We’ll have a full pre-match report for the Brighton game tomorrow, but to stir the pot (as it were) here’s a big conundrum that Mikel Arteta has to grapple with: does he start Smith Rowe and Martinelli against the Seagulls after their hugely encouraging outings against Chelsea on Saturday?
There’s no doubting that the pair injected a sense of energy, skill and pace into our team against the West Londoners and, based on that, it seems obvious that they should start against Brighton.
And yet… Martinelli recently returned from a really serious injury and has played a fair bit of football in the last week (just over a half against Manchester City and 70 minutes against the Chavs). In the Man City game he also took a hefty blow which forced him off early.
With that in mind, would we be taking too much of a risk by starting him tomorrow? He looks like our most exciting and dangerous attacker so the last thing we need is for him to suffer another long absence.
Likewise with Smith Rowe. Although he has not had the same injury problems as Martinelli, he has had very limited first team experienced and almost all young players who make a breakthrough into the senior line-up risk hitting a wall if they’re over-played.
There’s also the question of Aubameyang’s return. He was on the bench on Saturday and is likely to be fit to start against Brighton. As the captain you’d have to assume he’s an automatic pick, but who gets dropped? Martinelli? Smith Rowe? Saka?
Based on the evidence so far this season, I say we look better with that young trio than with Auba, but can you really see El Patron making that call?
All I know is that if our starting line-up includes Auba, Pepe and Willian with no place for Smith Rowe and Martinelli I will feel somewhat deflated.
What would you do if you were Arteta?