Who will replace Flamini and who will start on the ‘wings’?

Thoughts on the game tonight

A 'rare' start for Nacho?

A ‘rare’ start for Nacho?

So tonight we really get to see whether this imperious form we’ve been in was down to a lucky fixture list or do we really have the stuff of champions. Arsenal play their toughest game so far this season against last years champions league runners up. There’s a lot to be said about this fixture so I’ll get down to it.

Arsenal go into the game on the back of an incredible unbeaten run, confidence sky high and with the squad looking healthy and raring to go. Flamini has been ruled out of the tie and I think he’s going to be a big miss. However, I think Ramsey should be a no brainer to start alongside Arteta in the centre of the park with Ozil in front of them. On the left flank, I expect Cazorla to get the nod and on the right i’d stick with Jack. I expect Rosicky to get some game time and probably Gnabry and Bendtner too. The latter’s involvement dependent on how the game goes. The only change I’d make would be to give Gibbs a rest and play Monreal tonight.

Dortmund on the other hand have had a shaky start to their Bundesliga campaign but I can assure you that it will count for nothing if we do not play our A game. In fact Jurgen Klopp has gone as far as branding BVB the underdogs of the tie which I don’t believe is true, but then again what do I know? They have their fair share of injuries but still have an incredible team. They miss Ilkay Gundogan but have Marco Reus back. Dortmund have 4 players whom I think must beΒ marshalled. Lewandowski is obviously a no brainer but the more dangerous ones (for me) will be Reus, Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan, especially for counter attacks. Ramsey must continue his form and will be called upon to help out Arteta, especially once we lose the ball. Wilshere too must be ready to defend when needed.

I expect this to be an open game so the tactic should be to try to strike early and decisively. By this I mean, if we can take a 2 goal lead into the half we will force BVB to come out and go for it which will swing things in our favour. BVB, despite having two very good defenders in Hummels and Subotic, aren’t known for their collective defensive capability so I’m hoping we can take full advantage of that.

Sagna and Gibbs/Monreal will have to be at their best because choking out Aubameyang and especially Reus will be a necessity if we are to keep BVB at bay. Reus is an incredibly talented, incredibly mobile player so there will have to be clear communication and coordination between our defenders if we are to stop him. The two are Lewandowski’s main supply lines, and so this is a priority.

Finally, if we can impose our game on them and dictate proceedings (and not just for a period of the game but for the full 90 mins) I feel we can get the points. Wenger must know that if the team takes the foot off the pedal for even a few minutes, BVB can and probably will punish us. I will not predict the scores or outcome of the game but all I will say is that I feel good about it. This is a game the neutrals will enjoy as it features two of the best attacking sides in Europe.

Come on You Gooners!!!!

Written by Marcus

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36 Responses to Who will replace Flamini and who will start on the ‘wings’?

  1. alcide says:

    Thanks for the nice post Marcus!

    Damn, I only have time for a few quick comments right now.

    I mostly agree with your line-up, it is quite logical. It is however possible TR7 will get the nod over just-back-on-the-pitch Santi; with Flam missing (a significant blow for that game), Thomas’ tackles and speed may be a great asset in midfield. On Nacho, I don’t think that is not the right game for him to start – Gibbs pace will be important to defend against PEA – I mean the guy is faster than Theo. To be honest, with Flam’s absence and a need to defend against pacy attackers and a Reus proficient in the hole, I wouldn’t exclude a few AW surprises on the line up.

  2. Marcus says:

    TR7 could come in for either Jack or Santi and still it wouldn’t compromise our quality. I agree with you regarding TV5 the only problem is his extreme lack of match fitness. I mean he hasn’t played any game for us this season, has he?

  3. Bassey Udo-mbang says:

    Like we say in Nigeria,”No shaking,carry go”I will advice every true gooner to be very positive about today’s match.As for me,100% sure we will take d three points at stake.

  4. Jay says:

    Yes you can GOONERS.. This season is ours. Now or never…

  5. oz gunner says:

    Brilliant stuff marcus. Can’t wait for this match, a shame it comes in the group stage. I’d go with:

    I just want to see gnabry run at them and I think he’ll give us a real x-factor. If not him I’d stick with jack or roz…shit I can’t make my mind up…what a luxury.!

    Enjoy the game all. 2-0 to arsenal

  6. Marcus says:

    I can see You’re all as pumped as I am for the game. Can’t wait.

