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Arsenal v Dundalk the unconfirmed confirmed confirmations of the teams

by Bulldog Drummond

In the last couple of years a number of newspapers have started to put up headlines which say “the confirmed teams” a day or two before the match.  The details that follow are nothing of the sort – the club doesn’t actually confirm the team until one hour before kick off at which point the team sheets are handed to the referee who then passes them on to his or her officials and to the other team.

Hence my little nonsense in the headline.  Nothing is confirmed.  Not even the end of the world – although that is predicted in the book of Revelations if you want to take a quick peek.  No mention of today’s match there however, so we should be ok.

But I digress.  Today the Standard has a new twist with “Confirmed early team news” but they don’t give us a lineup.   In fact it is nothing of the kind, but is instead an attack on Arsenal’s transfer policy as they say that…

“Arsenal have just two centre-backs available for the match at Emirates Stadium as Sokratis Papastathopoulos and William Saliba were not registered for the Europa League, while Calum Chambers, Pablo Mari and Rob Holding are, like Luiz, not fit to feature.”

Oh, so it could be an upset then!  How exciting!

Anyway, the two centre backs should be, according to pretty much everyone, Shkodran Mustafi and Gabriel Magalhaes.

The BBC have a feature on Reiss Nelson saying, “Arteta could hand Reiss Nelson a taste of European football after the Spanish boss revealed the club looked to loan out the forward during the summer – but Nelson wanted to stay to fight for his place.

“The 20-year-old started three of the first four games of Arteta’s reign as Arsenal manager but has so far only managed 81 minutes of first-team action this season.”

But I wonder, why is the nationality of Arteta relevant at this point?

Sportsmole do have a go at the team with


Soares, Mustafi, Gabriel, Kolasinac;

Elneny, Ceballos;

Nelson, Willock, Pepe;


The Hard Tackle go with the same players but a different positional selection…


Cedric, Mustafi, Gabriel, Kolasinac;

Ceballos, Elneny, Willock;

Pepe, Nketiah, Nelson

90 min tell us how to watch it on TV.  Last time I looked one either turned the set on and found the station or (in my case, not being one who wants to give BT Sprout a penny of my hard earned cash) trot off to a pub with the TV and buy a pint.  That way you get a drink and its cheaper than a subscription.

They do however oblige us with a different line up


Cedric, Mustafi, Gabriel, Kolasinac;

Willock, Elneny, Maitland-Niles;

Smith Rowe, Nketiah, Nelson.

The Short fuse provides another variation


Maitland-Niles, Mustafi, Gabriel, Kolasinac;

Ceballos, Elneny, Willock;

Pepe, Nketiah, Willian

Sqwaka cheat a little bit by offering us the line up for the game against Leicester, which I don’t think really helps too much.

Finally the opposition manager, Filippo Giovagnoli,  has been having his say on the matters in hand.  He’s an interesting guy having only played one season in the third tier of Italian football before he retired in 2003, and started coaching at the lower levels, with the under 19 team of Serie C club Gubbio 1910.

But then he got a rapid rise, working as technical director of AC Milan Soccer Camps in Italy and then by 2014 in the USA where he gained his A licence.  And his knowledge of English, which fits in well with working in Ireland.

He became interim head coach of Dundalk on 25th August 2020 until the end of this season after the previous manager Vinny Perth was dismissed when Dundalk were beateb by NK Celje in the first qualifying round of Champions League this season.  Celje won the Slovenian league last season, so it is not quite like being beaten by a team from San Marino.

Speaking of Arsenal he said, “We just need to try to make them uncomfortable.  The difference in quality is obvious. What a lightweight can do with a heavyweight is they have to work more. If you get close to them then they’re going to kill you.

“There’s not really a way to compare the two sports in terms of performance because a lightweight eventually has to run more. How is it possible to run more than Arsenal?

“We just have to match their intensity for a part of the game and stay focused and play with passion and with these kind of characteristics.”

Which is actually a much fairer and more open way of talking before the game that we normally get from managers of lower league teams.  Hence our decision to cover his comments.  He seems a decent bloke.

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