It’s The FA Cup 3rd Round day. A day that generally sparks excitement and enthusiasm up and down the land as despite the competition starting back in September, this is the round where the big boys come in.
That means us, only because we’re a Premier League side, for now! We have a tough tie today. When Arsenal were first drawn out of the hat to play us it didn’t look as daunting as it sounded. After all they were going through a tough patch with many calling for Mikel Arteta’s head.
Fast forward to the actual game day and we’re about to face one of the most in-form teams in the land whilst we’re hardly in red-hot form ourselves. So, I ask myself a question. I want to win but, am I willing to sacrifice the game in the hope I can get some positives from it?
That may sound like a contradiction but bear with me. Dubravka’s return will be a big positive and it may give a few fringe men the chance to show Bruce what they can do, but the main man I want to see today is our U-23 star and local who deserves to make his full debut and show what he’s capable of on the senior stage. Enter Elliott Anderson – the Toon teenager who could and should make his senior bow in a few hours time.
A lot has been made of this kid and for me today is the perfect opportunity to unleash him.
We are crying out for an explosive, brave midfielder from central areas – and in particular to a player that runs at opposition teams.
He and therefore we have nothing to lose by him playing. It could be the spark we need, especially when you consider Matty Longstaff soon became “like a new signing” after bursting on the scene with a brilliant debut display against a ‘big six’ side in Man Utd last season.
We know what the likes of Hendrick, Shelvey, Hayden and the two Longstaff’s are capable, so let’s give the 18-year-old a chance before we ship him out on loan to the Championship.
Anderson looks perhaps the most talented U-23 we’ve had in years. He’s an dynamic CAM ready to run with the ball and has the innocence of youth with him.
So, Mr Bruce, please be brave. I daresay a defeat with Dubs and Anderson in the team will go down a lot better than one without them and who knows. It’s the FA Cup and anything could happen. Unleash the young ‘un and let’s see what happens.