Smith Rowe and Academy trio travel to Molde

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Emile Smith Rowe, Miguel Azeez, Ben Cottrell and Folarin Balogun have all travelled to Norway for Arsenal’s Europa League clash with Molde.

Teams are allowed to select 23 players for Uefa matchday squads and Mikel Arteta will also be able to make five in-game substitutions.

Having won all three group stage games so far and with Premier League fixtures coming thick and fast, Thursday’s clash represents a perfect opportunity to blood a few of the Academy’s hottest prospects.

Strictly speaking, Smith Rowe is already a senior squad member, but his inclusion after a series of injuries is most definitely welcome. He’s been building his fitness with the under-23s and will be hoping to make an impression on the boss with a view to challenging for a regular place on the domestic front.

Striker Balogun, who The Athletic report we’re keen to keep, made his debut against Dundalk while Cottrell and Azeez both player against MK Dons in our short pre-season. All three have trained regularly with the senior players in recent weeks.

A cursory flick through the pictures released by the club show Kieran Tierney (wearing a t-shirt), Shkodran Mustafi, Alex Runarsson, Granit Xhaka and Matt Macey have also travelled. We expect several big names will stay home to prepare for Sunday’s game with Wolves.

Arsenal can secure safe passage to the knockout stages by avoiding a defeat tomorrow night.

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Man Manny

A win tomorrow gives us the perfect opportunity to give our youngsters two European games which will go a long way in their development.
Let’s make it happen.

Johnny 4 Hats

I bet when people are getting tired and bolshy on a long walk you’re the person that goes “C’mon guys, there’s hot chocolate for everybody when we get back to the campsite. All together now! Ten green bottles, hanging on the wall. Ten green bottles, hanging on the wall…”

Good for you. I like those guys.

Danny
The Arsenal

One of our better players and success stories in the last 15 years.

Lakshya

Bip bop boom!

Giuseppe Hovno

Pim pam poom?

Fatgooner

I’d like to see Smith-Rowe start on Thursday. I saw a couple of his games at Huddersfield and he looked quite impressive. The first-teamers should all be rested: I’d leave them all in England.

This is a perfect opportunity for Pepe to redeem himself. As he’s banned for the next 3 PL games we might as well use him in Europe. The Icelandic guy should start in goal: he needs games.

It’s gonna be really strange watching us actually scoring in open play.

gooner

Don’t jinx it. Now watch us score from two penalties and a free kick.

Johnny 4 Hats

Did you really watch Huddersfield games or did you watch a two and a half minute YouTube clip with a Euro trance soundtrack?

Because I watched the YouTube clip and I’m pretty sure he’s better than KDB.

Fatgooner

We get the Championship games here on Sky tv in the UK. Yes, I did watch the full 90 minutes both times.

Johnny 4 Hats

Now that’s commitment.

I found a stream and watched the first few minutes of a St Etienne game last season on account of Billy Saliba.

But my wife asked me why they were talking in French and I explained that I wasn’t actually watching Arsenal but more specifically a player who would play for Arsenal in 12 months time.

She gave me a look which I took to mean “I have horrible taste in men.” So I turned it off.

It’s still the most football I’ve ever seen Willy play mind.

Fatgooner

Divorce her.

Johnny 4 Hats

I can’t man. I don’t want to be another lockdown statistic.

OdalGooner

Share your secrets, oh wise one. How did you turn off that stare she gave you?

I get that a lot too, apparently questions are raised over the absolute necessity of watching Free Practice sessions for MotoGP races in all 3 classes…

Johnny 4 Hats

There are two things you can do to prove your validity for being a worthy cohabiter.

1) Put up a shelving unit.
2) Administer an orgasm.

I did the former.

santi's thigh grab

Those shelving units can be tricky sometime. You must be really good at following directions because you clearly don’t have nimble fingers.

The Peter Simpsons

I once tried to do both simultaneously – complete disaster.

Naked Cygan

I used to think resting our team has benefits for the next game, but after the Villa game I have lost all confidence in resting vs not resting the first team. If the Arsenal that played against United show up we might beat Wolves, if not then we just have to keep our morals high by winning against Molde and Dundalk this year.

Nzini

Do we even still have big names

Godfrey Twatsloch

We do. Not all of them are playing but there certainly are big players on big money at this club.

