Having played 4 consecutive home games, it’s now time to go travelling and our first match of the week will find us in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan as we continue our quest in the Europa Cup. Qarabag Agdam FK will be our opponents and they are no strangers to this competition, having joined the Europa Cup competition in the past three seasons due to not making it into the Group stages in the Champions League. This season is the same story, having played three teams in the qualifying rounds, eventually losing out to BATE Borisov. They still needed to get through pre-qualification of the Europa Cup where they came up against Sheriff from Moldova but they were able to shoot them down, winning at home 3 – 0 after losing the first leg away 1 – 0. They came up against Sporting CP in their first match of the Europa competition this season which they lost 2 – 0. Again, this is a match that we should win, albeit away from home. Sp*rs came up against them in the 2015/6 competition where they only managed a 1 – 0 victory away from home. It will also be interesting to see whether Mkhitaryan boards the flight when Arsenal set out for the Azerbaijani capital during the week as Azerbaijan have banned Armenians from entering the country over tensions between the bordering rivals (I see later reports indicating that he won’t travel). I’m sure Emery can find enough players to cover for Mhiki so as not to cause too much of an issue around this situation. The other talking point I expect will be the goalkeeping situation. With Cech out with a hamstring, will Emiliano Martinez have his first game of the season and if so who will Emery select for his reserve on the bench? Will it be the Macedonian academy player Deyan Iliev or will he resort to Leno? (Probably Leno as it looks as though Iliev played for the U23s on Monday).
There are reports about the tight schedule with the team only getting back to London at 4am on Friday and they need to prepare for their away game to Fulham which is a midday (1pm SA time) kick off on Sunday. Personally, it doesn’t look too tight for me and an away fixture to Fulham means turning right at the bottom of the road and travelling a few kilometres extra! Anyhow he has a full squad to play with minus Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Koscielny and will probably have the likes of Emile Smith-Rowe and Eddie Nketiah to choose from so I’m sure he won’t be too troubled in making the right selections. Plus the game starts early on Thursday, 18h55, so I’m sure all in all a very manageable situation.
The weekend’s match against Fulham as I said is a 1pm kick off on Sunday and will be our last game until a fortnight later due to the international break. This could be quite a tricky one as I believe Mitrovic, who has already scored five goals this season will be quite a handful. Based on this I’d like to see Emery start Sokratis and Holding as Mustafi remains the liability that he is and although he can be quite useful in the opposition’s box, we cannot afford those mistakes that turn a very controllable situation into a panic stricken, hair tearing sequence of events which generally lead to a goal being conceded. Maybe we can start with Iwobi as he injected some much needed forward momentum against Watford last week and it appears as though he’s brimming with confidence. This would probably be at the expense of Ramsey who really has nowhere to play when Ozil is on the pitch, and in my opinion Ozil must always start. The remainder of the team must be as we started last week except of course for the goalkeeper due to Cech’s injury.
On the fantasy side, and not much new in the FPL. Top stays top and second and third swap places. Steven Cohen’s gunning on did the business this week with a top score of 86 and that was mainly due to him choosing Harry Kane as his captain. Steven, Steven, Steven, don’t you know that you could earn a life time ban for chosing a Sp*rs player as your captain!! Anyhow, we’ll let you off with just a gentle warning. This is how the league is looking:
Wolves of Witkoppen Richard Mackenzie 446
Bafan’ Abafun FC Sibongumusa Shongwe 437
Bicurate James McGillivray 431
In the Superbru league, although the top spot is retained, we have two new faces at second and third. This week’s top scorer is last year’s overall winner of the ArsenalSA league,Leonardo Geral with a highly impressive 23 points. 6 exact scores and two close scores gave him probably the largest points haul in one week that we’ve had in our ArsenalSA league. Well done Leonardo!! That moves him up 13 places to 18th. The top of the Superbru league looks like this:
Both games are being televised and all in good time for you not to miss your bed time. I was the only one at the club for our opener against FC Vorskla a couple of weeks back so come on down on Thursday for what is a relatively early kick off and then onto Sunday where it’s a lazy afternoon starting at 1pm. So, see y’all there at The Brazenhead and have yourselves some fun.