Arsenal – Montpellier: Ox to start, TV or Gibbs, Pod or Gervinho?

It seems a long time ago since Arsenal played Montpellier on a humid, late-summer’s evening back in September. However, I still remember well how we somehow held on to take all three points back to London, after the CL-inexperienced French Champions almost totally dominated us for the entire second half, but forgot to finish us off.

Montpellier are a fine team, who play football the Arsenal way: the way it should be played.

They keep the ball low, and pass it round really well. Montpellier play with a high line and like to pressure their opponents in their own half. They work hard as a team and create plenty of chances, but lack a top CF to finish-off all the hard work done by their fantastic midfielders. Now where did their last season’s top scorer disappear to? Lol! Only eight goals in their last six games says it all (compared to 19 by Arsenal).

They have a few excellent, but inexperienced players, and the rest are decent to good players. I like Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, the Montpellier captain, and Belhanda and Cabella are fine talents who are likely to make it big in the next few years. Montpellier like to get the ball into the area in front of the opponent’s ‘D’ – very much like Arsenal in the Fabregas era – in order to find a deadly through-ball or shoot from that area.

They also ‘lop-side’ towards the right, where both Cabella and Belhanda like to go to find some space, or combine with each other in order to get to the opponent’s penalty area.

Vermaelen or Gibbs

This brings me to the first selection conundrum: should Arsene select our proper LB, Gibbs, who has not played for a while and might be rusty, but is best suited to deal with the wing-play of Cabella and others; or should he keep the current back four unchanged, even though TV is not fully comfortable in the LB position?

My guess is, Arsene will start with TV. Cabella is tricky and keeps the ball well, but is not superfast; and is more of an all-round attacking midfielder than a classic winger. Thomas can deal with him, and it would keep the back four together for another game. It also allows Arsene to play again the CB-pairing of BFG-Koz which seems to be the best one at the moment.

However, Arsenal can expect Montpellier to target our LB area and it is important that we have it properly covered tonight.

Podolski or Gervinho?

It is really good news that our early season top-scorer Gervinho is back again. If Gibbs starts tonight, I have little doubt Poldolski will start on the left wing again. These two work together very naturally and get the very best out of each other in those positions. But as I went for Vermaelen instead of Gibbs, I would not be surprised to see Gervinho getting a start in his favourite LW position.

I reckon the midfield is a given again: Cazorla, Arteta, Wilshere. We need to win this game and Arsene is unlikely to risk making changes in this area. They have had a rest since Saturday afternoon, so should have recovered again.

With Giroud finally starting to fire on all cylinders, he is most likely to start the game in the CF position. Podolski can come of the bench to give him a break if needed; or could even start instead of the Frenchman (not likely though).

The Ox to start?

With Theo out due to a shoulder injury tonight, I would love to see the Ox start in the RW position against Montpellier. He is a good crosser of the ball, can get past his man easily, and he combines well with other players to move into the opposition’s box. However, it is most likely that Gervinho will start on the right, with Giroud in the middle and Podolski on the left.

Most likely line-up for tonight’s game:


Sagna – Mertesacker – Koscielny – Vermaelen




My preferred line-up:


Sagna – Mertesacker – Koscielny – Vermaelen



The Ox————-Giroud————–Gervinho

As per previous post, I expect Montpellier to come at us with a ‘nothing to lose’ attitude. They will try to pressure us high up the pitch again and not allow us to retain the ball for long. Arsenal need to be fully focussed, play at a high tempo, and put in a performance for ninety minutes.

Any complacency could cost us dearly, but if Arsenal work hard and take their chances when they arise, we should be able to win tonight’s game.


Total Arsenal.

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75 Responses to Arsenal – Montpellier: Ox to start, TV or Gibbs, Pod or Gervinho?

  1. Red Arse says:

    Congratulations, TA, I have come to you via NN — you must have woken them up!! 😀


    Thanks TA. i would go with Gibbs, Ox, and Gerv. We need movement.

    Thanks for your support guys, even though i dont deserve it because its my fault.

