Arsenal travel to Northampton for the first match of the EFL Trophy on Tuesday, making their second appearance in the competition.
Arsenal played in the EFL Trophy for the first time last season, qualifying from a group involving Cheltenham Town, Forest Green Rovers and Coventry City after two wins and a defeat.
Unfortunately, the u21s didn’t make it any further than that, losing 2-1 to eventual champions Portsmouth in the next round. The competition nonetheless gave platforms to the likes of Bukayo Saka, Joe Willock and Tyreece John-Jules to impress.
This time around, they’ve drawn Northampton Town, Cambridge United and Peterborough United in Group H, with Northampton and Arsenal to kick the group off.
The match will be played at the PTS Academy Stadium in Northampton at 19:30 on Tuesday night. Tickets are still available on their club website.
Let’s have a look at our predicted team for the match.
Predicted Lineup (4-3-3)
Karl Hein got a rather surprising start for the u23s against Everton on Friday. Unfortunately, his late mistake was costly in Arsenal throwing away their win to draw.
James Hillson should return to the starting lineup, with Arthur Okonkwo still out injured.
Rob Holding appears to have completed his rehabilitation with the youth teams at this stage, playing 90 minutes on Friday. As a result, Harry Clarke and Joseph Olowu are the obvious choices at centre-back, with Zech Medley injured.
At left-back, Tolaji Bola performed well on Friday and may soon be receiving first-team call-ups if Nacho Monreal’s transfer goes through. This will be another chance for him to prove himself, with Zak Swanson on the opposite side at right-back.
Emile Smith Rowe’s comeback is going well, but he’s still yet to play 90 minutes. The midfielder managed 77 on Friday before being replaced, so he’s likely to get another chance to build his fitness in this match.
Robbie Burton and Tyreece John-Jules both scored on Friday, so it’s hard to see either of them being dropped for this one. John-Jules has been playing an attacking-midfield/second-striker role for the u23s recently, and it’s going well at the moment.
Matt Smith appears to be injured, having missed out on the last couple of u23 squads.
James Olayinka has been relegated to a bench role despite his appearances in first-team pre-season, but it’s just hard to see who Arsenal leave out for him. Burton and John-Jules also impressed in pre-season, and Smith Rowe is essentially a first-team player once he gets fully fit.
Bukayo Saka played his first minutes of the season on Friday, and with no first-team game until Sunday, there’s no reason for him not to continue playing with the u21s for now. He’ll start on the left-wing, with Trae Coyle the most likely to play on the right.
Nathan Tormey is another option, after his goal against Brighton and a positive cameo against Everton.
Folarin Balogun should start up front, after three goals and an assist in his opening three games of the campaign. This will be a good chance for him to impress against senior opposition, with the League Cup and Europa League games coming up and Eddie Nketiah on loan.
Hillson; Swanson, Olowu, Clarke, Bola; Burton, Smith Rowe, John-Jules; Saka, Balogun, Coyle.