Arsenal v Brentford: Starts for Willock, S-R, Nketiah and Thompson? Preview/Line-Up

The show must go on v Brentford. We like winning we do and we have some hungry players who need a game. At the principle of OGAAT – One Game at a time – combined with the fact that Emery will love to see more of his squad in meaningful action, our new manager no doubt will have given his first eleven for tomorrow’s game some thought. 

This is what the Kevster said re tomorrow’s possible starting eleven in previous post: “Leno (or Martinez), Lichtsteiner, Iwobi, Elneny, Guendouzi, Holding, Nketiah, Willock, Smith Rowe, reserve left back Dominic Thompson (?), Mustafi, Welbeck, Olowu (?), Saka (?) with maybe a couple or three biggies on the bench for an emergency, that lot in whatever combination looks the likely lads for Wednesday imo”

Let’s dissect the thinking around this a bit:

  1. We have certain starters for the UEFA games and they need a weekly game to stay fit and focussed, so they are likely to play again on Wednesday: Leno, Lichtsteiner, Guendouzi, Iwobi, Welbeck, Holding and Elneny. I reckon they will all start.
  2. There are a few youngsters who need game time: Nketiah, Willock, Smith Rowe
  3. We need a LB other than Nacho, who of course needs a rest. So I go with Allezkev’s recommendation of Dominic Thompson.
  4. I reckon that adds up to 11! 🙂

So the predicted starting 11 will look like this:

submit football lineup

Maybe Emery plays Mustafi again and spares Holding or move Elneny next to The Curls; we will have to wait and see. I may have gotten this totally wrong but somehow I feel I haven’t. Should be a good game for those who’ll be there.


By TotalArsenal.

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Auba/Laca Like Cole and Yorke, No debate about MOTM, Almost in Top-4: Six Observations

Arsenal 2 – 0 Everton. Joint fifth in the league now.

To summarise our game v Everton today: we are a work in progress and have frailties but have quality AND character all over the pitch to win, and that is what we did. 


Six observations from a mad, frantic, table-football kind of game:

  1. Cech was MOTM – that one is easy for us all to agree on, no? Petr is a winner and rather than relax and be Arsenal’s number 2, he is fighting tooth and nail to be first choice for Emery. He has won us games before and he did so again today. His positioning was strong and his interventions were decisive; he still frightens opponents when they face him and that is half the chance saved time and again;
  2. The Laca-Auba combo paid dividend once again. We now have the sort of quality up-front that will win us games and it is important there are two quality attackers from the start. This makes it hard for defenders to eliminate our attacking threat for 90 minutes. At some point, they will get chances and before you know the net bulges; it did twice and the three point are ours. It reminds me a bit about Cole and Yorke for Manure in what now seems a lifetime ago;
  3. Torreira-Xhaka gave us better shape, especially in the second half, but they will have to work together a lot more to become fully effective: a work in progress. Emery did a good job in instructing them during the second half, as they increased the tempo and their passing was more crispy; and they pushed a bit higher as well and started to play the ball towards the Everton ‘D’ area rather than play it wide time and again;
  4. Ozil and Rambo on the pitch just does not seem to work. I know Rambo had technically two assists but the first goals was all about a superb finish and the second one was technically offsite as Rambo miscued his effort on goal. Ozil tried as hard as Rambo but the game was very frantic and he struggled to get a grip on it. It also feels that the German and Welshman run into each other space but with different intentions (and technical qualities) and this does not help the attackers as in what to expect and to do next;
  5. Our team spirit and energy levels are good, if not very good. The game was played at a high pace and right till the end we tried to score goals. Technically and tactically Arsenal remain a work in progress but we are winning games because of the hard work and individual quality of players (Cech, Laca and Auba especially);
  6. Mustafi’s kamikaze style caused Sokratis an injury (and yellow card) and the Greek did not look too pleased with the German. The good news is that Holding did a good job replacing Sokratis and even brought a bit of calm into our defence. Rather than making progress this season it looks like Mustafi is our weakest link in defence right now (and he should thank Cech for saving us/him a few times in the first 15 minutes alone). How long before Emery opts for a different CB pairing in our key games?

Up next in the PL are Watford at home and a win would see us enter the Top-Four for the first time (on points at least). It might not be pretty or for the purists at this stage, we remain vulnerable at the back and our midfield still lacks shape and domination, but we fight as a team for ninety minutes and keep scoring goals (two PL goals per game) and just had our first clean sheet. So let’s keep OGAAT-ing and growing and who knows where it all ends this season?

By TotalArsenal.

Posted in Uncategorized | 19 Comments

Arsenal-Everton Live-blog: Lucas Torriera Gets his First League Start



Torriera replaces Guendouzi, otherwise, Unai Emery fields the same group that won at Newcastle and Cardiff.

