Our Premier League woes continue, but our Europa League exploits are far removed from our domestic troubles.
Four wins from four mean that top spot is already wrapped in the group and we can go into this game with Rapid Wien with a view to stretching the legs of some of our lesser-spotted stars.
It’s one of the few games that we know we will be saving our big names for the weekend.
Because, let’s face it, there isn’t many bigger games for us than the North London Derby.
Mikel Arteta will know that a loss to our rivals will further compound the pressure that currently sits on his shoulders, but a win could be the catalyst to improved results.
So, he will likely use this game to rotate heavily and keep his stars wrapped in cotton wool.
So, this will give us fans a chance to see our kids in action.
With our Europa League prospects already sorted – this game could not only be a platform for our youth prospects to push on and remind their manager of their talents – but for some players to stake their claim for the big game this weekend.
Arteta, will you shuffle the entire pack? Or will you give some of you r first teamers another opportunity to gain some form?
David Luiz will miss this game with the head injury he suffered against Wolves. He could be available for the weekend though.
Sead Kolasinac and Mo Elneny should have the full bill of health they need after quarantining for two weeks, and could be in for a first start in a while.
Thomas Partey is fighting to be fit for the NLD, so the Ghana midfielder will definitely miss out here. Other than that and the usual absentees – Calum Chambers, Gabriel Martinelli and Pablo Mari – we will have a full squad to choose from.
Nicolas Pepe will almost certainly play as he is still serving a three match suspension in the Premier League, but available in Europe. That will mean Reiss Nelson will likely be saved for the Tottenham game.
Other than that, it could be a straight fight between Eddie Nketiah, Alexandre Lacazette and Folrain Balogun for the striker spot.
Player to Watch
The striker is in rich form in the Austrian League so far. Four goals in nine games is a decent return and shows a player enjoying a decent run in form. He has nine in 17 in all competitions so far so when it comes to danger, Kara is one of them for Rapid. He is accurate, handy when it comes to physicality and doesn’t really have a weakness. Kara will be the man they look for in the box.
How this could go
We will not so much look to the result in this game – we will be looking for our kids getting minutes. Rapid are a decent team and will be a good test for them. Balogun, Smith-Rowe, these two will be who we are wanting to see.
But there will be other players looking to stake a claim and from who Arteta picks here, we could get a good gauge on who Arteta will pick for this weekend’s crunch NLD.
For instance; if Elneny starts here, that would mean Xhaka and Ceballos will have the edge for the weekend. Ditto Lacazette, Willian, Eddie and our defence.
A win would be good to goa short way in erasing our defeat to Wolves this past weekend, but we want a clean bill of health, our youngsters getting some minutes and some goals. That would be a great start.
Predicted Lineup – Runarsson, Cedric, Mustafi, Holding, Kolasinac, Elneny, Willock, AMN, Pepe, Willian, Nketiah
Predicted Scoreline – 2-1 to The Arsenal
This is a tough one to predict, have a go here.