Alexis-Laca-Ozil Up-front, Koz back, Rambo-Xhaka to Power Midfield: Arsenal Preview & Line-Up

With only the oil-doped Mancunians appearing in an unbeatable form right now, Arsenal have a chance to close in on second in the table MU to just four points by beating the sorry Toffees this afternoon. This will not be easy. The unnecessary loss to the Hornets is still soaring the arses of the Gunners, and Wenger has not got the best of records against Koeman. The good thing is they don’t like each other much and Wenger would love to send the Dutchman back home to the Lowlands – and a beating may well mean the end of his Everton adventure (however ridiculous that would be).

It is one of those games that can go horribly wrong for either of the clubs; and we need to make sure we win this at any cost. A win would not only close the gap with the leaders but also allow to regain momentum in the league (and belief). With a number of good and important home games coming up, an away win today would be very, very important. Everton are of course a good side that just has not found the much needed rhythm as yet, and they could use this game, with the home crowd in passionate support and possibly a partisan referee to aid them further (allowing feet to go into our players unpunished and one or two fouls going against us in dangerous spots, for example) as a springboard to their revival.

The psychological factor should therefore not be underestimated: Wenger needs to get the troops in no-mercy fighting spirit. There is not much more to say about this one other than the predicted line-up. Rambo, Alexis and Koz are all fit again and they all need to play.

This is my predicted (and my preferred) Line-Up:

submit football lineup

Enjoy the game fellow Gooners. Up the Arsenal!

By TotalArsenal

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Reacting to the Loss at Watford: Is it Time for Four at the Back?

All statistical analyses have shown that the three center back formation has not improved us defensively, but has instead lowered our offensive numbers. That, however, is not the overriding reason why there is a need to consider reverting to the back four.  A back three demands at least six central defenders in the squad, especially as we are saddled with three matches per week for most of the autumn. What do we have there?

1) A 33 yr old Per Mertesacker whose legs are beginning to tire.
2) The marvelous 32 yr old Laurent Koscielny who is dogged by a chronic achilles problem and currently is out injured.
3) Shkodran Mustafi, a German international, out for a period of about 6 weeks with an injury.
4) Nacho Monreal, a 31 yr old converted full back who is also needed as cover for the wingback position.
5) 22 yr old Calum Chambers who has played only 45 minutes so far this season in all competitions.
6). 22 yr old Rob Holding, full of potential but still fragile in confidence.

That looks a bit of a rickety collection which smacks of a lack of ambition for a team that is expected to compete for honors everywhere. The color of the group dramatically improves if we revert to a back four which demands only two central defenders.

Are there other reasons to employ a four-man back line? I should think so. When Chelsea manager Antonio Conte introduced the 3:4:3 formation last season the Premier League was totally unprepared for it.  It took the league by storm and Chelsea swept past everyone. We made the same switch late in the season and went on a similar rampage. The trend this season seems to indicate that premier league teams have acquired an antidote: stop the wingbacks stretching the field and the attack goes limp, starved of numbers. This is particularly so for a team like Arsenal which propels its offense with quick combination passes featuring multiple movements. With two instead of three central defenders, one more body can be released and fully integrated into attacking areas, with their movements more difficult for the opposition to handle. Poor Alexandre Lacazette, our most expensive acquisition, poorly serviced and hardly ever supported by enough bodies.  He cannot be enjoying our 3:4:2:1 system. He–and the team–need a 4:2:3:1 that allows the swagger in our DNA to express itself.  Against Watford we looked… meh.

Our attack was devoid of creativity, which is exactly why we need a player like Mesut Ozil, whose cross of a fragile personality we all must bear.  He can only thrive when he is loved. The Germans know that and get the best out of him. I wish we could accept him for what he is. His performance started sliding when it was demanded he add goals and show more fight in his game. He now looks broken under those pressures.  Ozil cannot be the lead singer. Get the chorus in voice, however, and watch him thrive.  Jack Wilshere’s comeback program now needs to be sped up to help Ozil shine again. Our attack also needs Alexis, the X-factor man. As long as Ozil and Sanchez are still with us we need them. Every match is vital.

When we square up against the top teams, particularly away from home, we should use plenty of hard workers to disrupt the opponents’ game.  Ozil can then be sat on the bench.  That’s pragmatism.  It worked against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.  Against Watford and other lesser teams, we must always don our toga of possession, creativity and style with the likes of Ozil, Sanchez and Wilshere.  It’s nauseating and demoralizing to lose ugly to the smaller teams.

At Watford, I found it curious when we substituted Lacazette for Giroud given that we were already failing to attack with numbers and finding it difficult to penetrate the opponent’s box, the one place Giroud excels. Instead, I thought our transitioning structure was what needed to be rejigged, either with a different substitute or a change of formation.

