Fellow Gooners have we finally settled down after that superb performance against Manchester United? I am still coming down from it, but now attention turns to our next Europa League clash against Molde.
Both teams have won their opening two games and are tied for first place in the group so this one has a little bit more importance for us. A win would just about guarantee a top place finish for us barring a serious collapse while a draw or loss would be considered inexcusable. Now let us talk about our line up for the match.
Honestly, it should nearly be the same eleven that won 3-0 at home last time out against Dundalk. Runar Runnarrson should get the nod in goal for us, as he was reasonably solid in his debut for the club although he did not have much to do however he was commanding in his area and his passing out was effective when called upon.
In defence it could be much the same, Cedric and Sead Kolasinac could come in at the expense of Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney, and in the heart of defence Mustafi and David Luiz could be paired together after Luiz was deemed fit earlier in the week but it remains to be seen whether Arteta uses Xhaka in the centre of the back three as he did against Dundalk. It represents a good opportunity for Gabriel to get a much-needed rest however I expect either Holding or him will be on the bench as cover.
Our midfield was humming at Old Trafford, but I expect wholesale changes for the Molde clash. Granit Xhaka and Dani Ceballos who were both unused substitutes in the win over United should both feature heavily alongside Joe Willock. Mo Elneny and Thomas Partey should be given the night off, while Ainsley Maitland Niles could also see some minutes as he did against Dundalk.
Our front three could consist of Nicolas Pepe and Reiss Nelson out wide with Eddie Nketiah through the middle as all three impressed last time out. Reiss Nelson was nothing short of excellent against Dundalk and he will be looking for another assured performance to put further pressure on Mikel Arteta to have him in the Premier League squad regularly.
Ultimately what formation we play will decide who gets some minutes. Last time it was a 3-4-3 with Mustafi, Xhaka, and Kolasinac at the back, Cedric and Maitland Nines as the wing-backs, and then the front three of Pepe, Ntekiah, and Nelson. I expect much of the same with Elneny potentially dropping out for Ceballos.
Anything other than a win will be a serious upset, especially seeing as Arsenal are at home. Molde are no pushovers, however, winning both of their Europa League games and currently sit second in their league standings, winning four out of their last five games in the division.
We will have to be switched on from the first whistle in this one to avoid a slip-up but after our exploits against United, that should not be an issue as we will be brimming with confidence after that result.
It is another chance for our fringe players to get some minutes into their legs and look to push their cases to get into the Premier League side by catching Mikel Arteta’s eye during these group stage matches. We will look to push on after our victory over United and maintain our 100% record in the competition.
My team to face Molde
Runnarsson, Maitland Niles, Luiz, Mustafi, Kolasinac, Willock, Xhaka, Ceballos, Nelson, Nketiah, Pepe.