The Roar
The Roar

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Opinion

Gunners look to consolidate top spot against Molde

Autoplay in... 6 (Cancel)
Up Next No more videos! Playlist is empty -
Replay
Cancel
Next
Roar Rookie
5th November, 2020
0

Fellow Gunners, have we finally settled down after that superb performance against Manchester United?

I am still coming down from it, but now attention turns to Arsenal’s 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 Arsenal.

A win would just about guarantee a top place finish for Arsenal barring a serious collapse while a draw or loss would be considered inexcusable.

The line-up should nearly be the same 11 that won 3-0 at home last time out against Dundalk. Runar Runarsson should get the nod in goal for Arsenal, as he was reasonably solid in his debut for the club. Although he did not have much to do, he was commanding in his area and his passing was effective when called upon.

In defence it could be much the same. Cedric Soares and Sead Kolasinac could come in at the expense of Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney, and in the heart of defence, Shodran Mustafi and David Luiz could be paired together after Luiz was deemed fit earlier in the week.

But it remains to be seen whether Mikel Arteta uses Granit Xhaka in the centre of the back three as he did against Dundalk.

Arsenal Head Coach Mikel Arteta

(Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

It represents a good opportunity for Gabriel to get a much needed rest however I expect either Rob Holding or him will be on the bench as cover.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Arsenal’s 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.

Arsenal’s 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 Arsenal 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-Niles 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 sitting second in their league standings, winning four out of their last five games in the division.

Arsenal will have to be switched on from the first whistle in this one to avoid a slip-up but after Arsenal’s exploits against United, that should not be an issue as Arsenal will be brimming with confidence after that result.

Advertisement
Advertisement

It is another chance for Arsenal’s 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. Arsenal will look to push on after their victory over United and maintain their 100 per cent record in the competition.

My team to face Molde is Runarsson, Maitland-Niles, Luiz, Mustafi, Kolasinac, Willock, Xhaka, Ceballos, Nelson, Nketiah and Pepe.