Rest for Alexis, Danny-Ollie-Ox in attack? Arsenal Preview | Line-Up

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I have only been once to the Britannia and luckily we won; but, unfortunately, this is not the main memory I have from that notorious day. My boss back then was not really into football, but he wanted to ‘experience’ a Premiership game. He lived near to the proverbial hole that is Stoke and so I organised tickets for him, his eleven year old son and myself. I warned him in advance that he and his son would encounter some bad language.

The atmosphere in the stadium was pretty aggressive as relationships between the clubs and their managers were far from good. We sang that they were nothing more than ‘just a fecking throwy’ – a reference to Rory Delap’s towel-dried long-distance ball throws which landed like V2s in our penalty area on a constant basis. And they would sing ‘Rory is going to get you; Rory is going to get you’. Of course, this was all a bit of harmless fun, but the footie on the pitch was not.

The whole ‘let’s rough Arsenal up’ got an entire new meaning when Ramsey’s leg got smashed to pieces that day. It was a careless, vicious foul by Shawcross and one that will not be forgotten by me, or indeed many more Gooners who witnessed the assault at the ground or on TV. The fans were incensed and my boss and his son witnessed the sort of language and behaviour by the away fans they had never encountered before – but with good reason. He wanted an experience and he got one – one he will not forget in a hurry.. 🙂

The injury to Aaron rattled the players but leaders Fabregas and Super Sol guided us to victory, and I will never forget how the two pumped their fists in the air in front of the away fans after the game.

I have no doubt that things are a bit more settled between the clubs now. But, a combination of Stoke losing a few games on the trot and the continuous troubled relationship between Hughes (their current manager) and Wenger, as well as Arsenal really needing a win to keep momentum going and settle ourselves in the top-four, have the potential of this becoming a fiery, possibly nasty, encounter. And both Ramsey and Shawcross will be on the pitch once again, of course.

So, for me this is not a game for boys but for men. We need to keep our heads cool and yet fight fire with fire: never let them intimidate us, but match their physicality whilst outplaying them with our superior football skills.

We have our shape back now that Giroud has recovered, which is key for our ability to win this game: stick to our shape and game plan; stay solid and compact at the back and in the middle and attack them with focus and creativity – and take our chances when they come…

We need a strong spine throughout the team, and with Szczesny, BFG-Koz (hopefully)-Flamini-Ramsey and Giroud we will have it. My starting eleven are: Szczesny (Martinez would be okay too but I prefer the experience of Wojciech for this one), Gibbs (hopefully fully fit), BFG, Koz(or Chambers, if unfit), Chambers (or Bellerina), Flamini/Ramsey in the DM pivot, Santi in the hole, Welbeck and Ox on the wings and Giroud upfront. Keep Alexis on the bench for this one, just in case we need him: I would try and rest him for a week as he looks knackered to me (and therefore at injury risk).

Preferred (and more or less predicted team, depending on fitness of players):

Arsenal v Stoke Dec 14

This team can do it, and with Alexis and Pod on the bench we have two strong game changers available if needed. May the Injury-Gods be with us! 🙂


Written by: TotalArsenal.

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16 Responses to Rest for Alexis, Danny-Ollie-Ox in attack? Arsenal Preview | Line-Up

  1. Funminiyi says:

    I’m first to this…..,what a way to end my self-imposed exile and what a game to improve on our point haul. 0-2 to the gooners.

  2. Funminiyi says:

    I’d like to see Joel Campell later in this game, i pray we’ll be protecting our lead by then. I think he’s well suited to games like this.

  3. Funminiyi says:

    Nice short and concise post Total 😉

  4. TotalArsenal says:

    Nice to see you back, Funminiyi 🙂

    What have you been up to?

    Agreed on Campbell. He needs more playing time

  5. trugun says:

    IMO Alexis should be nowhere near this game to say he would be targeted would be an understatement. I would sooner we lose this one than see Alexis kicked off the park by shawcross and his thugs.

  6. TotalArsenal says:

    Agreed trugun, there is a big risk.

  7. 17highburyterrace says:

    Hey TA, you’ve got mail…Sorry, I only had a minute before ferrying the kid elsewhere so I sent in the preview, w/o checking the comments here on the site…If you had told me you were at THAT match, I never would’ve volunteered… What an experience, indeed….

    Our line-ups almost match–10 out of 11, well 9 as I think Szcz will have to wait until Istanbul to retake the keeper role. I’m not as worried about Alexis… Taking the crowd out of the match early seems a primary tactic and I’m more concerned about trying to take the points. We can rotate in Turkey… or vs Toonies at our place. Stoke are an improved side and this one will NOT be easy…

    Anyhow, you can do what you like with the post… More e-mail coming shortly… Apologies (and no worries…)

  8. henrychan says:

    Hi all..
    Nice post TA.. You bring that sentimental memory aluve.. hehe..
    But I must disagree with you about our team..
    We need a strong players come out first..
    The players like Podolski.. Rosicky.. and Flamini.. must play first to breakdown their brutality.. hahaha..
    Sanchez is also a strong man.. don’t worry to much about him.. we still need him tonight.. We can rest him for Galatasaray..
    And for me Martinez is much better than Szesney.. hehehe.. and already give us a solid three cleansheet in a row.. Why put a risk for such unstable GK as Szcesney..

    So I wish for :
    Chambers – Mertesaker – Kocielny – Gibbs
    Flamini – Rosicky
    Sanchez – Cazorla – Podolski

    Giroud is our supersubs.. either for Podolski or Welbeck..
    And Ramsey need to play also.. he had a reason to do his best in this game.. for sentimental way of course..

