Oct 2nd, 2019 by ‘holic
If you are something of a fossil you will recall with clarity and pleasure our first coming together with Standard Liege in our successful 1993/4 Cup-Winners Cup campaign. We brushed the aside 3-0 at home and 0-7 away. Imagine an English club scoring 7 away from home. Surely no shambles of a club could concede 7 at home? Our second and last meeting in the Champions League group phase in 2009/10 ended with two more wins, 2-3 in Belgium and 2-0 at home. Can we make it 6 out of 6 this season?
The official club website is adamant that only Emile Smith Rowe and Alexandre Lacazette are unavailable for selection. That gives Emery one choice to make in the back four for me. Surely he will want to at least start Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney as full-backs? Rob Holding surely gets another match under his belt left of centre with Calum Chambers and Shkodran Mustafi in contention for the right side. Of course Calum would be the popular choice but Mustafi’s experience could be invaluable in a young defence and his record in European competition is not that ropey.
How young do we want to go with the pairing ahead of them? It’s an opportunity perhaps to pair Ainsley Maitland-Niles in a preferred role alongside perhaps Joe Willock? Mr safety first may opt to retain Lucas Torreira for one of them, As long as he is told to sit in front of the defence and head off any danger at the pass that would be welcome.
A creative midfield trio with added goal threat? Let’s not risk burn out for Bukayo Saka when we have Reiss Nelson and Gabriel Martinelli chomping at the bit. Saka has become too important to the Premier League side while Lacazette is sidelined. On that basis it might be an idea for Nicolas Pepe to have another chance on the right flank against the sort of defence he is more used to from his days on the continent. He needs a confidence boost. Mesut central, anyone?
If Nelson starts on the left Martinelli would be a good call to lead the line, as against Forest last week. There is potential aplenty in that starting line-up, and the Carabao Cup/Europa League teams appear to have expressed themselves far better than the first team, whether by choice or design. I suspect the former.
Both clubs are looking to top group F after opening day wins. Standard winning 2-0 at home to Portuguese visitors Vitória, while we went to Frankfurt and posted an impressive 3-0 away win. Standard arrive at Arsenal on a run of three clean sheets in the competition, home and away. They currently sit in a Champions League qualifying second place in Belgium with 19 points from 9 matches. This could be an absorbing contest.
The ‘holic pound
As I have already said, I like the way the youngsters and squad players have approached their opportunities this season. I have been drawn like a moth to the flame of 3-1 to The Arsenal at 10/1. Shop around for 21/2.
The ABW Preview
For this game Danny has been joined by Richard, please see below.
Have a good one, ‘holics.