    My marriage is in serious trouble and could well be over. Lets just say that i am close to taking up residence at Oxford Street station, growing a significantly long beard, aqcuiring shoes worn by men in Doncaster, and indulging in the delights of Tennents Extra.

  3. TotalArsenal says:

    Cheers RA 🙂

    Wigan Gooner has been absolutely brilliant in getting me on NN. Without him, I would have been lost! 🙂

  4. TotalArsenal says:

    Terry that sounds serious. 😦

    Hope you find a way to get her back!

  5. Red Arse says:

    Terry, 😦

    I was just about to write a funny response, but I am glad I changed my mind.
    That sort of emotional turmoil is not to be messed with.

    Hope it is not too late to sort things out!

  6. Thorough says:

    Pod and Verm over Gerv and Gibbs for me. And are you sure the LW is actually Gervinho’s favourite position? Thought he played his best Lille years (and Ivorien National team) on the right wing with Eden Hazard on the left. Lovely post.

  7. VCC says:

    Terry. My thoughts are with you.We are all behind you on BK. I’m sure I speak for all of us on here, If you need help,support.shoulder get in touch with TA who can supply email addresses so it can stay private.

  8. oz gunner says:

    who is this pre-match imposter? haha. cheers for a good read TA, can’t argue with either of those line-ups. Pod could do with a rest, and gervs pace might pin their right side back a bit.

    Fingers crossed tonight, I want to be able to continue laughing at man city and chelsea. hahaha benitez is back!!! Watch out he doesn’t do his own scouting he just identifies who we target and offers them more (torres and babel).

    Goodluck tezza, I hope everything gets sorted soon mate. Everyone is here for you in whatever way needed.

  9. VCC says:

    Total….I think Wenger will start with


    Sagna Merts Kos Vermaelen

    Arteta Wilshere


    Ox Giroud Podolski

    Too early to bring Gibbs and Gervinho back.

  10. oz gunner says:

    NN!!!!!!!!! Well done TA, much deserved! Don’t celebrate too soon though, my pre-match is Friday and it may set a new record for fastest ‘kicked off NN’ in history!

  11. TotalArsenal says:

    Thanks Thorough and a point well made.

    I did not see him play much for Lille, but at Arsenal I feel he is happiest on the left, where he finds it easier to find the by-line and cut the ball back for our striker/midfielders.

    However, in a fluid-three upfront – say Pod, Ox and Gervinho or Gervinho – Pod – Theo – he is very comfortable too.

    Do you feel we are getting the best out of Pod at the moment?

  12. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi Herb,

    Saw your comment in previous post. Good to see you back amigo. Thierry return would be very welcome as long as it does not mean that possible purchases in January will be postponed. Do you agree? 🙂

  13. richie59er says:

    Hey my friend I’ve found your new hang out marvelous! No time to scan your blog site but “I will be back”! As that terrible Austrian actor used to say.

  14. TotalArsenal says:

    You could well be right VCC, and I would not mind that either.

  15. TotalArsenal says:

    No risk of that Oz – they are masterpieces! 🙂 I sent you an email btw.

  16. TotalArsenal says:

    Good to see you here Richie 🙂

    Come back soon and we have a proper footie and wine chat!

  17. TotalArsenal says:

    Oz, do you reckon it will be Benitez? Has it been confirmed yet?

    I am glad they let budgie-face go. He is a good tactical manager and seemed to have the team behind him. A little blip and he gets the push – typical Chavs. Hope they get it all wrong now and finish with nothing this season! 😈

  18. TotalArsenal says:

    Thorough 🙂

    If you are still reading, see attached for Gervinho’s stats:

    His rating in the the attacking midfielder left position are highest. However, the thing I don’t know for sure is whether he favours the AML position himself, so point well made.

  19. Red Arse says:


    Your preferred team and VCC’s vary by only one player.

    I agree with the pair of you, a nice looking team(s)! 😀

  20. VCC says:

    Looks like you have a fine Dog there Richie. A true Gooner just like my Boxer.

  21. TotalArsenal says:

    He is good at predicting stuff, Redders, so I better not argue with him! 😛

    What is your prediction for tonight’s game?