    Let’s win the game.. and hope for Newc and Everton do their jobs.. hahaha..

  9. JM says:

    My team (4-3-3):

    (GK)Martínez, (RB)Chambers, (RCB)Mertesacker(c), (LCB)Koscielny, (LB)Gibbs, (DM)Flamini, (RCM/AM)Oxlade-Chamberlain, (LCM/AM)Cazorla, (RIF)Welbeck, (LIF)Alexis, (CF)Giroud

    (GK)Szczęsny, (RB)Bellerin, (R/LCB)Ajayi, (R/LCM)Maitland-Niles, (R/LCM)Ramsey, (LIF)Podolski, (RIF)Campbell

  10. Gerry says:

    Nice one TA – But the game, I fear will not be?

    I do think our recent change to a more defensive, ‘see what you can do’ approach, will upset the predictable Stoke tactics? They have been used to us going up there with an attitude of ‘we are better than you, and we’re going to play football’ … which puts all their energy into making sure we can’t?
    Now I think the perception should aim for is that we will accept a point, so it is up to Stoke, the home side, to try and play the football and try to win it. It is one thing using thuggery in defence, but a totally different need to not do it in attack? Yes they can close down with a few niggly fouls, but that is unlikely to win possession? if we can counter while they are out of position, and therefore have fewer players to hide their thuggery, is the way to go methinks?
    What worries me is something I touched on previously, that is this change in attitude by referees to allow play to go on no matter how some tackles are made. This is a ‘man’s game’ seems to be flavour of the month, and for that reason I don’t think some of our players should, or will, play. Especially if we get an Anthony Taylor type?
    I doubt Kos will be risked. Too much of an easy target? I am not too sure about the OX either. Or Welbeck for that matter, both only just scraping into the team on Wednesday after taking knocks. The team I would like to see is:
    Bellerin ____BFG _____Chambers___Flamini
    _____Maitland-Niles ____Ramsey

    Lined up in a conservative 4-5-1, but switching to a 4-2-4 on the counter.

    I noted JM had M-N on his bench, and he has ‘connections’? But I think if you want to keep a nice defensive shape with a player who can tackle, and get forward, M-N could be the answer?
    Unless Ajayi steps up for a CB spot, also on JM’s bench note, then I see little alternative to Chambers and Flamini switching to their respective roles. Bellerin will do fine on the other side, although, as for the Saints game, he is an option if Gibbs is risked? The front four are seasoned professionals and won’t get bullied. Poldi in particular is mightily puffed up at the moment? Mind, he will only last an hour, and Alexis could be part of a double change with Welbeck and Gnabry finishing things off.
    Keep the ‘good guys’ fresh for Gala, and Alexis can sit on the bench unless needed.. I watched Dortmund for a while last night. They are still vulnerable.

    Keep the faith …

  11. TotalArsenal says:

    Henry, if we see both Pod and Rosa start you will get an special mention in the next post…. doubt it though! 🙂

  12. TotalArsenal says:

    JM, you might be close with that one but I cannot see Arsene leave Ramsey out. The Ox next to Flamini would be fun though.

  13. TotalArsenal says:

    I would like to see that line up as well, Gerry. Not sure though whether it should be today. I like your thinking though. 🙂

  14. D-Money says:

    Whilst I understand and agree with the calls for rotation. (Im generally a fan or rotation and not playing the same team each week anyways, but as we know Wenger isn’t…)
    Wenger has said that we looked tired in the last quarter v Saints. Last time Wenger said that after Anderlecht he played the same team bar an injury enforced change a few days later v Swansea and we lost…
    Wenger said that Alexis is in the red zone and is pushing his body to the limit and is at risk of an injury…so to start him after saying that would be strange me thinks.
    In any case, the game in Istanbul is a lot more meaningless and may be a better game for rotation. Gala are out and cant even snick the 3rd spot for Europa League so they literally have nothing to play for (besides pride obviously), so I think that game would be ideal for rotation.
    As for Stoke besides Alexis, I wouldnt change much. Here is how I would go:
    Martinez (Im with JB on Scz so there’s that)

  15. TotalArsenal says:

    Well you had the starter; here is the main course served up by one of the finest of pre-match writers, 17HT. Enjoy 🙂

    New Post New Post! 🙂


    You might want to move your comment into the next post.

  16. steve says:

    great post TA! i can’t believe you were there for that game and in such difficult circumstances to start with lol – great story mate and a great read! 🙂

    I guess we will find out how much of a gambling man Wenger is today. If you ask me two players have been overwhelmingly responsible for our renewed structure and winning results within the team as of late – Kos and Sanchez.

    Kos has been monitored for the last couple of days over his ongoing injury and Sanchez looked a little knackered (not surprising) in the last game. So the question is do you risk fatigue and injury to two players that have begun to put our season back on track for a win away at stoke. Can you guys remember what we were like back when Kos was missing? do we want to risk that situation again? even more so with Monreal now injured as well? But without his strength in defense wont Stoke completely bully us at the back?
    Its a huge gamble and a very difficult decision to make – glad i’m not the boss today!

    I personally would rest them both and then again for the Gala match so that they both have a nice long rest before the influx of games over the xmas period – but that’s just me.

    I’m playing it safe and would go for something like this:


    Cazorla for OX, if he looks lost in that role
    Campbell for Podolski if he begins to tire
    cross your fingers Gibbs doesn’t get injured

    I know that looks inexperienced at the back and slightly untested up front but i simply don’t value a win at stoke over protecting Kos and Sanchez for the rest of the hectic x-mas period, it wouldn’t be pretty but maybe we could grind out a draw or even nick a win.

    Gerry, i think Rosicky has picked up an injury mate

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