Arsenal u21s take on Cambridge United in the EFL Trophy on Tuesday, with pride the only thing at stake for Steve Bould’s side.
The top two teams in each EFL Trophy group qualify for the next round of the competition, but a top-two finish is already out of reach for the Gunners.
Northampton have played all three of their games, finishing on five points, whilst Peterborough have played two and won two to make it to six. Arsenal have one point after two games, so even a win would leave them one short of Northampton.
Cambridge United have only played one game so far, losing to Northampton, but they can keep their own qualification hopes alive with a win or a draw followed by a win on penalties – which earns you two points in this competition.
As a result, it’s not going to be an easy game for the Gunners, away in Cambridge on Tuesday at 19:30 BST. They’ll want to get one win on the board before exiting the tournament though. Let’s have a look at our predicted team for the fixture.
Even though he’s spent most of his time with the first-team as their third-choice goalkeeper this season, Matt Macey started both of the previous EFL Trophy matches. We expect him to get the nod again ahead of Karl Hein, despite Hein being first choice in the PL2.
It’s unlikely there will be any changes from the defence that helped Arsenal beat Tottenham Hotspur u23s on Friday. Tolaji Bola and Zak Swanson will take the full-back positions, as they honestly don’t have much competition right now.
Konstantinos Mavropanos and Harry Clarke are expected to play at centre-back, though Zech Medley, Joseph Olowu and Mark McGuinness are just waiting for their chance to break back into the side.
Robbie Burton and Matt Smith have been doing well as a deep midfield partnership in recent weeks, so we expect them to continue that run in the team together.
Ahead of them, Emile Smith Rowe started on Friday, but after completing 90 minutes it seems pretty likely he’ll rejoin the senior side for their trip to Vitoria. Ben Cottrell should take his place in the u21 team.
With Folarin Balogun out injured, Tyreece John-Jules should start on this occasion. Trae Coyle will keep his place on the right, whilst Nathan Tormey should come in on the left after his goal against Spurs.
Reiss Nelson started that match, and it is still possible he continues his recovery from injury with another match here. We’re not ruling it out, but given Nelson was only injured for a month he doesn’t necessarily need multiple youth games to get up to speed again.