  22. VCC says:

    RA….Knowing how Wenger works, I just swapped Walcott with Ox. It’s too early to bring Gibbs and Gervinho back straight away after injuries.

  23. TotalArsenal says:

    Now you have to change your avatar again, VCC or is it UMF?! 😕 😀

  24. TotalArsenal says:

    VCCUMF, they are either fit to play or they are not. If they are fit they should play imo. 🙂

  25. VCC says:

    Point taken Total. But imo match fitness can be different to physical fitness. So with that in mind I would go with the match fitness and bring them back slowly.

  26. TotalArsenal says:

    You are probably right,VCC and I reckon tonight is an ideal game for Ox to shine once more. As long as we don’t play Ramsey in THAT position, I am happy 🙂

  27. Red Arse says:

    For no good reason I can give, I must tell you that the wind has suddenly struck here at gale force strength and almost horizontal and torrential rain.

    Hope it does not mess up the game tonight!! 😦

  28. Red Arse says:


    My team prediction would not be any different to either yours or VCC’s [I would be happy with either]. 🙂

    My game prediction 2:1 to the good guys!!

    And by the way === THREE CHEERS FOR WIGAN GOONER ===

  29. TotalArsenal says:

    Three cheers indeed. I am hoping to get a couple of Wigan away tickets to take him to the match as a little thank you. 🙂

  30. TotalArsenal says:

    That seems a fair score prediction Redders, and you might have to change your plans for fish and chips takeaway tonight! 🙄

  31. Red Arse says:

    Just watching the highlights of the Arsenal/Totnums on Sky Sports 1 at the moment.

    Even allowing for Barndoor’s red card, we were very good at times – especially Cazzor and Giroud! 🙂

  32. Red Arse says:

    Do you like my new Aztec red avatar?

    And how did you guess I was thinking of fish and chips tonight? 😀

    The Bale goal was poor by the midfield defense guys. Jack had stopped, because he was returning from attacking, and Arteta, who is not fast anyway, had given up and was just trotting behind Bale.

    To be fair to Bale it was a goal I would be delighted for an Arsenal player to score.

  33. glic says:

    I know what your going through mucker, been their myself. Be strong and fight your hardest fight. Support is here. I know it`s different, but with the worry of my Grandson, I found a haven of respite on here and AA. We are in your corner.

    Great pre-match Total.

    I think a deal of Chamakh, Squilacci, Santos, Denilson, Bendtner, Fabianski and Park for Cabella and Bell ender plus 10 Euros would be a good bit of duck & diving !. hahaha

    Great news about NN, so yes three cheers for Wiggy………hip, hip hooray, hip, hip hooray, hip, hip hooray !

    And also three cheers for 1 UMF for his UMF league………hip, hip replacement, hip, hip, replacement, hip, hip, replacement !. hahaha

  34. glic says:

    I`m not the worlds best cook and the missus is going out later, so I`ve got to fend for myself.
    So I thought the easiest thing to make will be a Salad, no cooking required, what do you think ?. I mean, It cant be that hard can it ?, It`s not exactly Rocket Salad !.

  35. VCC says:

    I’m having Liver and Bacon with mash and peas tonight. Cooked by yours truly.

    Then darn the boozer to watch the Good guys win 4-1. Hip hip replacement–hip hip replacement–hip hip replacement.

  36. TotalArsenal says:

    Great new avatar Redders – that must have been the reason I had to approve your comment when you first posted it.

    Agreed re Bale’s goal: he did well to escape Mertesacker and time his shot before Kozzer could block it off.

    Glic hip-hip-replacement hahaha 🙂

  37. VCC says:

    Total…Please don’t encourage GLiC. He’s a scoundrel.

  38. Red Arse says:

    Glic, VCC, 😀

    Glicster, the lazy man’s meal from university days;
    Can of soup + Can of Beans + 2 or 3 boiled spuds = quick, tasty and filling (watch for eruptions – goals going in is a good cover!) 😆

  39. VCC says:

    It’s nice RA, but I would prefer a naked woman one.