Arsenal Confirmed starting XI: Cech; Bellerin, Mustafi, Sokratis, Monreal; Torreira, Xhaka, Ramsey, Ozil, Aubameyang; Lacazette

Everton Confirmed starting XI: Pickford; Kenny, Keane, Zouma, Digne; Gueye, Davies; Walcott, Sigurdsson, Richarlison; Calvert Lewin

Please join us for a bit of a Live-Blog and/or Game-Day-Chat.  Your observations are as good as mine…and maybe even better!

by 17highburyterrace

Posted in Uncategorized | 167 Comments

The Ideal: Torreira/Xhaka, Guendouzi in Hole, OLA up-front, Hold/Sokratis CBs…

— But it won’t happen. 

Full of cold and not much time for a preview, so I suggest you read the Arsenal match brief instead (with some good stats in there!):

In terms of starting eleven, I guess it will be the same as last week’s, with starts for Xhaka and Guendouzi in the middle of midfield – in my opinion a guarantee for conceding at least a goal again tomorrow – and Rambo in the hole. In attack we will see again OLA: Ozil, Laca and Auba and at the back it is Cech, Monreal, Sokratis, Mustafi and Bellerin

The starting 11 I would like to see are:

submit football lineup

  1. Give Holding and Sokratis a chance to grow as a CB duo
  2. For flip sake start with Torreira and Xhaka in de DM-Pivot: for balance and control
  3. To show that I do not dislike Guendouzi, I would play him the hole as the B2B midfielder. That way he can support the attack without leaving our defence exposed. It would be good to see how he would do in that position as we need to start planning for life after Rambot
  4. Laca, Auba and Ozil to play together again and build further on their growing collective form.


By TotalArsenal.

Posted in Uncategorized | 36 Comments

Arsenal v Vorskla Predicted Line-Up: Emery to Make 8 Changes and Laca to Lead Line


Emery must have a special attachment to the Europa Cup. As coach of Sevilla he won it a record three consecutive times. He would like to add a forth to his haul. Apart from that sentiment, he knows that the Europa is a feasible route back to the Champions league. It is therefore a competition he is bound to take seriously. That much he has already made known when he dismissed the notion that it is a competition that he could be making eleven changes to his 1st team, though he subsequently got us all confused by saying that he would be using a lot of different players for the different competitions. When Emery delivers his English, lots of deciphering must be done. Brave man he is.

Emery also indicated that he approaches every game on its merit. That’s OGAAT (one game at a time) philosophy. Apart from each game plan, every coach has a campaign plan and at this early stage of the season the PL must be Emery’s top priority. Combing through all that he has said, we suspect that there won’t be wholesale changes but enough to obviate the deleterious effect of Thursday/Sunday matches to the team. Another factor that would have a hand on who plays is the need to give some fringe players more game time for upping their match fitness in readiness for the grueling season of four competitions.

Not much can be said about FC Vorskla. They finished third in the Ukrainian premier league last season and currently sit at the 5th position on their table having won 4 games and lost 4. That’s not terribly intimidating.

Emery is experienced. He knows that no team should be underrated. He would want to start the Europa league round robin stage of the competition very strongly and only take his foot off the throttle when he sees the team in a safe place. Only then are our academy players likely to come in strongly.

I don’t expect Monreal to be risked at the left back position as he currently has no senior back up. This is a match that looks perfect for the talented Guendouzi to grow his game. I expect Torreira to be on the bench but to make his first start of the season at the Emirate against Everton.

What is Emery’s team to start? That’s a tough call. Below is what I consider a decent shot at it and a decent team comprising 8 changes and a strong bench.





BENCH:- Cech, Mustafi, Monreal, Torreira, Smith-Rowe, Ozil, Aubamayang.

If the match proceeds as hoped, I won’t be surprised if Monreal comes in as a 2nd half substitute at left back with Lichsteiner taking over from Bellerin and Aubamayang coming in for Lacazette (Emery with an eye on Sunday). Of course he could be seeing it all differently.

We need a flying start. Let’s have your prediction of the line up and the score line. 4-0 to Arsenal.



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Tidy Torreira The Difference, Xhaka MOTM, Hector and Nacho very Balanced, Cech Rocks: 8 Observations

Very little time to do a proper blog on yesterday’s fine win against the Magpies, but here are my quick eight observations:

