Arsenal hammered Tottenham Hotspur 6-0 on Sunday to end their preseason in positive fashion, so now we should be able to work out Joe Montemurro’s first choice XI.
Following three defeats against Champions League sides and a behind-closed-door win against West Ham, it was good to get back to winning ways in front of a big Borehamwood crowd.
The squad is currently set with Joe Montemurro confirming on Sunday that he was happy with the current crop of players. The transfer window will close on 5th September, only a few days after the players come back from international duty.
Here are the four starting 11s selected by Joe Montemurro against FC Bayern, Wolfsburg, Barcelona and Spurs:
So, what can we deduce from those four games, in terms of the best possible 11?
Here are the numbers of starts so far, with the caveat that some players came back late due to the World Cup.
Four starts (4)
Zinsberger, Beattie, Veje, Little, McCabe
Three starts (5)
Maier, Evans, Williamson, Roord, Van De Donk
Two starts (3)
Schnaderbeck, Mead, Miedema
One start or none
Peyraud-Magnin ( inj), Stenson, Mitchell, Kemme, Nobbs, Wälti, Carter (inj), Grant, Filis, Flores.
The most logical starting 11 would be as follows in the 4-3-3 system: Zinsberger; Maier, Williamson, Beattie, Veje; Roord, Van De donk, Little; McCabe, Miedema, Mead.
What kind of squad rotation can we expect?
GK: Pauline Peyraud-Magnin should get games as soon as she is back from injury. Third choice Fran Stenson is currently deputising for her on the bench and made her debut against Spurs with a fantastic save to deny Gemma Davison
CB: Louise Quinn is the first choice back-up at the moment, having seemingly lost her starting place to Jennifer Beattie. Viktoria Schnaderbeck is the fourth centre-back choice.
RB: Lisa Evans and Tabea Kemme can cover at right-back, especially Evans who was fantastic there last season.
LB: Emma Mitchell is the natural cover with Katie McCabe able to do a job as well. Leonie Maier also played there against Spurs for a few minutes.
DM: There is no natural cover for Lia Wälti and Arsenal are playing without a number 6 at the moment. Leah Williamson was used there in preseason. Silvana Flores is a potential back-up but she is still on 17 and learning her trade.
CM & AM: Jordan Nobbs is back and will be going into the rotation alongside Danielle van de Donk, Jill Roord and Kim Little. Youngsters, Ruby Grant and Melissa Filis, both 18, should also see some game time.
Forwards: Lisa Evans, Tabea Kemme and Danielle van de Donk on the wings can be used in those positions.
Now, if we look at a very busy fixture list in September with six games in 21 days, it will mean compulsory squad rotation to keep the players fresh. Otherwise, keeping the same starting 11 more or less for the six games would be pushing players in the red zone too early in the season.
First, we will have the league opener against West Ham at home Sun 8 Sep.
Then, four days later, away in the Champions League to Fiorentina. Obviously, the best 11 is expected to start against West Ham and again in the Champions League even though two or three changes might happen at centre-back, midfield, and on the wing.
Another four days later, the first big four games against United away on a Monday night. With the games starting to pile-up, you would expect fresh blood to be brought in at this stage.
Then, finally, a full week’s rest before an away game in the Conti Cup against Championship team London City Lionesses allowing full squad rotation and a chance for the players who have not started a game. The three youngsters should also get game time here.
Four days later will be the Champions League second leg at home to Fiorentina and barely three days later the third league game at home to Brighton.
So, probably back to the first 11 and a bit of rotation for two or three players at the Brighton game.
That’s why Arsenal need a big squad this season to ensure last season’s situation does not happen again when seven first teamers were all out and replaced by Academy players.
With the international break coming up, Joe Montemurro will hope that no-ones picks up an injury in the following two weeks.