As an Irishman it pains me to write this, but Dundalk FC will be one of the most objectionable teams we will entertain in N5 this entire season.
Yes, they come from a charming little town in the Irish Republic, just a bit south of the border with Northern Ireland.
Yes, they are currently the best team in the Republic and the top-ranked team in the country according to UEFA.
And yes, I’m sure many of their players are charming fellows with whom you would happily share a Guinness and a few yarns in MacManus’s pub to the background sound of a fiddle, pipe and bodhran trio knocking out a jolly jig.
But there is one big problem with Dundalk FC. One very big problem. It’s their nickname.
Take a deep breath, sit down… Dundalk are known as… The Lilywhites.
I know, wash my mouth out, scrub my keyboard clean. How can I let such filth emanate from my laptop.
As we all know, there’s another team not to far away from N5 that call themselves The Lilywhites. And we all know what we think of them. For the benefit of any Irish readers, our neighbours are eejits. They’re feckers. Flutes. A bunch of gobshite hoors.
And Dundalk, I’m sorry, but you are guilty by association. If you call yourselves Lilywhites, you must expect to be met with the scorn and derision that Lilywhites deserve.
And so to the game.
We had a disappointing result against Leicester City on Sunday. Despite dominating for large parts of the game (as GoonerB skilfully detailed in yesterday’s Post) we lost by a single goal.
This weekend we face an away trip to Manchester United, which will surely play a significant factor in El Patron’s team selection for tonight.
Disrespect to Dundalk, (I would normally say “NO disrespect”, but I can’t do that for the aforementioned reasons), despite being the top team in Ireland they are many, many levels below Arsenal.
So we need to start an entire second team against them, with a strong weighting towards youth.
By all means have a few of the big boys on the bench for any ‘break glass in emergencies’ scenarios, but leave it to the second string to bring home the points and leave the Lilywhites feeling blue.
My line-up would be as follows:
Soares – Saliba – Gabriel – Kolasinac
Maitland-Niles – Elneny – Willock
Pepe – Nketiah – Nelson
I have included Gabriel because of our injury problems at CB, and I’m starting Pepe in yet another attempt to boost his confidence by giving him the chance to bag some goals.
Anything other than a comfortable Arsenal win and a bunch of wilting Lilywhites would be a surprise, not to say an embarrassment.