It’s back to FA Cup action today as we play Saints away in the early kick-off (12.15pm).
The irony with a game like this is that just as Mikel Arteta has got the closest to knowing his first choice 11 since taking over from Unai Emery, today is not a day to play them all.
Not that El Patron won’t want to win. As you know, my view is they should rename the trophy the AFC Cup because it’s OURS, and Arteta has won it as both a player and a manager at Arsenal. He will be desperate to triumph today.
But our league campaign is also vital and we are due to play the same opposition in the EPL on Tuesday night, so there will need to be rotation for today’s game.
Southampton are a decent team and we have struggled on recent trips to their ground on the south coast, so I fully expect this to be a close one.
The main team news is that we have signed a new back-up ‘keeper from Brighton – Matt Ryan, an Aussie who has supported Arsenal since he was a young lad and says he used to get up at 4am to watch our games. I have no idea how good he is but if he starts or is on the bench today it probably means bad news for Alex Runarrson.
I feel some sympathy for Runarrson. He had one game and made a couple of howlers, but football is a brutal sport at the top level.
You would expect our back-up goalie to get a run out in a cup game, but this may be just a bit too soon for Ryan so I expect to see Leno between the sticks.
There are strong rumours that Norwegian playmaker Martin Odegaard will be arriving on loan from Real Madrid. I don’t follow much European football so I can’t tell you much about him except that my son is very excited and describes him as “Ozil with extra work effort.”
Injury wise, Mari won’t be available but is due back in training next week and Dani Ceballos is being assessed before today’s game but is probably available.
With rotation in mind, here’s my predicted starting line-up.
Cedric – Holding – Gabriel – Tierney
Elneny – Ceballos
Pepe – Lacazette – Aubameyang
Let’s win in the normal 90 and power on to the Fifth Round.
Come on You Gunners.