Freddie trusts youngsters with dangerous Liege-on

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Freddie Ljungberg has selected a young squad to take on Standard Liege in tomorrow’s final game of the Europa League group stages.

Having beaten the Belgians 4-0 at the Emirates, the Gunners just need to avoid defeat by five goals to secure a place in the knockout stages. That said, a win is needed to guarantee top spot ahead of Frankfurt who play stragglers Vitoria.

In light of today’s injury update and the festive fixture pile-up, we’re turning to the Academy for a helping hand.

Emile Smith Rowe, Bukayo Saka, Joe Willock, Robbie Burton, Tyreece John-Jules, Zech Medley and James Olayinka have all jumped on the plane across the Channel. Gabriel Martinelli, scorer of his first Premier League goal on Monday, is also in the squad.

David Luiz, Sokratis, Calum Chambers and Emi Martinez provide much-needed experience; all are likely to start. We’re waiting for confirmation but we suspect Lucas Torreira, Mesut Ozil, Sead Kolasinac and Dinos Mavropanos have also been selected.

The Gunners will be without Hector Bellerin, Dani Ceballos, Rob Holding, Nicolas Pepe, Kieran Tierney (out for three months!)and Granit Xhaka due to injury. Shkodran Mustafi is suspended.

Arsenal host Manchester City at the Emirates on Sunday. It’s going to be a tall order securing a second Premier League win in a row with such a depleted squad, but we’ll start worrying about that on Friday.

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Freezedawg of Sweden
Freezedawg of Sweden

Come on, young gunners!

Gooooooonnnnaaaaaaaa
Gooooooonnnnaaaaaaaa

Personally couldn’t care less if we finish top of this group or second. The man city game on the weekend is huge for us. They’re not looking too well at the moment and have injuries to key players in defense. They CAN be gotten at.

They’re playing in an hour and have included most of their starters in the lineup and the rest are on the bench. This is a huge advantage that we HAVE to take. It doesn’t guarantee anything and city will be massive favorites on Sunday but we have to take whatever advantage we can.

Despite our slim chances of getting into the top 4 this season, beating City could provide a huge confidence boost to our players, fans and everyone associated with Arsenal – and we need it.

Freddie managed most of these youngsters as recently as a couple of months ago, what better person to lead a team of youngsters. It’s not like emery or arsenal playing them in such a match and relying on reports. Freddie knows these players inside out and this is a huge opportunity for them. We could get tough opponents in the next rounds in this tournament and could get tough opponents in the FA cup. This could be their last chance to play for the first team this season.

For me, I’d rest every single player we plan on playing on Sunday and just focus on that match.

COYG!!!! ❤️

goongot
goongot

manC is going to stuff us even if we play full strength on current form.Let’s prioritize europa and avoid champions league team.

SB Still
SB Still

I love the optimism.

After what we have been through this season, I’m just going in with low expectation – ManC will beat us with their backup team.

It would be good if we put up a good performance.

Runzac
Runzac

Well, Ederson DeBryune Sterling Walker and Silva all rested and Jesus taken off at 60 minutes. They are beatable but we’re a total mess without any confidence so I would play a strong side in Liege and park the bus on sunday

Whisht
Whisht

An interesting take but here’s another just to consider:
– Cups (EL & FA) only chances to get into Europe next season
– Man C highly likely to win at weekend
– Freddie must retain confidence to kick on throughout Dec/Jan etc
So, rather than load the players with ‘must win’ against City and increase pressure, perhaps better to:
– win EL game (to win group which seemed *very* important to Emery and whatever else we think of him he did win a few of the EL Cups and got us to a final)
– play with freedom against ManC (win lose or draw).

The latter may even get us a win as handbrake off, but not load them with that expectation.

Just a thought

Tribe
Tribe

And your thought is quite good. A win against City might prove very important. Boosting morale at the highest. Let’s see what happens but it’s certainly interesting to see how the youngsters do in the final match of the group stage.

Henry_tudor
Henry_tudor

What about Reis Nelson and Maitland-Niles???

LacaNewSigning
LacaNewSigning

IMO Bloggs might have figured that those are already first team players hence no need to mention them in his “surprise” academy list. It’s public knowledge that they’ve featured in a few senior fixtures so fair play to him. (man bite dog, dog bite man news etc etc)

Der32
Der32

The Young Guns to put in Arsenal’s best performance of the season. An early goal to dampen Liege’s spirits. 5-1 to the Arsenal.

Halfaloaf
Halfaloaf

Forgot we’d still got Dani Ceballos on loan

Full of Bull
Full of Bull

I’d like to see ESR play, assume he’s been injured recently again. Could make a difference in the PL if he stays fit and gets a run. Missing some creativity in that midfield, and some drive. He has both in bags.

Bodie CI5
Bodie CI5

Man city’s B team will beat our full strength squad

Santori
Santori

Rather big blow on Tierney. Don’t think he has been doing any “masterclass” as some prefer to imagine but a very big loss all the same to a good asset we really need.

Kolasinac himself is playing through issues so hopefully he keeps fit since he has been quite good lately.

Santori
Santori

As far as team is concern, not sure if its entirely a great idea to rely on youth against Standard Liege away with the Europa also in the balance. We may well find ourselves kicked out of europa if not careful.

BUT we also have to cast a very wary eye on the league match coming up against City.

If we consider we can’t get any points from that, then maybe better to invest in Europa and get things done.

OTOH, we are so critically low in league at the moment that we must gun for every point even if against City.

I think a sensible balance needs to be struck but with some protection particularly to fullbacks right now bc of injury to Tierney, Bellerin and Kolasinac also not 100%

For Liege game…

AMN may get his shot but really needs to stay solidly focus. I am still unconvinced he can but its his last shot at staying in first team (due to circumstance) and he needs to be impressed with that by Freddy.

Maybe we might need to protect Kolasinac (with Tierney out for 3 months) have AMN left side and Chambers on the right.

Also a critical issue would be Cback. There’s been too much chop and change IMO. We need to keep as stable a pairing as possible. Holding still looks doubtful, Mustafi suspended so ti might just have to be Calamity Luiz and Sokratis.

Out in midfield, we need a bit of experience. Torreira should start IMO with either Willock or Guendouzi. Ozil likely to be given a rest so Smith-Rowe may come in but ideally we need Cebellos.

Again serves to illustrate incredibly thin resources at the moment with just one or two players out (never mind earlier fan induced nonsense with granit compounding issues further). Midfield balance and experience/relationships remain a massive concern.

Up top is slightly easier. Laca rested against Hammers so likely to come in to help lead. Martinelli may be useful given his tremendous work rate and his goal scoring record at the moment. Saka also in frame on the left again decent work rate if a bit green but no issues with him.

Out right, I would not half mind seeing Pepe get as much game time as as possible. He really needs to improve on his off ball work A LOT.

Reiss Nelson of course working way back in, he’s had a rough start so far but if he can kick into gear for us, will be extremely helpful.

Getting the right balance without being too complacent and too much compromise will be the issue. We must not take things for granted bc we could be knocked out and that would make things worse (again)

And then there’s City next. Very tricky. Have to feel for Llungberg, he’s in the deep end at the moment.

He seems to be doing well with morale given lucky boost with critical win over Hammers but has to really IMO impress the team on off ball work. We are far from giving all we can but if we can, we may have some competitiveness to get something out of next two games.