Fans' Opinion

Lining up to Win

Author: . Published: at 10:47am

Written by : Harry Fitzpatrick

After last Saturday night’s loss at home to Newcastle, Moyes made 10 changes for the cup game against Charlton. That 3-0 win has created some selection headaches for our next game. It’s a trip to the Emirates to play an Arsenal side full of confidence after a 3-0 win against Fulham on Saturday afternoon and also buoyed by Aubameyang’s new contract.

It would be unlikely for the formation to differ far from the 4-2-3-1 that kept us up with a good run of form after lockdown. In goal, it is a no-brainer. It will take a Roberto-esque string of performances for Fabianski to lose the starting spot. At right back, Fredericks put in one of his better performances against Newcastle, and his pace will be a valuable asset against Arsenal’s rapid front three of Pepe, Willian and the aforementioned Aubameyang. For the same reason, I would go for Masuaku at left back. Alongside his pace, he has the ability to hurt Arsenal’s defence which is always vulnerable to a comical error. At centre back Ogbonna is a given. Balbuena and Diop are the only choices to partner him and despite never knowing which version of him will show up, Diop is the better option and should slot alongside Ogbonna in central defence. Balbuena hasn’t shown any form at all in months and you wonder whether Moyes rates him.

The two central midfielders have to be Rice and Soucek. Rice had a poor game last week but is by far the best player at the club and starts every game whilst we have him. Soucek also offers a physical side to his game which he can use to dominate aerial battles and will be a great threat from set pieces. Cullen had a great game on Tuesday, and it was brilliant to see him show everyone what he can offer us. However, this is a tough fixture to make his first Premier League start. He has definitely earned his matchday squad place though. Sat just in front of Rice and Soucek, I would put Fornals. He has been shoved out on the wing in favour of Noble recently, but he has earned a chance to be the central creator. It would be exciting to see what he can do from his favoured position.

Out on the left, it’s between Anderson and Snodgrass. Anderson is the better player, but his attitude is dreadful. When he can’t be bothered he is a liability, and leaves the left back one against two. What Snodgrass lacks in ability he makes up for in commitment and professionalism. He has the ability to score goals and a wicked set piece on him that causes defences all sorts of problems. Snodgrass gets the nod for me. With the low morale in the squad, I back Snoddy’s professionalism to come through over Anderson’s attitude.

On the right wing, Bowen and Yarmolenko are the options. I rate both of these highly and think they would walk into many teams starting XI’s. Whilst Bowen showed his class after joining in January, many people forget just how good Yarmolenko was before his horrific knee injury last December. He has a wand of a left foot and despite everyone knowing he will cut in and bend one into the far corner, nobody seems able to stop it. He also showed great speed, as he showed scoring the winner against Chelsea last season. I don’t think there is a wrong answer as to which one of the two start, but personally Yarmolenko pips Bowen to it.

Finally, up top its Haller or Antonio. Haller bagged two goals against Charlton in midweek and he should have grown in confidence, despite it being League One opposition. Antonio was unstoppable after lockdown and arguably deserves to keep his place. However, Haller is the £45 million man and Moyes has to find a way to get him firing. There are arguments to play both together, but Moyes seems reluctant to play two up front so it will be one or the other, and I think Antonio should get the nod. His unrelenting pressure and never give up attitude is worth rewarding and if he can force a mistake from a vulnerable Arsenal backline, it could be the difference between 1 point or 3.