  40. TotalArsenal says:

    Nice to see the boxer back, VCC. 🙂 Now Richie will feel straight at home.

    I am cooking chicken in black bean sauce tonight – only the sauce will come out of a package. Watching the game in pub will fellow Gooner tonight, so need a good base for alcohol intake 🙂

  41. Red Arse says:

    A bloke from Barnsley with piles asks chemist, “Nah then lad, does tha sell arse cream?”

    The chemist replies, “Aye, Magnum or Cornetto?”

  42. Red Arse says:

    These are to cheer Terry up!

    Police have just released details of a new drug craze that is being carried out in Yorkshire nightclubs.
    Apparently, Yorkshire club goers have started injecting Ecstasy just above their front teeth.
    Police say the dangerous practice is called “E by gum” 🙂

  43. Red Arse says:

    A Yorkshireman takes his cat to the vet.

    Yorkshireman: “Ayup, lad, I need to talk to thee about me cat.”

    Vet: “Is it a tom?”

    Yorkshireman: “Nay, I’ve browt it wi’ us.” 😆

  44. TotalArsenal says:

    Redders 😀

    GLiC – hurry up with building the love shack – Terry needs it. Take your misses there Terry and give her the time of her life. Make sure Glic stays away though! 😛

  45. Red Arse says:

    A Yorkshireman’s dog dies and as it was a favourite pet, he decides to have a gold statue made by a jeweller to remember the dog by.

    Yorkshireman: “Can tha mek us a gold statue of yon dog?”

    Jeweller: “Do you want it 18 carat?”

    Yorkshireman: “No, yer daft bugger, I want it chewin’ a bone!” 🙂

    [look even a Yank could work them out – get on wi’ yee!] 😀

  46. TotalArsenal says:

    Off for a bit, catch you later.

  47. Red Arse says:

    I live in a semi-rural area. We recently had a new neighbour call the Highways Department to request the removal of the ‘DEER CROSSING’ sign at the side of our road.

    The reason she gave, as explained to me: “Too many deer are being hit by cars on this stretch of the road! I don’t think this is a good place for them to be crossing, any-more.”


  48. SharkeySuresGhost says:

    Lets face it really couldn’t make that up, it has to be true !

  49. TotalArsenal says:

    😆 you are taking the urine! 😛

  50. glic says:

    So Redders lives in a Rural area with people walking about with Semis !. Do you have sheep in that area Redders ? ” yes ” !. So you live in Wales then !.

    I would have told them Deers to cross further up the road, as there`s a Zebra Crossing there and he`s having better luck !.

    Dennis, I`m really scraping the barrel with the humour today ! hahaha

    Reddeer…..sorry Redders. I think your being a tad too Yorkshireist today !. I hope slims not looking in ! hahaha

  51. VCC says:

    Redders went a bit crackers after seeing all that activity on the roads. He went to the doctors and told him he felt like a bridge. The doctor said “What’s come over you?”……Redders replied “Oh, two cars, a large truck and a coach”.

  52. RockyLives says:

    Thinking of you mate.
    I hope things work our the way you want them to.
    And if they don’t – don’t get too down. We’ve all been in dark places I’m sure and you always come out of them eventually.

    I hope the Arse give you a good win tonight to cheer you up.

  53. RockyLives says:

    Nice Post.
    I would stick with Pod on the left and start Oxo on the right – but I expect AW to start Pod left and Gerv right, just to annoy us 🙂

    If Gibbs is fit he should play and form would indicate that TV drops to the bench, but as he’s captain it will probably be Koz who gives way.

  54. Red Arse says:

    We need your 5 predictions Rocky! 🙂

  55. RockyLives says:

    What’s the rush?

    I’m studying form, fitness, tactics, systems, the alignment of planets, the moss on the trees, the intestines of small rodents, the mutterings of strange shamans in shabby caves and much, much more.

    After my humiliation last weekend I intend to come out fighting.