Arseman

Of course we do.
Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson
Ainsley Maitland-Niles
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

All pretty big names imho

Unfortunately he wasn’t registered but we could have also had
Sokratis Papastathopoulos

Can you imagine all these big names together? 😵

Goonerink

You are indeed forgetting our Brazilian contingent, who go by one name but actually have 4/5 I.e willian Borges da silva

Nzini

He is the biggest of them all right now

santi's thigh grab
Isaac Oni

Blogs I think you made a mistake by saying we’re playing tomorrow night.

Wilshere’s Middle Finger

Those were the days

Another Paul

Yep. And people criticised Wenger for stating that continued top 4 and Wednesday night champions league matches was an achievement 😉

Alex

Well, in his last two seasons he couldn’t make it remember??
Is not as tho it was when he left we couldn’t make it again

A P

We also couldn’t return after he left, remember?

Nzini

The truth is that some on here hoped we could drop out the top 4 as they were convinced, I’m assuming, that it was the only way we could get rid of Wenger, as we had stagnated. Fans were generally tired of 4th place and getting thumped out thereafter.Not sure if they prefer this with hindsight

Viv the 🐐

I mean we did not try to do something in the competition after like 2010 or 2012. We just wanted to play with the big boys. And we got slapped for that left right and center. We seemingly were just there for the money. We could still do with that money, but we should also try to compete.

Appels&Pere

This hurt.

C.B.

Please don’t play Tierney, he’s played too many games recently.

DPK

100%. He played three full games for Scotland (one that went to extra time & pens). I’m actually amazed & disappointed he has travelled.

Pescetarian

Kolasinac can’t play due to being in quarantine, who else we go that can play there? AMN? That means that Portuguese feller, what’s his name again, the one that nobody likes? Yeah him. He can play at RB. So Hector and Kieran can stay at home getting massages and aromatherapy and practice some light yoga in between.

bendtnerschristmastree

Think we might go with either AMN or Cottrel at LB

TeeCee

He won’t play. He insisted on going because he hasn’t got a Norwegian airport duty – free plastic shopping bag.

Charlie

Happy for them. I hope we can use the remainder of the EL matches to hand out some cameos to young players. That was one of the few positives under Emery, and no one needs to watch Willian stroll around like these games are beneath him for 90 minutes. Shaking up the senior squad with some youth can only be a good thing.

Viv the 🐐

I mean Rashford had his first few games in the EL before slapping us at OT, right? I see the EL as a audition on who wants to go out and fight and ball. Mostly for that CAM spot. Also the likes of Mari and Chambers get better chances to compete after recovery. I just hope some youngsters can get a footing in the first team through this tournament. Let us hope and pray!
Up The Arsenal!

Alex

And Özil is out of the EL squad for football reasons! lol

DellGoonner

Why are they travelling today? And is the game not Thursday? I thought I was going bonkers there…

Naked Cygan

We get 10% off on our hotel if we go one day earlier.

santi's thigh grab

And they are having discounted waffles for breakfast on Wednesday.

goonero

I hope Smith Rowe can get some game time. I was expecting this to be a breakthrough season for him after such a strong loan spell. Maybe he can be the reverse Wilshere? Injury riddled and underplayed as a teenager, first team fixture as an adult.

Biggles

Overall, we’re in a position that means we need to try as many practical alternatives as necessary. If playing some/more of the youngsters in a competition such as the EL helps then let’s play them and see what they can do, it may just encourage some of the senior players to pull their finger out.

William

Alex
Cedric Mustafi Luiz AMN
xhaka Willock/Ceballos
Pepe ESR Nelson
Nketiah (Though he might start Lacazette)

Jack

I reckon Pepe will probably start this tomorrow, and if he does so I expect he should give nothing less than 100%

Also saw the Telegraph reporting ‘Arsenal will stick with Pepe for now as opposed to loaning him out this January’. What an absolute joke, he’s our record signing – imagine if we looked to loan someone out every time they got a red card. Xhaka and David Luiz would be regular journeymen by now if that was the case

Martin

Xhaka has only 2 red cards and the last one was over 3 years ago.

Xzibit

About the time he should have left?