    Oz Gunner,
    I think starting Gnabry would be a huge gamble purely because of his inexperience. Especially against such a huge side, in the UCL.

  7. alcide says:


    Sorry i meant Tomas (not Thomas – a lapsus as i was also thinking about him for speed…). Agreed on TR7 – in the end it’s going to be who’s fitter or fits our tactics best. Still expecting a surprise from AW though…

  8. JM says:

    Dortmund weak spot could be their right side defence: Piszczek is injured, and although Grosskreutz is a hard-worker, he is a winger by trade and will have a hard time dealing with a top quality attacking midfielder/winger in Cazorla/Rosicky.

    We should also look to press Nuri Sahin for the ball in our attacking third and overcome the close attentions from Sven Bender.

  9. geoffchase says:


    Great post. Total has email on this but here I think the secret is simple enough..

    It’s not Lewandowski, it’s the service. IMO, OG is having a similar kind of year, but, … but, if he doesnt get the ball… This is what we did to Napoli. Shut down their 10 and their ability to feed forward. This will require a hardheaded mindset to quickly front the ball with numbers on the transition, not just chase it back..

    Thus, with Flamini gone, I expect TR7 in midfield with Ramsey back with Arteta. Mids will fill out with Ozil and probably JW, Santi on the bench for impact… My take at least.

    The key will be when the ball turns over if we are aggressive in not letting Mkhit.. and their other mids. I.e. it’s not about stopping players, it’s about choking supply to a few key players. I dont care if they have the ball and constantly are passing backwards due to no options up front. We did this perfectly vs Napoli and need a repeat here.

    cheers — jgc

  10. alcide says:

    Well I must say that despite our form, and the exquisite recent offensive displays, my stomach is still tied in a knot (I guess it’s in my anxious nature), so bear that in mind while reading the following.

    BD are a fantastic side, easily top ten. They are the latest (and deserved) champion’s league finalists. Their midfield and attack are a threat against any side, moreover, their style might be a good fit against Arsenal – fast paced attackers (Reus, PEA), midfield with expertise in pressing and fast counter attacks… Will Sagna and Gibbs manage to contribute in attack on the wings, or will they have to be cautious to cover Reus and PEA respectively?

    BD’s excellent all-field pressing especially can be effective against us, as we’ve recently struggled moving the ball out under pressure from the back even against lesser teams. I’m also wary of Reus’ ability to burst in the hole between midfield and defense – right when and where you would see Flamini come in and disrupt plays. Only their defense may be a tad fragile due to recent injuries.

    I have no doubt we can win, but i guess it’s going to be a nail biter as there’ll be chances on both sides. At least I expect a nice game, and as long as we play our best, I have no doubt we can win – but to me it will be a great performance to do so.

    Waiting for our experts to post and reassure me now πŸ™‚

  11. alcide says:

    Hey jgc,

    It seems to me your key to beating BD also works the other way around πŸ™‚

  12. Nik says:

    22 from 27 points is not really a shaky start. I think it shows that even though they dont perform well so far they tend to get the job done.
    I believe flamini will be a big big miss today because he is the only truly defending midfielder we have. Ramsey will focus more on going forward even if he is supposed to play alongside arteta. Basically we are very vulnerable on the counter as Lewandowski, Reus, Aubameyang and Mkitharyan are a lot quicker than merte, arteta and sagna.
    If we are able to play our game throughout the 90 minutes we will find openings and score for sure, but if we give the ball away too often we will be in trouble.
    Would love to see us change to a back three with vermaelen, merte and koz, but thats obviously not going to happen. Hoping for another three poins tonight.
    By the way I’m off to university in Germany in my Arsenal shirt πŸ˜‰ COYG!!

  13. Gerry says:

    Marcus – You picked a toughie to preview, and I think you nailed the dangers nicely. Well done.
    Team choice will be varied, as each will have a case. I don’t much disagree on your line -up either. Arsene tends to stick with what he ca,n and just tinker around the edges. So usually that would be one forced change – Flamini – and one optional.The big question is, will the base be Saturday’s starting 11, or the one that finished off in style?

    I am with Alcide, I think there may be a surprise element. I will give my reasons first for what I have in mind.

    AW has favoured a double pivot to give our front guys the freedom to do their stuff?

    My inclination is that Arteta is better on the right side of that pivot.

    You mention one of their dangermen as midfielder, Mitchitaryan. He is a big danger. He is quick, tricky, pops up anywhere, and scores inside and outside of the box.
    We need a Flamini-esque player who can stick close to him?