A final comment. What an exquisite passer Xhaka is, but, as the saying goes, the strength of a chain is that of its weakest link.  Xhaka has an incredibly slow motor response that will keep causing us dearly.  Is it time for us to cut our loss? Big decisions lie ahead.

COYG!!!

By Pony Eye.

Posted in Uncategorized | 53 Comments

Blab with the Bergkampesque—Watford-Arsenal. No Ramsey, No Alexis; Ozil on the bench. Do the Gunners have enough to beat the bees?

Looks like our aged crew of defenders will anchor things at Watford tonight.

Here are your line-ups… What do you think?

Join us in the comments for the Best. Live. Arsenal. Blog.  BLAB on, BKesquers!

Arsenal (3-4-2-1) Cech; Koscielny, Mertesacker, Monreal; Bellerin, Elneny, Xhaka, Kolasinac; Iwobi, Welbeck, Lacazette.
Substitutes: Ospina, Holding, Ozil, Coquelin, Wilshere, Giroud, Walcott.

Watford (4-2-3-1) Gomes; Femenia, Mariappa, Britos, Holebas; Doucoure, Kabasele; Pereyra, Cleverley, Richarlison; Gray.
Substitutes: Karnezis, Janmaat, Wague, Capoue, Watson, Deeney, Carrillo.

Referee Neil Swarbrick.

by 17highburyterrace

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 150 Comments

Welbz, Lacazette, Ozil Up-front | BFG, Nacho, Holding at Back: Preview/ Line-Up

Cannon Balls to chase away the Hornets.

Technically this is an away game but the boys do not need to travel much for this one. And after what seemed an eternal international break, it is just as well the boys do not need to travel far. Players have been returning from their international games in mixed physical and mental states, and at least Mustafi will have to miss out for at least four weeks apparently.

No Mustafi is a big miss for us, as for some reason we play a lot better when he is on the pitch. Having said that, the BFG can do a decent stand-in job, and with a bit of luck Koz will be judged fit to play (he is another doubt at the moment). It is hard to say who is fit (enough) to play tomorrow but it looks like Alexis will not be back in time to make the team – the bench at best, I reckon.

Up-front is where we really have the good news with both Welbeck and Ozil deemed fit again for starts at least. In midfield we have Ramsey and Xhaka who both had tough international games during the break. I reckon they both will want to play and will be fit enough to do so. It may be best to rest Rambo though as his hamstrings may be in the red zone right now.

Watford are of course a team that can spring a surprise and we need to be very focused and ‘intense’ from the start. This will not be an easy one, let there be no doubt about it. Predicted Line-Up:

arsenal v W

Come on You Rip Roaring Gunners! Up The Arse!!!

By TotalArsenal

Posted in Uncategorized | 20 Comments

Eight Further Player Boosts to Make Arsenal Title Contenders

After a very good September we are starting to believe in the team and manager again. I reckon the draw against the Chavs was a big result for the team. With a bit of luck we would even have won that game, and that would have been very nice, but above all the boys needed to be solid, regain confidence and show what it means to wear the shirt. And that is what they did. Many a team in the PL would have buckled under the pressure of the Champions after losing to Pool so painfully, but our boys stood tall.

A few good home wins later and we are joined fourth with the winds in our sails. We now need to push on and it is clear that we are not yet cruising with all the sails raised to the mast. This is of course good news as we need to improve further to get closer to the two teams that are leading the table. So were is the extra ‘wind-power’ to come from?

