Arsenal play host to AFC Wimbledon in the third round of the Carabao Cup today. The Dons sit 7th in EFL League One on 12 points from 8 matches. As we know, the Gunners got off to a brutal start to the season, with bad injury and illness luck exacerbating one of the more difficult opening schedules for any club in the Premier League. But Mikel Arteta seems to have the side headed in the right direction, and he’ll want to maintain the momentum and positive vibes at the club heading into the North London Derby this weekend. I expect a rotated but strong lineup from the Arsenal manager.
Fun fact about Wimbledon: they have a “substitution coach” that The Athletic featured last week. It’s a cool story and an interesting innovation. Sammy Lander, a 25-year old who has never played professional football and is blind in one eye from a childhood car crash, contacted the club early on in the COVID-19 shutdown to offer his services. He’d been doing analysis for Weymouth, who were at that time in the Southern Premier League, and the Dons brought him on as a part-time trial hire.
While not groundbreakingly revolutionary, Lander takes a different approach with Wimbledon’s substitutes. For starters, he refers to them as “finishers” rather than “substitutes” to remove some of the negative connotation of being second choice. To him, who finishes the match is nearly as important as who starts it.
Lander has also recognized what a lot of observers have noticed but, as far as I know, never been specifically targeted / implemented — substitutes need time to come into the match before they can really make an impact. To combat that, he puts the substitutes through, essentially, a second warm-up during the halftime break to give them as many touches of a ball as possible.
And Lander’s work seems to have made an impact at the margins. Wimbledon have had 6 of their 15 goals scored or assisted by a substitute. There are 13 clubs in League One that have yet to have a single goal or assist from a sub.
For more on the Dons (also sometimes called The Wombles, which amuses me), check out Nathan’s Q&A from earlier this week — he got in touch with a Wimbledon blogger and a Wimbledon podcast to get the inside scoop. Also be sure to take a look at Nathan’s Predicted XI for how he thinks Mikel Arteta will line up his charges today.
Arsenal - Leno, Cedric, Holding, Mari, Tavares, Sambi, Partey, Maitland-Niles, Martinelli, Nketiah, Lacazette
Wimbledon - Tzanev, Guinness-Walker, Nightingale, Heneghan, Lawrence, Hartigan, Woodyard, McCormick, Rudoni, Assal, Palmer
WHAT: Arsenal vs. AFC Wimbledon
WHERE: Emirates Stadium
WHEN: Wednesday, September 22 11:45 pm PT | 2:45 pm ET | 7:45 pm BT
US TV: Not broadcast. Not streamed.
Unfortunately, today’s match isn’t available in the United States and isn’t being broadcast or streamed in the UK, either. For all your international streaming needs, check LiveSoccerTV.com, although they don’t seem to have many options available either.
I’d wager your best bet is the commentary on the Arsenal website and to follow along on Twitter from the journalists at the match. I’ll do my best to retweet important bits from them on TSF’s twitter.
It should go without saying at this point, but do not share or discuss links to illegal streams here. It may be especially tempting to do so given the lack of options for watching, but if you do, you will get a posting time-out and may be banned altogether from commenting, and nobody wants that.