Arsenal u23s return from their winter break to face league leaders Derby County on Friday, in a PL2 clash at Meadow Park.
Arsenal are third in the PL2 table as it stands, with Chelsea and Derby ahead of them. Chelsea have a one-point advantage over the Gunners with a game in hand. Derby just have two points and no extra game.
As a result, Arsenal can take Derby’s place at the top of the table with a win on Friday, ahead of Chelsea’s game against Spurs next Monday.
The game is likely to be on Derby’s streaming service, RamsTV. If you want to attend, the match is free entry at Meadow Park, Borehamwood, 19:00 on January 3rd.
Unfortunately, the timing of the game isn’t great. Arsenal play Leeds United in the FA Cup on Monday, and any players hoping to play a part in that match surely can’t play the full 90 minutes in the PL2 on Friday as well.
Nonetheless, we’d expect Steve Bould to pick a strong team from the start. He just might make some early substitutions. Let’s have a look at our predicted lineup and team news for the clash.
Folarin Balogun made a couple of substitute appearances before the winter break, after returning from injury. He’s ready for starts now. Tyreece John-Jules is available, though he might play a part against Leeds. Nathan Tormey should complete the front three.
Though there hasn’t been an official update, Trae Coyle suggested on his Instagram page he’s had a setback. We’ll assume he’s out of this match as a result, hence the above trio starting together.
Matt Smith, Robbie Burton and James Olayinka are likely to start together in midfield. Emile Smith Rowe and Joe Willock will remain with the first team for the Leeds match.
In defence, Harry Clarke is back after his minor injury. He’ll probably start alongside Zech Medley. Personally, I’d start him with Mark McGuinness, but for whatever reason, Arsenal seem to see things differently.
Tolaji Bola and Zak Swanson will occupy the full-back roles as usual, with Karl Hein in goal.