  1. The obvious one: Tidy Torreira makes the difference. Enough said about this already but LT11 gives the team shape and gets the best out of Xhaka….
  2. Xhaka was our MOTM: I watched the highlights and the full second half and Granit was the master of midfield in the second half. The Swiss was were the ball was and the ball came to the Swiss time and again, whether he was in his own half or the Barcodes’ half. That is a sign of a great midfielder. Torreira plays more on a line with Xhaka and his first priority is to keep the midfield tidy, protect the defence and allow Xhaka to play his game properly. The beauty is that Torreira can also support the attack. He is starting to remind me of Edgar Davids, one of the best all-round midfielders ever to grace the grass.
  3. I love Petr Cech. He could be thinking I don’t want to do this anymore and turn my nightmares in to sweet dreams again by leaving us, but the Great Cech is fighting for his place and team and is so willing to adapt. At 36 this is pretty amazing.
  4. Auba, Ozil and Laca are by no means clicking yet, but boy did they work hard for the team all over the pitch. Once they start finding each other better and become sharper in front of goal they will really hurt some teams, but their work rate yesterday was very impressive and made the difference. Laca produced some very fine attacking balls for others and was in constant movement, Auba really supported Monreal on the flank (and it showed when he was substituted as the only danger – and goal – from the Magpies came from their right flank late on in the game), and Ozil just fought and fought – with a fine goal as a reward.
  5. The full backs had a very mature game, really balancing well between attack and defence all game long. The centre-backs were also pretty dominant all game long and the Musti-Sokratis partnership is making progress (need to sort covering space from non-set-piece crosses though).
  6. I loved the way the team kept shape and dominating the game after we scored the second goal. It was important that we pushed on for the second goal, but it was even more important not to sit back after the second. The way we dominated proceedings away from home in the second half was the biggest plus from the game.
  7. Rambo and Guendouzi offer a lot of energy and running and this is important to have in the team. The question is whether we need two of these starting a game: one coming to get the ball and the other moving forwards with the ball. Xhaka can move it forward without having to run too much and Ozil can come and pick the ball up. Our midfield is still a balancing act/ work in progress.
  8. This was Emery’s best game. The way he turned things round at half time and we then dominated the game was very impressive. Shame for the clean sheet, but we looked so much more composed and in control than in our previous matches.

By TotalArsenal.

Posted in Uncategorized | 38 Comments

Arsenal v Newcastle: Guendouzi/Torreira DMs, Holding start, Laca/Auba to swipe the Barcodes?



In the Newcastle/City match, Benitez set out in a compact 5:4:1 formation. City scored early and Benitez was forced to fan out his men. And were they impressive? I was surprised at how well they moved the ball around, found an equalizer only for City to nick the game with a 2nd half 30 meter grass hugging screamer from Kyle Walker.

Obviously excited by the performance of his team, Benitez announced that he would play against Arsenal with greater courage. I hope he hasn’t changed his mind after watching our deadly duo (Au-La-La) starting together for the first time under the new coach.

Emery’s knowledge of his team is growing. His long hours on the videos would have helped him gain knowledge of the “dos” in his team. But knowledge is incomplete if the ‘dos’ are known without the ‘don’ts’. Four matches into the season and he must have picked up a string of ‘don’ts’, such as:-

Don’t ask Petr to play out from the back. It petr-ifies him.
Don’t play Sokratis on the left side of the central defense. Right footed, he finds it uncomfortable passing out from the back from that side, often ending up putting the keeper under pressure with yet another back pass.
Don’t play Xhaka and Guendouzi together in the pivot role. Splendid player each but their chemistry isn’t sparking into life. They offer about the same thing.
Don’t leave Torreira on the bench. He knows how to glue everything together.
Don’t shunt Ozil out to the wide right position. It leaves him miserable.
Don’t play Ozil and Ramsey together. They compete for the same tiny space inhibiting each other’s game.
Don’t separate our yin and yang (Au-La-La). The two on the pitch gets the enemy mumbling ……. “Gosh, one is elusive, the other a thunderbolt, oh la la, la la. How in hell do we stop them?”. All their plans in disarray.
Don’t underestimate any premier league team. There are no push overs.
Don’t lose any careless points. The premier league is unforgiving.

Of course there must be some ‘don’ts’ that the coach knows about that we don’t but it is my prayer that such a list does not include “Don’t ever play Leno ahead of Cech” …… for that is a ‘don’t’ that would add fuel to a question that is already being asked. sitting on the bench?

Emery’s four matches so far constitute the perfect premier league sample. A sample that contains the league champions (City), top six team and FA cup winners (Chelsea), expected middle of the table team (West Ham), expected relegation battler with all due respect (Cardiff), two home and two away games. His induction into the premier league is done. He now knows the game and must have got his sleeves all rolled up.

Emery has used a total of only 13 players so far to start these matches not counting Maitland-Niles who was played out of position because of injuries to Monreal and Kolasinac. Against the Toons he might be minded not to start our internationals who played last Tuesday night (Lichsteiner, Sokratis, Xhaka, Welbeck). That might create the opportunity to test out one or two more players before matches start coming thick and fast as other competitions kick in. Dear me, what a daunting task for Emery balancing between learning on the job and having to win his matches. His situation reminds me of an old Roman adage, “Make haste slowly”.

Against Newcastle we could see this team:-

submit football lineup

And this bench:-
Leno, Lichsteiner, Sokratis, Xhaka, Iwobi, Ramsey, Welbeck.

Emery wants his team playing with ‘personality’. Nothing tasks the character of a team more than away matches. So far this season we are running the hardest in the league. That shows fight, the very ingredient that we sorely missed the few years past. I expect a win against Newcastle.

Are there ‘don’ts’ you disagree with and other ‘don’ts’ you’d want to highlight? Or are you more at home with the ‘dos’? Whichever, BK would like to share.

By PE.

Posted in Uncategorized | 39 Comments