    So my surprise move, is not a great leap into the dark by bringing on an academy player, much I would love to see a fully fit Yennaris to step up. No, the guy who ticks all the boxes for me is GIBBS.

    Your call for Monreal could be right, but for the wrong reasons. Rest Gibbs? He has played one game since spending a fortnight on the bench for England? So I just don’t get that reasoning, unless you think Monreal is the better defender in the big games?

    But if AW follows my line of thinking, it leaves three creative midfileders and Giroud to go and play havoc with what I think is their current weakness, their centre backs. I think Giroud has the most difficult task because both Subotic and Hummels read the game well and are very capable in the air, and nipping in front a striker like Giroud. But what Giro does do well is drag them forward, leaving gaps behind. From what I have seen so far this season, is that they are not so clever with nippy players and quick movement? We shall see how that pans out in reality.

    So my line up is as follows:







    This would be the defensive starting line up to keep the score at something – nil at half time. Then you can switch things around with Wilshere and Rosicky for a second half blitz?

    I only suggest this a possible starting 11, because I think it is more important we secure a draw, rather than a possible, but riskier, win/lose option? It would give us 7 points, and a home win against Marsielles would give us 10, and that should get us through without any points from the other two games. If Dortmund win all three games then they will also have 10 points, and would be top by virtue of their home win over us, and that is not a given. Napoli could get 12 points if they win their remaining 4 games, but that would eliminate everybody else, so we stay runners up with our minimum 10 points
    Bottom line is: A draw here gets us through.; A loss here means we could miss out altogether; Alternatively, a win would see us top the group, with that last home win?

    Will Arsene be adventurous or reckless? The result will supply the answer …

  14. Gerry says:

    Congratulations Nik – Glad you kept your head down. I take it this the 3rd year of a 4 year course?

    You can swell the numbers of the Arsenal Germany above their 300 membership πŸ˜€

    Enjoy it.

  15. Gerry says:

    Geoff – I think Napoli was slightly different because they rely more on Hamsik? Reus and PEA are not just distractions from big Lewi, they supply him as well. Michitaryan is far more difficult to control, hence my suggestion of using Gibbs’s speed to pick him up whenever they attack.

    However, that does have consequencies going forwards. I don’t see us having anybody out wide aside from the attacking midfielders?

    Have no fear though, I shall be wearing the ‘lucky scarf’ again πŸ˜€

  16. Nik says:

    Gerry its only my second week of at least 3 years at that university, intend to make a lasting impression today πŸ˜€

  17. Nik says:

    Only my second week of 3 years at this university. Intend to make a lasting impression πŸ˜€

  18. Gerry says:

    Nik, I thought I remember you saying that you were finishing your second year, so I thought it might be a ‘language’ year out.

    Still, enjoy it πŸ˜€

  19. James Bond says:

    nice one, Marcus

    it will be a classy affair, that’s for sure…

    we have to go for the kill and aim for it, we can afford to let them come at us a little more actually as we can hurt them on the counter attack, i don’t think Hummel’s will be playing ? as i didn’t see him play on satruday ?

    but either way, it’s a very nice headache dilemma to have and trust Gerry to always think outside the box and be a tad more creative with his team selection, it’s very interesting but one that i fear AW might not be adventurous enough to entertain, hence – Nacho out from Gerry’s line up and in comes Rosicky on the left with Jack Wilshere on the right…, yep. Santi on the bench for me , although whatever team we put out, it won’t compromise our quality at all

    i’ll take a hard fought entertaining 2-1 but i reckon it’s gonna be a 3-2 to us !

    but like i said, 1-1, 2-1, 2-2 are all jolly good as long as we don’t lose anyone to injury, we can ill afford it this week and the week after.

    may the footballing Gods have mercy !

    oh and according to my calculations if we draw both games against Dortmund, it looks like this….

    Dortmund = 2 points (2 draws)

    Napoli = 4 points (1 win 1 draw)

    Marselleile = 6 points ( 2 wins)

    we are through.

    like Gerry says, a draw may not be a bad result at all, however, since we are playing at home with the “hand brake off”, i fully expect us to take our confidence into the game and show the entire world that we’re not flat track bullies !

