Emery pleased to have a selection headache

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Unai Emery says he’s pleased to have a selection dilemma for Saturday’s opening home game of the season against Burnley as the majority of his squad close in on full fitness.

The Spaniard opted to start four of his new signings on the bench for the 1-0 win over Newcastle, chose not to risk Alex Lacazette – who had been nursing an ankle knock – while  Sead Kolasinac and Mesut Ozil didn’t make the trip north due to an ongoing threat to their security.

While the German is a doubt with illness and Granit Xhaka is struggling with a knock, the boss still needs to decide whether to stick with teenagers Joe Willock and Reiss Nelson and if he should keep faith with the same back four that kept a clean sheet at St James’ Park.

“Each player is different and really after Newcastle this week the players have been working well,” he told his pre-game press conference.

“Today was the same. We can decide and choose different options for each position in the squad. We need to be competitive and we need different options to decide who is better for each match.

“If I have some doubt it’s good because it’s positive and after we are going to decide and it can depend on training on Friday. But the new players, the players who were with us last year and the youth players are all with us, and we can achieve our way each match with confidence in them.”

Emery is also aware that the home crowd is eager to see club-record signing Nicolas Pepe make his Emirates bow. After limited pre-season training, the Ivorian stretched his legs for 19 minutes at Newcastle but sounds like he’s ready to feature for longer.

“I am going to decide on Friday because now is a small difference for my decision about the player,” said Emery.

“It depends how they will be tomorrow in the training. But Pepe is training with us, is improving with us, is knowing us, our idea, our style, is able to understand his team-mates better.

“Physically also, getting better. He’s more close to helping us than he was at the beginning, after giving us an impact during the match.”

Arsenal do still have a number of players sidelined, including Rob Holding, Hector Bellerin, Dinos Mavropanos, Emile Smith Rowe and new boy Keiran Tierney.

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Cacho
Cacho

Would love to see Willock start in midfield again. Not sure if Torreira is fit? If so a base of Torreira/Guendouzi with Willock more advanced would be a well balanced midfield I think.

BCGooner
BCGooner

Love what we’ve seen from Willock so far but this home game might be better-suited to Ceballos. Without Xhaka or Ozil we’re lacking some creative passing and will need someone to progress the ball up the pitch

GeoffRey Hurstmaker
GeoffRey Hurstmaker

I agree, BCGooner, but I can actually see Willock doing that. One thing he has become really good at as he’s grown in strength and confidence is riding challenges as he progresses the ball through the midfield. Not quite as technical as Ceballos, but I think he might cover more ground and be a bit more solid defensively.

utk
utk

Xhaka will be a big miss against Burnley IMO – adds a bit of physicality. On top of that Torreira hasn’t had much match practice yet has he?

Dan nichols
Dan nichols

id like to see ceballos start but cant see him and willock, who, like you, id like to see start. most interested in seeing Pepe though.

Cacho
Cacho

Totally forgot about Ceballos! Either him or Willock, but I think with Willock playing well he should get another start. I love watching him in tight spaces. He’s able to burst past his first marker and really open things up. Fine either way though

Victdot
Victdot

Nice headache indeed

Fatgooner
Fatgooner

“Arsenal do still have a number of players sidelined, including Rob Holding, Hector Bellerin, Dinos Mavropanos, Emile Smith Rowe and new boy Keiran Tierney.”

This is the most important sentence in this article. When the transfer window closed I said that I was disappointed because we didn’t sign at least one quality centre-back (Sideshow Bob isn’t an authentic defender). And we’ve started this season with AMN out of position at right-back yet again. So now we have to hope that the likes of Chambers, Holding, Bellerin, Mavropanos and the new boy Tierney provide the defensive solidity that we badly lacked last season. When the are all finally fit. It’s a huge gamble.

This is a massive season for both Emery and the club. If we concede anything like the 50 PL goals of last season then we’ll finish outside the top four again. And our Spanish friend will probably be looking for a new job this summer.

