Arsenal U21s are playing Stoke U21s today - right now! - in Barclays U21 Premier League action, though this match will not be televised or streamed so we're basically just taking the clubs' words for it. Here's the starting XI and bench for the Arsenal U21 side:
.@Arsenal Under-21 substitutes: O’Connor, Huddart, Eyoma, Malen, Bennacer— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) November 20, 2015
Recent first-team benchee Alex Iwobi will lead the side. Daniel Crowley, who was either sent home by Barnsleyor recalled by Arsenal, depending on who you believe, also features. Regular U21 mainstays such as Kaylen Hinds, Stephy Mavididi, Chris Willock, Julio Pleguezuelo, Krystian Bielik(stock), Ben Sheaf, Glen Kamara are all here. New signees Ismael Bennacer and Donyell Malen are on the bench. But wait, someone is missing.
The first thought when an Arsenal player goes missing is, "is he hurt?" Well, we know JEFF (Reine-Adelaide, for the unenlightened) isn't hurt, he trained with the first-team today. We have proof.
"What does it mean?" you ask. We all know Hector Bellerin is set to return to the squad after his short injury spell. No attacking players have recovered from their ailments. Iwobi was our only attacker on the bench against Tottenham (unless you count billionaire energy tycoon/budding false 9 Mathieu Flamini). If Iwobi isn't making that bench, that leaves one spot open for an attacking player. That's where JEFF comes in.
Arsene Wenger does not have to make his decision now, but it seems assured that JEFF will at least be a part of the traveling squad and will have a good chance to make the bench. While Wenger could decide his best Plan B options are Kieran Gibbs and Flamini, as he used against Spurs, it seems a little risky to bank on those options.
In a related note, we dug around and discovered the first in what will no doubt be an award-winning series of JEFF noir fan-fiction, written by our own Travis King. What award will it win? Pulitzer? Nobel? Nobody's sure, but there'll probably be a giant novelty check awarded to go with it. Anyway:
With the street lights dimly dancing above, on a rain-soaked back alley on a cold, winter night in Islington, the detective coolly stubbed out his cigarette under his boot and looked at the man lying next to him. His right hand was placed just behind his head, with his left hand stuck out in a prone position. It appeared time stood eternally still for the deceased man, his existence cut short in the middle of doing a familiar move from a Los del Rio song.
The detective opened up his coat, pulled out a regulation association ball, and placed it on the man’s outstretched left hand. His partner looked bewildered.
"That life is behind you. It’s a part of your past. Why must you insist to always come back to it?" his partner pleaded.
The detective, his head lowered and eying the ball, slowly gazed up at his short, stubby partner, said "It me, the JEFF," and in one swoop kicked the ball towards the trash can 30 yards away, knocking it over, and exposing the Macarena killer hiding in the darkness.