  1. The UEFA Cup/ League Cup team. Wenger has opted to play predominantly two different teams for the PL and the two current cup competitions. This way the whole squad is being used and young players are getting really good opportunities to shine and grow. Furthermore, the more experienced ‘fringe players’ are playing themselves fit and ready to join the PL team if required. This may turn out to make a massive difference this season;
  2. Mesut Ozil. I am not sure what is going on with Mesut: was he really injured or is Wenger giving him time to make up his mind once and for all re signing a new contract… or not. But I am sure that whatever his decision, and I reckon he WILL sign a new contract within a month, he will start to influence our games more and more from next weekend onwards. His ability to find quality assists, through-balls and key passes is still top of the league. We need him back.
  3. Jack Wilshere. It looks to me that Jack is gradually getting fitter and playing the cups is really helping him. What I would like to see is Mesut and Jack sharing some of the ninety minutes in PL games going forward. Jack coming on after 65 minutes or playing the first 65 minutes is a viable option now. Together they can add that much needed extra dimension to our attacking football and get the best out of Lacazette, Alexis, Giroud and Welbeck.
  4. IwobI. There is also a real chance that the most exciting talent at Arsenal currently, Alexi Iwobi, will move up another level this season. It is just a gut feeling, but I reckon he could be our joker this season.
  5. Lacazette-Giroud. We are effectively playing with two CFs upfront with the third attacker in our 3-4-3 being the creative player. And we need Mesut or Jack, or indeed Iwobi, to play in that role. I rate Alexis but he is just not a good team player in the two CFs upfront system. He never gelled with Giroud and I have not seen much that indicates that he can work really well with Lacazette. Ultimately, he is too selfish and that is only compensated by his goal scoring ability. If Wenger has the guts, he will start taking Alexis off after 65 minutes and combine Lacazette with Giroud more and more. He should also start them together now and again. They ARE both team players and could build up that title-winning CF partnership this season.
  6. The partnership between Xhaka and Rambo. IF they keep playing with tactical discipline, which means close together when defending and pressing opponents together to dominate the midfield, they will get better and better. It is still a work in progress but Wenger will get it right with them.
  7. Coquelin. We need that player on the bench who can come on and help us close out a game. Francis needs to return to fitness asap.
  8. Cazorla. The almost forgotten one. Just imagine getting three months out of him towards the end of the season, what a boost that would be!

By TotalArsenal.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 50 Comments

Arsenal v Seagulls: 8 Observations

Arsenal 2 – 0 Brighton

Another clean sheet, another win, and joint fourth in the league table. Things are looking up for Arsenal. 2-0 to the Arsenal I take every day against any opponent, and Brighton gave us more than a decent game today. I hear some say that we should have scored more, been more ruthless, and I don’t disagree, but it is still good that we take these winnable games seriously and get the three points. This is a lot harder than you may think, but the team was focused, fought for it and deserved the win, and that goes a long way.

Eight quick observations – and please add your own in the comment section:

  1. The partnership between Rambo and Xhaka remains a work in progress. It is hard to see them play with some sort of plan in games like these. Rather than playing close together horizontally they tend to play vertically, away from each other. This is fine when we are attacking but when we are defending counter-attacks it often leaves our defenders exposed.
  2. Alexis needs to play more for the team. It was clear that Wenger told him this at the break, as he was less selfish and started to create opportunities for others, culminating in the assist of the weekend for Iwobi.
  3. Iwobi needed that goal. He took it really well and it was just what we needed to put this game to bed.
  4. Kola works better with Welbeck than with Alexis. He is less of an attacking threat as a result. The problem is that Alexis does not really do proper wing-play. He wants to move towards the box asap in order to shoot on goal. Question to you: other than with Ozil who does Alexis have a decent partnership with in the team?
  5. Lacazette is such an exciting attacker, we just need to serve him better. I love his movement and making himself available constantly. And that shot against the post is exactly what people come to football stadiums for: such quick thinking, such brilliant technical execution, such ferocious force…. and so unlucky not to score.
  6. Nacho Monreal I salute you!
  7. We are potentially one win away from becoming third in the table. A great turnaround if that were to happen in such few games. Man City are looking very strong right now and let’s see how good MU really are now they will have a few harder games coming up. I would like us to focus on ourselves and improve further, and the one player pivotal for this is Mesut Ozil (of course). Especially in the big games we need his creativity and guile to give us that extra dimension. And having Jack on the bench to support/replace him is also very important. This team can grow and grow.
  8. Why did we not push on after we went two nil up? Part of me believes that Wenger wants to spare the more vulnerable opponents/ fellow managers and tells his team just to play out the game. Another part believes that we do not push on to save us from further injuries. Another part believes the subs are not working at the moment. Another part believes we need at least one of Mesut, Santi or Jack on the pitch to get the really big scores.

By TotalArsenal.

Posted in Uncategorized | 42 Comments

Iwobi, Holding Go in an Early Start vs Brighton. Help a Gooner Out–Live Blog with The Berkgampesque.

Alex Iwobi says, look at me, I’m the new Ozil…

Here are the line-ups:

Arsenal (3-4-2-1) Cech; Holding, Mustafi, Monreal; Bellerin, Ramsey, Xhaka, Kolasinac; Iwobi, Sanchez; Lacazette.
Substitutes: Ospina, Mertesacker, Maitland-Niles, Wilshere, Elneny, Walcott, Giroud.

Brighton (4-2-3-1) Ryan; Bruno, Duffy, Dunk, Bong; Stephens, Propper; March, Gross, Izquierdo; Brown.
Substitutes; Krul, Goldson, Schelotto, Suttner, Molumby, Knockaert, Murray.

I gotta work the espresso machine.  Please join us in the comments for the groggiest live-blog yet!

by 17highburyterrace

Posted in Uncategorized | 107 Comments