Francis Coquelin- injured, Etienne Capoue- injured, Vincente Iborra, injured for the year, Manu Trigueros- suspended... Dani Parejo may basically have to be a one man midfield when we face Real Betis this week, because we are basically out of bodies otherwise.
Fortunately, we have other players who can step in and play in the midfield. Unfortunately, it’s not nearly that simple. Juan Foyth would be the leading candidate to play holding midfield, but Mario Gaspar and Ruben Pena are both out. Jaume Costa can step in and play some sort of midfield role, but he’s really better as a wide mid in that situation. Moi Gomez could step inside and play midfield, but he’s not a defensive midfielder at all and with Samu Chukwueze hurt, we don’t really have an experienced person to step in and take his place.
All of this creates a very curious conundrum for Unai Emery. As much as the 433 has been our best formation for much of the year, I just don’t think we have the bodies to line up in it this weekend. I personally expect that we will end up with a 442 of some sort with Foyth and Parejo central, Jaume Costa at right back, and Pedraza as a left sided midfielder over Estupinan. It’s not ideal, and even in that scenario I have no idea who plays on the right side of the formation. Perhaps you start Fer Nino with Paco up top and keep Gerard wide?
This is quite possibly the worst time of our season to have this problem. Betis is sitting in 7th in La Liga, so not a bad team at all (and one we drew in the first half of the year) and then right after that we face RB Salzburg with what will likely be a Trigueros/Parejo double pivot. Not quite as defensively stern as I would hope for. Shortly after that we get to face a Marcelino coached Athletic club. As much as it pains me to say it, Unai Emery’s knack for finding draws might actually be helpful for a while until we get a healthy midfielder or two back.