  56. glic says:

    Hahaha Rocky, I`m glad I have a fellow weird predictor, but I think my looking for strange patterns in my neighbours thrown away binned jam rag`s takes the biscuit !. hahahaha

  57. Red Arse says:

    Hi Rocky, 🙂

    I’m going to win anyway, so it’s just to wrap up the loose bits and pieces!

    Glic’s the loose bits and you’re the ………… 😀

  58. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi Rocky 🙂

    Good to see you take your time re predictions as honour is at stake. I listen at most five minutes to my gut and that’s long enough!

    I reckon Arsene will change as little as possible for this game and depending on Gervinho’s fitness levels, he is likely to give preference to the dome-man over the Ox.

    GLiC 🙂 You are in fine form today. I listen to your video again today and, for some strange reason, it made me laugh a lot more the second time. A friend of mine thought they were great too. 🙂

  59. RockyLives says:

    “the mutterings of strange shamans in shabby caves” and right on cue, there’s GLiC 😀

  60. RockyLives says:

    Speaking of weird predictors, when I was a kid we used to get taken to the dog racing at Catford, South London (long since closed down).

    My uncle had a strange theory on which dog to bet on. He would watch them intently while they were being paraded, and if any of them had a dump he would immediately bet on that dog.

    “Well, it’s a weight off his mind, ain’t it?” he used to say.

    I don’t think he won any more than anyone else, but he was convinced it worked.

  61. glic says:

    Hahaha Total, with the script writing, special effects, studio, costumes, lighting , camera`s, editing etc and kitchen sink, ( Redders was the most expence as voice over man at 20 p ) I think I blew my budget with 27 pence !. hahaha

  62. glic says:


    Thing is, it makes sense to me !. hahaha

  63. glic says:

    Talking of dogs, Total, how goes the dog search ?
    As a last resort, have you tried your local Korean take-away ?.

  64. TotalArsenal says:

    Hahaha, Glic. We are going to have a look at a dog we saw last weekend, and some choc lab puppies as well. I am nae keen, but the girls are desperate for one: I have a blog and they want a dog; it’s only fair, I guess.. 😛

  65. glic says:

    Looking for dogs on the blogsphere, would that make you a dogger whose dogging ?. hahaha

  66. glic says:

    I would go for the Choc Lab, lovely dogs ( normally )

  67. TotalArsenal says:

    Agreed, come at a cost though; about £650 – a lot dearer than a blog!

  68. glic says:

    I know, not cheap, but a lot cheaper than a new girlfriend. It wont bleed you dry, moan, argue, have headaches, will never cheat on you and will give you 100% unconditional love and you can dress it up in an Arsenal kit with a number 10 and Bergkamp written on it !.
    There 100`s more reasons , but I think you get the drift !. hahaha

  69. oz gunner says:

    all confirmed now TA it’s benitez. It was never going to happen for matteo, he was always facing an uphill battle. I agree, i hope it costs them and they suffer. Benitez will need more money for signings but i suppose that’s the natural order of things at chelsea.

    Enjoy the game everyone. bloody 330 is far too early. I’m going to circulate a petition to get games played earlier!!!

  70. TotalArsenal says:

    Evening fellow fine Gooners,

    Job done, hey?! 🙂

    I was really impressed with Arsenal’s professionalism tonight. As expected, Montpellier kept it tight and pressed us all-over the pitch in the first half; as a result we struggled to make things happen at times. But they are toothless up-front and were never going to hurt us.

    The boys stepped it up in the 2nd half and Giroud just became provider; setting up Jack and the Pod. Good goals by both and when the Pod scored the volley I shouted in the pub: have that one van Persie! Embarrassing, I know, but I don’t care! 😛

  71. TotalArsenal says:

    Oz, yeah that is a tough time for you mate. Luckily the boys did us proud, especially in second half.

    Benitez indeed confirmed: I rest my case.

  72. TotalArsenal says:

    Terry, those two goals tonight were for you philos. 🙂

  73. VCC says:

    I would go for the Boxer. Best temperament, Superb with children , strong and loyal, and protective towards their family.

  74. TotalArsenal says:

    New Post – NEW POST 🙂

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