputation (Rooney, we are all looking at you), so how they play for their clubs is of the utmost importance. Not only this, but money talks. The torrents of cash that is pumped into the players bank accounts by the clubs demands that the players owe it to their clubs to be able to perform when they return from national duty.

It is cynical, and why shouldn’t these men, who are trained to the peak of physical fitness, be able to perform feats of wonder for their country AND their club? 

Nacho Monreal and Keiran Gibbs rightfully must be swelling with pride after returning to their international sides, but most fans just want them to play well, and return injury free. 

The result pales into insignificance compared to years gone by. 

Nottingham Forest Vs Arsenal – EFL Cup Preview

In recent years, and in its many incarnations, the League Cup has provided our club the opportunity to field our crop of exciting youngsters as in terms of priority, it falls behind other forms of silverware.

The League Cup has enjoyed a revival in recent years, and as such, the percentage of first team players has risen accordingly, but the starlets grabbing the attention of Arsene have still looked upon this competition as their best chance to make a mark on first team plans.

Fans also look forward to seeing the next potential wunderkind take to the pitch, and the lower ticket prices never harm attendances, but this season may see an experience-laden team take on Nottingham Forest in our first outing in the EFL Cup.

This is a double-edged sword. It is to the detriment of our youngsters hoping to get a taste of the limelight – and tougher opposition to gauge their progress – but it also means that our squad is probably healthier and heavier in number than it has been in many a year. 

You cannot have both.

So, the lineup for this fixture should see a raft of more experienced players, rather than a large swathe of Reserve players. 

David Ospina played last week against PSG in the Champions League and did his prospects no harm whatsoever with a virtuoso performance which kept the Gunners in the game. The Colombian should be back in the side for this game.

In terms of defence, Rob Holding is another who can look forward to a return to the team, and alongside the young defender from Bolton, Brazilian Gabriel may make his return from injury – he was crocked in the first game of the season – and could be Holding’s partner in the middle of the backline.

Our depth continues in defence. Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal are expected to be rested, so Mathieu Debuchy and Kieran Gibbs are the able deputies that will get the nod to play, and hopefully send a timely reminder to the Boss that they can be relied upon.

In midfield, there are a myriad of options Wenger can call upon, but Mohamed Elneny, Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Gedion Zelalem and Chris Willock will be looking to at least get a sniff of the pitch. 

Many of the youngsters trained with the first team yesterday, and this may give a hint towards who will be at least named on the bench.

Alongside the kids named above, goalkeeper Matt Macey, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Krystian Bielik, Ben Sheaf, Stephy Mavididi, Emile Smith-Rowe, Josh DaSilva and Reiss Nelson were the others lucky enough to be included alongside the first team stars. More than a few won’t be named, but the difference in the lineup for this game compared to our 4-1 win over Hull City will be remarkable.

Gooners travelling to the City Ground will not only be viewing Arsenal’s future on the pitch, it appears that they may get a prolonged viewing of new signing Lucas Perez. The Spaniard has been used sparingly, but this seems the perfect time for the former Deportivo man to hit the ground running and attempt to acclimatise himself. Chuba Akpom will be vying with him for the striker slot, and hopefully face off against some former teammates from when he was on loan at the club for a short time in 2015.

In keeping with the theme of returning to former clubs, there will be a very familiar face in the opposition colours. 

‘Lord’ Nicklas Bendtner joined Forest in the last transfer window, and is already off the mark for the season. The big Dane left Arsenal in 2014, and went to VFL Wolfsburg for two years, before finding himself in the Championship. Another former Gunner – Henri Lansbury, could also play against his former side.

We should be more than aware of his strengths, but hopefully he will get a decent reception from the away boys.

Last seasons League Cup exploits need to be exorcised. The 3-0 drubbing at the hands of Sheffield Wednesday still smarts upon recollection, and whilst there are far more important targets this season, this is still a competition that Wenger has not won in his long tenure with Arsenal. 

First thing is first – a win away from home, and some promising displays from the benchwarmers and shining talents on display is highest on the agenda. 

Picking a lineup is difficult, but:

Ospina, Debuchy, Gabriel, Holding, Gibbs, Elneny, Coquelin, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Iwobi, Perez, Akpom

Predicted Score – 3-0 Arsenal

Keiran Gibbs – Pastures New or Part of Arsenal Future?

Posted on Goonersphere.

Holding the 2014 F.A Cup aloft and looking down at the huge crowd of adoring Gooners, Kieran Gibbs could view his season and his future with a sense of optimism.

Fighting off competition from a Spanish international, finally achieving some form of long term fitness and on the England front, Gibbs was courting a consistent squad call-up. Things were rosy and his summer holiday that year would have been worry free.

Fast forward exactly one year. The same setting – Wembley. The same situation – winning the F.A Cup. Only this time, roles have been reversed for English left-back. Spending the majority of the season on the bench and firmly in the shadow of a fabulously consistent Nacho Monreal – Kieran Gibbs had let his position slip.

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