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Two starting XIs for Arsenal’s Dubai Super Cup

Arteta names as 27-man squad for the two-match trip to Dubai

Arsenal v Watford: Friendly Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

While the World Cup progresses through the knockout stages Arsenal are headed off to Dubai for some mid-season break friendlies. The Gunners are set to face Lyon on Thursday (12/8) and then AC Milan a few days later (12/13). Liverpool will also be at the event, but the two English sides will not play one another. Mikel Arteta has named a 27-man squad, including quite a few U21 and U18 players, to make the trip for the Dubai Super Cup.

With the likes of Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Jesus, and both goalkeepers absent, who can Arteta name to a first and second-choice starting XI?

First-choice Starting XI

  • A squad that could mostly play in the Premier League. A backline of Zinchenko, Gabriel, Holding, and Cedric should provide an excellent experience for the young Karl Hein in the nets.
  • These matches will hopefully see the return of Emile Smith Rowe following his lengthy injury and give him time to work into fitness before the Premier League returns. His form could allow Martinelli to be considered up top during Gabriel Jesus’ injury absence.
  • But the pressure will be on Eddie Nketiah. Not directly in these matches, but as Arsenal returns, leading the Premier League, he becomes their main number nine. Even if the club can sign a new striker during the January transfer window there are still probably at least four or five matches at a minimum before that player would arrive and be ready to start.

Second-choice Starting XI

  • Tierney, Vieira, and Marquinhos highlight this lineup that would mostly be youth players. This mid-season trip offers more time in front of Mikel Arteta than most of these academy players would typically get during a season. While they aren’t pushing for inclusion in this year’s squad, an impressive trip could get them a new contract and more consideration for the future.
  • I’m particularly keen to see how Butler-Oyedeji and Sagoe Jr. perform playing with the senior players. They have both excelled with the academy teams this season and seem ideal candidates for loan moves to a senior-level club next year.

Full 27-man Squad

  • Kieran Tierney
  • Gabriel Magalhaes
  • Martin Odegaard
  • Emile Smith-Rowe
  • Eddie Nketiah
  • Rob Holding
  • Cedric Soares
  • Fabio Vieira
  • Sambi Lokonga
  • Reiss Nelson
  • Mohamed Elneny
  • Marquinhos
  • Karl Hein (GK)
  • Alex Zinchenko
  • Nathan Butler-Oyedeji
  • Catalin Cirjan
  • Taylor Foran
  • Hubert Graczyk (GK)
  • James Hillson (GK)
  • Zane Monlouis
  • Charles Sagoe Jr
  • Matt Smith
  • Myles Lewis-Skelly
  • Ethan Nwaneri
  • Amario Cozier-Duberry
  • Lino Da Cruz Sousa
  • Reuell Walters

That just leaves five academy players, including promising left-back Line Da Cruz Sousa and Ethan Nwaneri the talented U18 player who made his debut for Arsenal last season as a 15-year-old.