Sambi, Maitland-Niles or Elneny if Arteta stays 4231 at Brighton?


Today we take the trip up to Brighton for the early evening fixture. Given the events of Guendouzi/Maupay-gate a little bit of a feud has built up between Arsenal and Brighton fans and players alike.

Nothing sinister of course but Arsenal fans certainly remember the challenge by Maupay which resulted in a long term injury to first choice keeper Bernt Leno. Some may have identified that as a blessing in disguise as that turn of events led to the emergence of Emi Martinez as a credible first choice keeper (and if you want to keep going with the 6 degrees of separation it led to the signing of Thomas Partey).

Either way there is an ongoing love/hate relationship with Arsenal fans and Maupay whilst it’s yet to be seen if there is any ill feeling from the Brighton fans towards summer signing and former player Ben White.


Big day for Ben

Will certainly be an emotional experience for him back at the club that helped elevate him into the spotlight of Premiership and England fans alike. Sadly he’s missed out on a recent England squad call up but Gareth Southgate gave his reasons for that decision and the door is far from closed on him. Carry on with his good integration at Arsenal and he will certainly be challenging for starts and not just squad inclusions.

So we take on a Brighton team who have made a pretty decent start to the season, sitting in 6th place having lost only one game. Could have been two games but for a literal last kick of the game equaliser against Crystal Palace in their last game on Monday.

In recent weeks Brighton has managed to find a couple injury time last minute goals to salvage and/or win games. Certainly something Mikel Arteta will be aware of and be sure to ensure his team stay focused.

One booster that works in our favour is the current injured players not available to Brighton tonight. Important players like Adam Webster and Danny Welbeck make things a little more positive for the Gunners. Danny Welbeck as a former player always carries the threat of the former player curse which always seems to affect the Arsenal. Whether his attacking prowess is not as dangerous as in previous years he still provides an outlet and had been an important player for Brighton thus far.

Adam Webster having gotten injured a few weeks back in their game against Brentford was a mainstay of their defence up til that point. Allowing them to utilise their three at the back defensive line up Graham Potter prefers. He has other options to utilise in the back three such as Dan Burn although the tall defender has often operated as a full back.


Huge miss for home side

A back four is not alien to Brighton and has been utilised a couple times this season however that back four came with the extra protection of Yves Bissouma shielding the defence. The Mali international is probably the biggest name on the casualty list. Although not 100% ruled out it seems tonight might be a little too soon for the midfield enforcer.

Graham Potter may well risk him given his importance to the team but it’s fair to say Arsenal’s chances of getting a desired result jumps up exponentially without him there.

Love him or loathe him Neal Maupay is the danger man that Ben White and Gabriel need to keep an eye on. The goals have been flowing for the Frenchman with 4 goals in 6 games so far this season. A lot has been made of a tweet from Brighton about tonight’s fixture whilst using an image of Maupay to promote. In all honesty I don’t think it’s a big deal, Brighton send out similar tweets before each fixture they have and use an image of each of the players for each one. The default Maupay image is on him doing his signature cry celebration and is used every time he scores. Yes, they could have used any other player for the Arsenal fixture but I don’t think there is anything too deep to suggest it’s any type of goading or baiting using him. I’m certainly not going to lose any sleep over an image of a player used to promote a game.

The biggest question from an Arsenal perspective is whether Mikel Arteta will avoid the temptation to change a winning line up. Of course one choice is enforced due to the unfortunate injury suffered by Granit Xhaka. Other than that a full squad is at his disposal.

0 Maitland-Niles-1

Chance for AMN?

It opens the question who will come in to replace the Switzerland captain? Ainsey Maitland Niles has been strengthening his cause for a midfield berth. Having stuck to his guns in the belief that is the position is his to fight for, Arteta has given him opportunities to stake a claim this season. Although he hasn’t pulled out 10/10 performances each time he has proved himself more than capable in holding his own there. I maintain with a fully fit squad he drops down the pecking order but he has in recent weeks provided food for thought to the Arsenal manager which may not have been a possibility before the recent transfer window closed.

Sambi Lokonga is of course a player who has taken to the Arsenal team like a duck to water, he is perfectly capable of claiming the vacant midfield position his own but this all depends on whether Mikel will be a bit more cautious in his integration and not throw too much responsibility at the feet of the young Belgian too soon.

    A5C48EEA-69B5-4F4B-B998-C1E125445983Or maybe Sambi?

The third option is the return of Mohammed Elneny, someone with all the experience and nous to slot into the midfield. He has often deputised for Xhaka in the past keeping things simple and sticking to what he is instructed. This probably works against him with the fans as there are no bells and whistles when it comes to Elneny, you know what you are going to get. Safe, steady yet unspectacular performances from the Egyptian. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea but it’s welcome to have that type of player to utilise in our squad.

In terms of those knocking on the door, Martinelli, Lacazette and Pepe will be waiting in the wings to get their chance. With no European football available there really are limited opportunities to give the squad minutes on the pitch and it really adds to the competition that firstly those who start need to maintain a high level of performance and secondly those who are waiting to come in take their chances when they do arise.

It will be interesting to see how the team lines up. My gut tells me Arteta will remain unchanged with Maitland Niles coming in for Xhaka but I’ve been wrong plenty times in the past. We will see how it goes, what do you think Arteta will go with? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Let’s get those three points tonight Arsenal!

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2 Responses to Sambi, Maitland-Niles or Elneny if Arteta stays 4231 at Brighton?

  1. ODONGO SIMON October 2, 2021 at 1:46 pm #

    To me i think Mikel Arteta will start with Sambi. We have yearned for his partnership with Partey and i believe this is a right time

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