Odd Job Man
The growth of statistical analysis in modern football has led to a surge in previously unheard of jobs. Sunderland are offering one of the easier that you’ll find:
£60 a day for writing, “The opposition have got it. Still got it. Still going. Back of the Sunderland net. We kick-off. They’ve got it back…”; money for old rope.
So, the EFL Cup. What to say…what to say? Of course I care about it in the sense that I don’t want Arsenal to lose any match, even a friendly but if we exit the competition, it won’t cause me sleepless nights.
Nor Arsène judging by the tam he’s all but announced. We know Martinez will be in goal with a back four of Jenkinson, Gabriel, Holding and Gibbs.
Midfield appears to be the biggest dilemma. With West Ham and Basel to follow, I’d be inclined to put Elneny and Ramsey together tonight, saving Coquelin and Xhaka for the bigger games. Coquelin will most likely be on the bench as cover for tight back should the worst occur.
Lucas Perez returning to lead the line is timely; Arsène was relieved to report Olivier Giroud’s groin was the problem not his hamstring after Sunday. You can insert your own Carry On style joke here.
The XI is picking itself; most of the untried and untested I’d venture, are likely to be on the bench with the midfield completed by Iwobi and the Ox plus maybe Maitland-Niles.
Martinez; Jenkinson, Holding, Gabriel, Gibbs; Elneny, Ramsey; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Iwobi, Reine-Adelaide; Perez
Look, it could be anyone tonight. The boss underlined that he’s not going to play any of the ‘regulars’ but that goes out of the window because he has to play some to get an XI together which is not too youthful and raw. Southampton are playing the same game which begs the question as to why any club bothered to enter the EFL Trophy when most of the academies are playing the EFL Cup?
Emi Martinez is already thinking beyond tonight’s game and of Wembley which for the younger players has to be the motivation and getting into the habit of winning trophies is good for them. Liverpool showed last night that the Premier League has the depth – certainly the top teams – to get a long way, especially missing out a round due to European commitments.
Certainly gaining experience in these matches helps when it comes to the semi-final. Two legs, two extra games in a busy time of the season; there’s not time to spare the regular first team players and experience of ‘high pressure’ matches helps the squad in other situations.
It’s been a while since we’ve reached the last four – 2011 – and with limited opportunities to play in the first team, these are important games as part of their learning curves. However, it’s more beneficial to the rest of the experienced first teamers that aren’t playing every week to get match sharpness in the short-term. And football is nothing but short-term in its outlook.
With so much riding on every other competition, the EFL Cup is something of a relief from a supporters point of view. There is pressure, of course, but this is becoming little more than a glorified preseason tournament with a route into Europe for the winners.
A glorious past didn’t deter UEFA from killing off the UEFA Cup, time for the EFL to put this one to bed as well. It’s close to retirement anyway. This is about the 63rd edition of the competition; another four years and the pension can be drawn.
Finally, over at Dad’s Jukebox, 1982 is on the radar with The End Of An Era.
Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.