It’s barely been 6 weeks since we played our first competitive game of the season and, already, we are gearing up for action in our third competition of the campaign. An unbeaten start to the League in which we’ve garnered 9 of the available 15 points, combined with a wake-up call in the Champions League, leaves us at fourth place in both competitions.
After successfully and comfortably lifting the pressures of going 3 games without a win in emphatic style at Villa, midweek engagements come knocking again, this time in a less-demanding league.
Injuries to key players especially in defence, with Debuchy now CONFIRMED to be out for 3 months at least, has necessitated the compulsory resting of some players for the home clas against Southampton in the League Cup, which would have always been the case anyway as Wenger is so wont to do. A mix of senior of players, who have been awaiting their chances for first team football this season, with up and coming scholars will likely be the team to face the saints on Tuesday evening, and from this pool, we profile a few who have a point to prove.
- David Ospina
He is the one player almost certain to start today, having fully recovered from the injury and post-World Cup fitness issues that came with him. Ospina says he is ready to take up the opportunity to prove himself in England, and his pedigree shows he couldn’t be wrong. There’s hardly any other team in the League who has a goalkeeper of his caliber watching on from the bench, bar maybe Chelsea. After a stellar World Cup campaign, Ospina’s stock rose above that of OGC Nice and now that he has come to the biggest club in the world, he has it within his grasp to force his way into playing every other weekend. The leagu cup has traditionally been Wenger’s nursery for young talents – it could well be the bedrock of Ospina’s rise to Arsenal glory.
2. Hector Bellerin
With Calum Chambers now set for an extended big-time role in the team (lad must be pinching himself!), it is forseeable that Hector Bellerin will also be made to step up in some capacity more demanding than he may have anticipated earlier. After gaining unconditional absolution for whatever wrong he may had done in Dortmund – and they were indeed not many – it is time for him to show forth the first fruits of his hardwork. Mind you, age wouldn’t be much of an excuse, as he is only 2 months younger than Calum Chambers.
3. Abou Diaby
How frustrating must it be to know how good you are but your body just seems not to let you be? Incredibly, Diaby has already come back and got injured and come back already this season. Having made the bench at Villa following a good game with the Under-21s (against same opponents), Diaby should get a good few minutes under his belt to gain some match-based fitness. He is certainly a handful on his day and his physical presence would really come in handy for us in big games later this season. If he’s paired with Rosciky in midfield, we might be seeing a pretty strong Plan B to what we currently regard as our first options.
4. Gedion Zelalem
The youngster who had all eyes on him last term, Gedion has even attracted a word of praise from the King himself, Thierry Henry. He may well be favoured in a starting role today, with the more experienced midfieders coming on later on. Either way, it will give the much-rated starlet another opportunity to stake a claim for more regular action with the first team. At 18, he’s hardly going to be expected to lay on assist after assist, but we would want to see aromas of that even if we don’t eventually get a taste of the broth.
5. Isaac Hayden
Mertesacker and Koscielny being our only available center halves at present, the academy captain may come into the team again this season as he did in the League Cup last term. He must have noticed that many players have graduated from the academy to the first team, but not an amazing lot from the defensive unit. A strong character, Isaac will be poised to see that he be considered as a viable candidate to come as a trustworthy option for the gaps in the defence.
6. Chuba Akpom
Chuba has always shown that he has so much potential to be a great Arsenal player. His little frame belies the enormous talent within. He ‘s had impressive displays this term, most recently his two goals in the under-21 game against Aston Villa. He must be wart, though, of the exploits of fellow young guns like Benik Afobe who has hit it off big time on loan. With the big Afobe to return next season, Chuba would see it in his best interest to ensure that he would have shown enough to be marked as part of the great future, probably to run things side by side with Benik when he returns.
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