  20. Marcus says:

    Thank you all for your comments. Let me start with

    James Bond
    I think you have been a bit conservative with your point spread. I believe we can beat Napoli away and win tonight, all factors held constant.
    My call for Nacho isn’t that he is better than Gibbs or vice versa. I think that he’s raring to go and Gibbs needs a bit of a breather. He’s played practically all of our games so far and given his injury record, I feel we need not overload him with games especially when we have Nacho.

  21. Marcus says:

    By their standards they’ve had a shaky start. They’ve lost games to a few small teams. Even Klopp admits that they could’ve started better.

  22. henrychan says:

    Hi all..
    Marcus.. great post..
    No doubt.. Flamini is a very solid DM.. and with him around.. all the others midfield can focus to Attacking more..

    But.. well.. don’t forget.. all our players were train to do some defence job also.. hehe.. Ramsey.. wilshere.. cazorla and Ozil.. can also good on defence..

    So.. don’t worry to much for our defenders.. they will do just great.. hehe..
    Again.. not to underestimate Dortmund.. for I am a fans of them also.. a little bit.. hehe.. They’re not as good as last season.. and their energy isn’t the same..
    Mkhitaryan just not as good as goetze.. not yet.. and Sahin still finding his way back to his great performance..
    And they also have to miss Gundogan..

    Compare to us.. with so much energy at Emirates.. and Cazorla and Rosicky were back.. with Ramsey and Ozil are on fire.. I just can’t see a chance for them to even equalize us.. hahaha..
    Sound so proud and overestimate.. but that’s the truth.. We will see it in a few more hour.. hehe..
    3-1 for Arsenal.. Go Gunners..

  23. James Bond says:


    of course we can but that was me painting the scenario that would see us through to the knockouts.

    disagreed re- Nacho, just because he’s raring to go doesn’t mean he should be played, he is short on match fitness and was subbed for spain in the first half of their first international game – this is a big match and not one for Nacho based on his current form, he’ll play against Crystal Palace and then i expect him to be back to his relative best vs Chelsea – Gibbs gets a breather .

    i’m not sure what makes you say or think that Gibbs needs a breather at present, considering he didn’t play for england and had only trained with them ? all was done across the road as well – in London, which means less travel time and all that.

    hence, disagreed – entirely.

  24. James Bond says:

    where are the predictions @ JGC-DAMUS and where are you THE PUNTER πŸ™‚

    i’ve gone with a 3-2 and i see that Henrychan has chosen’s The Punters scoreline, ha

  25. James Bond says:

    opppps i’m sorry @ Marcus – that gibbs one was meant for Gerry and not me, my humble apologies for butting in !

    also, on a general note – sure Flamini’s absence will be felt but this just means that our back 4 have to stand up and be counted, just like the last few months of last season, sorted.

    points raised by Alcide are valid though re-Reus but let’s not forget how good Per is at reading the game and anticipation….

    i’m not worried about playing big teams this season, actually i’m very easy but 1 area of concern for me is a sending off – as long as we can manage to keep all 11 on the pitch , we will be ok

    will this game have an AW surprise ? one that he normally saves for Man utd ?

  26. geoffchase says:

    Alcide, Marcus, Gerry, JB et al

    Alcide: yes, it works everywhere, as football is football.. Good football wins. Period. That’s why we can win today, as we are very good at these transitions, BD a little less so. Proof of that for your comfort? How did Napoli beat BD?

    So it doesn’t mean much but BD are less “on” and missing Gundogan and others who provided that service. Ie they are all attack and running and less dirty work in transition. Tonite it shows. I can even argue before the result that they had a good draw last year as your Spanish teams are no match for their speed and fully fit DMs they had… We are a different beastie.

    JB, Gerry, Marcus: jgc-damus says 2-0 or 2-1 to the good guys. Ozil keen to impress is everywhere vs a German side.. Of course we have to shut down service and thus shut down Lewie. Let him and his serving men run free and bad things will follow in bunches.

    Oh and in the safer calls of recent times AR or OG to score! πŸ™‚ lately they don’t seem to score in the same games(?) but one will assist the other if Ozil doesn’t “steal” it!

    Cheers — jgc

  27. James Bond says:

    what are the odds on the BFG scoring from an OoooooOOoOzil delivery – i wonder….

  28. evonne says:

    marcus – good pre match, but 2 goals advantage in the first half? Bit optimistic in my opinion, but if we can repeat most recent performance, who knows? 2:1 for the good guys will do me fine. Plus, I watched Lewandowski in Poland v Ukraine last week and he missed sitters totally failing to impress me

    Happy Birthday Le Boss!!

