A very quick Tuesday blog for you, starting with Arsenal naming their 25 man ‘A list’ for this season’s Champions League. It is very much as you would expect, with no Jurrien Timber because of his injury – he can be added in January if we make the knock-out stages.
There’s also room for Cedric who in all likelihood won’t play very much, but seeing as we’re down a defender and he’s still at the club, we’ve named him in the squad. We’ve also named 18 year old left-back Lino Sousa in the main group, which is primarily because he doesn’t fit the criteria for the B List, essentially U21 players who have been at the club at least two years.
That would include most of the Academy players, but Sousa signed from West Brom in January 2022, so he had to be included on the main list. Whether or not he plays is another question, but he is quite highly rated, and in Timber’s absence, I’d prefer to give any possible minutes to a young player who would benefit from the experience than a veteran like Cedric who has no real role to play in our future. Lino, all night long. Cedric, not so much.
That does depend on their readiness though, and Mikel Arteta has been somewhat cautious with regards young players during his time here. Gabriel Martinelli is a great example of someone for whom fans were clamouring to see in the team, but the manager resisted a bit until he felt he was absolutely ready. And, in truth, until there was more space in the squad due to the fall-out with Pierre Emerick Aubameyang.
Our first Champions League game since 2017 takes place next Wednesday when we take on PSV at home, and this is where the season starts to really get going. Combining domestic and European football with expectations high is going to be a bit of a challenge, let’s hope it’s one we can meet. Obviously we’ll talk more about all that closer to the time.
Later today there are internationals featuring some of our players. Norway have a Euro 2024 qualifier against Georgia, so I assume Martin Odegaard will be front and centre for them, while Leandro Trossard could feature for Belgium in their qualifier against Estonia. Ukraine and Oleksandr Zinchenko are in Italy, the three Gabis are away with Brazil so we’ll keep an eye on how many minutes they play, while there are friendlies which could see Tomiyasu play again for Japan.
England take on Scotland, and hopefully Eddie Nketiah makes the match-day squad having missed out at the weekend. Maybe Aaron Ramsdale might get a game too. More than that, however, I hope Gareth Southgate doesn’t feel the need to play Bukayo Saka in a game like this. There’s just no need to start him in a friendly, not least because of how much he plays for club and country already, but also to maybe give someone else a chance.
Southgate doesn’t really do much in the way of experimentation though. He sticks with what he knows, hence the selection of players like Jordan Henderson and Harry Maguire who have served him well, but don’t really merit inclusion ahead of some of the other players at England’s disposal. We had a lot of questions for the Arsecast Extra about Ben White and his continued omission from the England squad, but it’s very clear that’s a situation that has nothing at all to do with footballing ability or form – much like picking Maguire (except in reverse, if you see what I mean).
Anyway, I look forward to Saka playing 121 minutes including all the added on time for England. Speaking of the Arsecast Extra it’s below if you fancy a listen, I’m gonna leave it there for now. Have a good one.