Dan nichols
Dan nichols

i disagree

Dat guy
Dat guy

Luiz has great stats and reads the game extremely well. Also signed a very promising young CB and we spent a lot more than we were supposed to so I don’t think there’s any reason to be negative. There’s always next season where hopefully Miki, Elneny, and Mustafi are off the books and that should allow us another signing.

SB Still
SB Still

You have ruled out Luis not sure I agree with it. However, we still have Chambers, no is no reason why he can’t improve like all good young players do.

AMN playing out of position was MoM for many, also he maybe better suited to RB, RWB rather than any other position. So, all of this playing time as cover for Bellerin is important learning time for him.

Paul Roberts
Paul Roberts

Fats don’t be so negative. AMN had a blinder last time out. We conceded lots of that 50 in the second half of last season. In the second half of this season our defence should far better than last season’s. Luiz is a very good player and is a great personality to have around along with his vast experience.

Goonereality
Goonereality

Well, it’s certainly true that it’s a massive season for Emery. It’s the second year of his two-year contract (albeit there’s an option for a further year, by mutual consent). Over his time so far, we’ve made quite a few signings (we had to, the squad inherited from Wenger wasn’t going anywhere) and have spent a lot of money although the financial position is, and remains, “tight”.

As we all know last season ended in a really big disappointment, especially having promised so much with only a few weeks left. This season, expectations are – understandably – very high, you only need to read many comments on this site. Failure to get a top four finish this season, which is clearly the top priority, could have serious implications for Emery.

The maths remains tricky though. We need two of the other so called “top 6” teams to do worse than us (assuming there’s not another Leicester City lurking). Last season only Utd obliged. The $64,000 question is: which two will have to finish below us this season? City and Liverpool are virtual shoe-ins, leaving the two coming from Spu*s, Chelsea or Utd.

Even with our new players, we’re going to have to be a lot more focused and consistent, particularly in away games, than we were in 2018/19. Hopefully, we will be but if not to any great degree your prediction may well come true.

ETTAN
ETTAN

Why $64,000? Just curious 🙂

ETTAN
ETTAN

Oh and good post by the way!

George
George

A US game show from the 50s. The final question had a top prize of $64,000.

DOB
DOB

We start some guy Thierry out of position when he joined us too.. that worked out ok I think.
AMN is getting better at right back and hector is almost back..
Dude you are never happy

William Brooks
William Brooks

Really loving the look of this squad and the positivity around the club in general. 4 – 0

Tapps

I’ve backed 5-0 (Lacazette hat-trick).

AnonymousGun
AnonymousGun

I havent got enough money to buy Laca for my FPL team yet.. so maybe wait a bit for hattrick?

XD

Ex-Priest Tobin
Ex-Priest Tobin

Enjoy it while it lasts. We’ll get pumped by Liverpool, and go back to being depressed again.

Jack
Jack

Burnley away is the tough one. Burnley at home should typically be a 3-0 win for us. Come on lads.

SB Still
SB Still

There is plenty of new players – transferred and promoted, they will need getting used to the league and our squad. The usual cliche of there are no easy games in this league.

Nevertheless hoping for the 3 points and another clean sheet.

Goonereality
Goonereality

Yes, I agree. We should win but saying it doesn’t make it happen (as, unfortunately, many fellow Gooners found out in the shambles of a run in last season).

It will give a chance for Emery to give more of the new signings a runout and we’ll also have Ozil and Kolašinac available as well but, overall, I suspect we’ll still have to put in more work as a team than we did at Newcastle to ensure the three points.

Tapps

Burnley are no mugs (as evidenced by their opening day 3-0 win) but they will almost certainly come to The Emirates looking to close us out. Let’s get at them and attack them from the off. 4-2-3-1: Leno, AMN, Koala, Luiz, Papa, Torreira, Willock, Auba, Ceballos, Pepe, Laca – with a sensible bench to change things as required. COYG.