  29. James Bond says:


    we have had the Lewandowski debate here before with the majority viewing him as a SQ striker – i still think he’s very over-rated and is decent at best .

    tonight will go a long way in tilting that opinion of him, as most will be watching and then we shall see if he’s a hit or a miss πŸ˜‰

    oh yeah, Wenger’s getting older but he is looking younger – happy 64th to the best manager in England πŸ˜‰

  30. Gerry says:

    JB – I get the point about Nacho, but he was on a fitness building process,and that 45 mins he played for Spain is the longest yet?

    My thinking is down both wings they will be a threat, and Gibbs will be at full stretch to cover both PEA and Mitiraryan? Likewise, Sagna with Reus and the overlapping LB? So Arteta will be our middle man while Ramsey assists in defense down the line. I expect them to start all guns blazing which is why I dropped my favoured option of Rosicky starting.

    But as we are all agreed it will be a ‘footballer’s’ match for us fans to enjoy.

    I tend to agree with Nik about Dortmund form. They were unbeaten going into the interlull, barring the blip at Napoli. We may find them harder to beat there than we did here?

    Gundogan is a miss for them, and Sahin is nowhere near as good, but is is hard to fault the frontline – whatever you may think of Lewandawski?

    On the plus side, with Ozil it seems to matter little who partners him going forwards, as all are in very good form. Santi will be sharper for his run out too.

    For both sides it will be how well each copes with the others’s attacks the best? I don’t do predictions, but I will say a 0-0 draw is the least likely. I think if AW is playing for a win, he may just drop JW back to the B2B and leave Ramsey as the ‘free runner, and that would allow Rosicky to start.

  31. Thanks Marvellous Marcus Monster !.

    This is a toughie, our last two home games against German opposition have ended in defeats, but although we have not had any of what I would call top opposition yet in the EPL ( apart from the spuds ), we have incurred a winning habit which gives us one of the most important assets of any successful team……..sky high confidence !.

    I shall record tonight`s game and just before 10pm, I shall ask Mrs Monster whether we have won or not, if we have, I shall then watch the game semi-live without knowing the score as watching the game live will only make a crumbly mess of my cookie Y-fronts !. Omm nom nom nom

  32. James Bond says:

    he played the full game match against WBA in the COC @ Gerry

    the 45 minutes were not his best , which cost him a place in the 2nd game for Spain.

    but looking at the bigger picture, i am expecting him to play on saturday vs Crystal Palace and then Chelsea as well…that will be good for his confidence levels and match fitness.

    i do see your point and that’s why i said it was a very creative and interesting starting 11, one that ensures us keeping things tight, however , if i was to play the devils advocate with your suggested line up then i would swap Gibbs for Nacho – reason being that i much rather Reus vs Gibbs as opposed to Reus vs Nacho – with Nacho performing the Flamini role.

    it’s a good starting 11 that you’ve put out , one that maybe has a realistic chance of happening in the future.

    Rosicky ahead of Santi on the left for me though and JW on the right, the same line up as Naples Plus JW for Flamini and we move Ramsey back to his natural position alongside captain Arteta.

    the reason why i want JW on the right is because both him and Ramsey can interchange rather freely and take turns, plus Ozil and JW partnership is very fluid…and Sagna can shield Jack much better than Gibbs.

  33. Gerry says:

    Yes, in form players make all suggestions viable. However, I think you will find Reus will face Sagna down the left and PEA on the right, although they do interchange a bit.

    I’m curious why Jack needs shielding? I want the backs being supported, not the other way around πŸ™‚

  34. James Bond says:

    by shielding i meant, when he stops at the half way line with 2 players surrounding him, you will find Sagna on a nice little overlap or making himself available for a pass –

    the gibbs and JW chemistry isn’t as good as the Sagna and JW one…similarly, JW also tracks back and helps him out, not that Sagna needs much help these days, ha

    message for the Punter – tonight’s game is on tele (ITV), i hope you don’t watch it on the stream online, ha

    PS:Admir, Milo – both have gone Awol, Admir in particular hasn’t popped in for a while.

  35. TotalArsenal says:

    New Post New Post πŸ™‚

    If you liked the starter, the main course is even better! πŸ™‚

  36. TotalArsenal says:

    Nice game warmer, Marcus and fully agreed. Thanks for the post! πŸ™‚

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