Santori

Good piece today Blogs. A very fair assessment of where we are as a club. Some hits and lots of questionable deals. We weren’t willing to give emery the same amount of time we are willing to give Arteta despite similar results. The FA cup win probably a stay. As I have been mentioning for a rather long while, we have been mucking around when what we really should have done (Arguably even in Wenger’s penultimate season) was to get in a truly experienced Technical Director from the trenches. Mslintat was a glorified scout at best. Sanlehi had dubious credentials… Read more »

Viv the 🐐

I’m kinda replying to both of your comments. I think there has been so much missmanagement from all sorts of people and places at Arsenal over mostly the last 5 years. Which big money (35-40 Mill+) was a no brainer and did us improve in the long run? I can only think of Sanchez (just a couple of years) and Auba (also only a couple of years). The rest (Mustafi, Xhaka, Pepe, Laca) were so inconsistent by themselves. It really makes you question how that was possible. The Pepe deal looks more questionable by the minute. Having people being around… Read more »

Viv the 🐐

With regards to having a rookie coach and a rookie technical director. I can’t disagree that this a worrysome setup and a very risky one to say the least. And there have been some mistakes made very surely. I mean the Cedric, Mari and Willian deals were …. unexpected?… troublesome?I mean at that point, I do not know how much power that donphan Raul had over the other executives. But I think we did do a mistake in releasing him. I think those are some new chains around our neck, which will pull us down. But the other deals, which… Read more »

Riku

You mentioned rwing , People said easy to do better than Wenger and up grade on the like of e.g. Theo on r.w. we not had a consistent up grade yet on theo , I have hope in Pepe , he has skills , give him ten Game’s in a row , playing narrow

santi's thigh grab

One of your few posts I don’t have disagreement with. Arteta is close to losing the squad based on their physical manifestations on the pitch. Auba no longer making the same runs he used to and is man marking himself out of games. I really want Arteta/Edu and Mert to make it but I have serious doubts and if we have to blow it up and start over we will be stuck as a mid table side for quite awhile. I like Arteta because he values the club, same for Mert. Not sure about Edu. We need smart people above… Read more »

Santori

How we have fallen playing such minnows in europe. Be careful for what you wish for. Many were clamouring for a run in the europa and opined that they preferred it to the staid feature in CL and top 4 year in year out with Wenger. Now whilst our erstwhile rivals Spurs are pushing top of the table, we are no where near top 4. All some people look forward to these days is a performance against an unknown European team and a victory to feel good and paper over the enormous truth that we are lightweights these days. Arteta… Read more »

Man Manny

Frankly speaking, some of the games in the knock out stages of the EL are equal to some CL games in quality.

Chris

I generally agree with your posts Santori but I’m not sure about these. Absolutely agree that inexperience in top, pressured positions is a risk and there needs to be someone to settle things. I’m not sure about why you are so certain that Aouar, Mahrez or Ziyech would have been the solution to the problems in our squad (if that is what you are saying). The players bought in are definitely good enough but the system doesn’t suit them so why would it suit these replacements you tout? Arteta talks of a process and I think the first stage was… Read more »

Mcheza

Europa has been better for my heart on matters related Arsenal

Bai Blagoi

Azeez will be the next Saka

Sak , Lac & Craic

I agree except for the fact that Saka is still the next Saka!

Bai Blagoi

I juts hope that Saka will not end up to be the next Laca.

Timorous Me

I’m pleasantly surprised that it’s not going to be as cold in Molde as I assumed it would, but it’s still going to be pretty butt-clenchingly frigid and maybe rainy. Considering that and the insane schedule for some of our guys lately, I really hope Mikel doesn’t play any players of relative importance other than Pepe.

Losing anyone else to injury–I’m still worried about Saka having not heard updates–would be worse than losing the game, I reckon.

AlexP

Cotrell has played at leftback and did a better job than Pepe does on his designated position, the kid is full of beans, has great passing range and IMO should be playing for first team sooner rather than later, Azeez >Xhaka

Start Balogun as a lone striker

santi's thigh grab

Would love to see him start.

Sylvain Won'tord

Molde sounds like a planet in star wars

arsepedant

I think it sounds more like the bread that the bakery can’t sell.

Name*

Nice to see the academy guys, and hope they get their chance and take it.

By the way, how does the bio-bubble thing work for these games, or is it not applicable?

Charles

You take the bubble along with you as you travel and blow it up when you get to your destination