The Spoon
The Spoon

Pepe on at half time after we’ve already tired their defenders out. Can’t imagine he’ll be starting for a few weeks. Definitely a game for Luiz though, bit more physical.

BCGooner
BCGooner

that’s a pretty dramatic change from the team that produced a solid opening day performance! I count six changes?

I’d keep the same defence and midfield .. and then unleash the fury of an Auba / Laca / Pepe front 3…

Deep

Cute and slow – I thought Xhakha was our Koala. Whats he doing in the back 4?

BigArse
BigArse

I want us to stick with Chambers and Papa, and leave Luiz as a quality back up, until when/if performances dictate a change

Aaron
Aaron

Maybe a game for a 5-2-3 with Luiz in the Centre flanked by Chambers and Papa.
AMN and Kolasinac on the wing back roles.
Guendouzi and Torreira in the middle with any forward 3 to start.
This should function more as a 3-4-3 as we are likely to have most of the possession at home and the front 3 should have plenty of opportunities to score a few.

Santori
Santori

We need two quality picks in each position.

In a nominal 4-2-3-1 (no order of pref):

…………………………………..Laca/Auba…………………………………….
Nelson/Martinelli…………………………………………….Pepe/Mhkitaryan
…………………………………Ozil/Ceballos……………………………………
……………….Granit/Willock…………….Torreira/Guendouzi…………….
Tierney/Kolasinac………………………………………………..AMN/Bellerin
………………Sokratis/Holding…………..Chambers/SSBob……………….
………………………………..Leno/Martinez…………………………………..

We also have Smith-Rowe likely in the Ozil/Ceballos position.

And Monreal should he not be sold means we can push Kolasinac forward and leave Martinelli as a third option up top as well.

We can of course also tinker to 3 at the back with kolasinac and AMN as wingbacks

or 2 up top. Plenty of permutations for the gaffer.

adrian
adrian

First time no down-vote on Santori’s comment. Way to go Santori

Peter Story Teller
Peter Story Teller

He kept it brief so we actually read it and didn’t mention signing Mahrez at all!

Santori
Santori

I would have loved Mahrez two summers ago.;)

Aaron
Aaron

And didn’t say anything about scapegoating Mustafi.
Lol

James
James

I want an absolute goalfest this Saturday. 4, maybe 5 nil. Please?

Goonereality
Goonereality

Hope so, anything less than the three points with games against Liverpool and Spu*s coming up will be very disappointing indeed.

Be Excited
Be Excited

ozil is ill again?

Sten
Sten

Think he will be sold to DC

Rich
Rich

Burnley isn’t a game I’d throw Pepe+Ceballos into, maybe 1, but certainly not both together.

Chambers+Sokratis did enough against Newcastle to have another go.

Emery is impossible to second guess, but I’d be inclined to stick with the same 11.

Abduselam Ethiopia
Abduselam Ethiopia

…………..Laca………….
Auba…………………………………………….Pepe
…………………………………Ozil……………………………………
……………….Granit…………….Torreira…………….

Kolasina……………Sokratis/…………..Luiz……………….AMN
………………………………..Leno…………………………………..

Grabs

Cut out the burnley supply line , usually Robbie Brady’s left foot, think their defence will be in for a very busy afternoon COYG

pharbo
pharbo

I think the most likely scenario is Nelson/Miki drops to the bench for Laca, and the rest stays the same.

Possibly Luiz in for Chambers (if he thinks we need more attacking flair from CB) and/or Ceballos in for Willock. Depends how strong Emery really is on his mini project youth.

AnonymousGun
AnonymousGun

Dropped Miki, moved RN to the right wing, Auba on left to Laca centre. If GX not fit, I bring Ceballos in. Luiz can come in for either CC or Papa.

Pepe can come in after HT so he can build up more game minutes just like last week.