Paulista first start | Theo, Santi, Ozil, Rosa behind OG: Preview & Predicted Line-up

Arsenal – Middlesbrough FA Cup 5th Round Match Preview

Minimal changes or Roll the Dice?

What Would Constitute a Win?

Paulista could make his first start against Middlesborough

Paulista could make his first start against Middlesborough

Following on from the last post on this fine blog, I thought I might try my hand at a little Haiku.  Here goes my attempt at 17 ‘syllables’:

It’s just a game, right?

Misery is in the eye

Of the beholder

Arsenal host Middlesbrough in the marquee time-slot (Sunday, 16:00) of Round 5 of the FA Cup, as they continue in their attempt to defend the trophy they won a season ago.  With so many top clubs already out of the competition a home draw against a club from a lower division seemed a good one.  But is it?

By drawing Middlesbrough at home, a team that got there by beating the Premier League Champions, Manchester City–on their own ground–in the previous round, Arsenal are now the hunted scalp.  To a neutral this is a mouthwatering cup tie and a classic David vs Goliath affair.  To Arsenal supporters it is something altogether different.  Can Arsenal actually “win” this sort of tie?  What sort of match–in terms of result AND performance–will it take to satisfy our support?

Most certainly the 2-1 league win in midweek vs Leicester City, winners of the Championship a year ago but currently sitting bottom of the Premiership, was not enough.  Consensus suggests that we rode our luck in that one and were dominated by the smaller club in the 2nd half.  Injuries to key players Alexis Sanchez (already coming off a couple of missed matches) and Aaron Ramsey added to the sense of gloom.  The three points were nice, but having lost that same quantity to arch-rivals Tottenham at the weekend, they seemed far from sufficient to restore full confidence.

Middlesbrough have no such issues.  They are currently in the exact position Leicester finished a year ago.  They’re top of the Championship and have won six matches on the trot and haven’t lost in ten.  They say that winning is a habit, so my hunch is that our opponents will come believing they can get one.  Simply remaining unbeaten in the calendar year would work a treat as well.   A draw would mean a replay up on Teeside and an additional mid-week fixture.  While Boro would prefer going straight through to the quarterfinals, a tough midweek trip to the Northeast is the last thing Arsenal need, given that the Champions League elimination matches begin later this month.

Moreover, Middlesbrough have been winning by defending first.  In 30 matches this season they have conceded only 20 goals.  In these last ten matches, only three.  Manager Aitor Kananka, a disciple of Jose Mourinho, has got his players working as a group, looking to defend from the front and counterattack at pace.   It worked at the Etihad, so why not at the Emirates?  Winning the match, on the scoreboard alone, may be tough enough.

Beyond the pressure to outscore the opponent there is pressure to rotate players.  Typically, Arsene Wenger uses the domestic cup matches as a chance to rest a few regulars and give others a chance.   No matches until the weekend and the fact that it is our trophy to defend, however, may alter the calculus.  Still, as results and performances fail to satisfy, would-be managers suggest things would be better if we only played _____.  Others, sharper with their tongues and their keyboards, suggest that certain players who have failed (in their eyes) need to be rested, if not benched entirely (or sold).

It makes sense, of course.  After all, something new and something different are what we hope for when gifts are wrapped and sitting under the tree.  The festive season is not so far behind us, after all, nor is the season of giving to ourselves–the January transfer window.  We’ve got a big Brazilian defender all ready to go and surely he’ll get his debut.  If Gabriel Paulista comes in to spell the aching Achilles tendons of Laurent Koscielny and plays in tandem with Per Mertesacker, ahead of our dropped (or merely disciplined?) keeper, Wojciech Szczesny, Arsenal will have one of the tallest central defences in all of football.  Not many have seen Gabriel in action so some may have their doubts.  Will he be a compliment to the other big men or will it be too much of the same (tall, thin) thing?

If those changes are the obvious ones, how many more can Arsenal afford?

Not too many, I think.   It appears that Spaniards Nacho Monreal and Hector Bellerin have nailed down starting roles as fullbacks, just as Francis Coquelin seems to have done at the defensive midfield position.  Will those three go again or will any (or all) of Kieran Gibbs, Calum Chambers or Mathieu Flamini be given the nod?  Up front, Olivier Giroud only came on as a sub vs Leicester, so he likely goes straight back in to the first 11 in place of Alexis.  Theo Walcott scored in midweek but many were unimpressed by the remainder of his game.  Is this then a chance for Danny Welbeck?  Some have even suggested that Chuba Akpom might get his first start.   And who will fill out the midfield?  Mesut Ozil is in fine form, but Santi Cazorla’s seems to be on the wane.  Jack Wilshere has been training with the first team for several weeks and should make the bench at least.  Could he go straight into Ramsey’s spot or will Tomas Rosicky, who started there on Tuesday, reprise the role?

My point is that calling the starting 11 is anybody’s guess.  Here’s mine:

ars v middlesbrough Feb 15

(Predicted subs: Ospina, Chambers, Gibbs, Flamini, Wilshere, Welbeck, Akpom)

That’s only three changes from Tuesday.  Personally, I think too many more would be too much.  In my opinion, against such an in-form opponent, consistency and predictability are needed.  Players knowing each others’ games and preferences can be a precious commodity.  With only minimal changes the new players can step in, based on what they’ve observed in their teammates.  Needing goals against a team poised on the counter, our ability to balance attack with defending could be the difference maker.  Too many changes might compromise that critical element.

What sort of line-up would you expect and/or prefer?  Also, what would constitute a “win” for you in this cup tie?

In my opinion, and carrying on from my Haiku, too many Gooners, perhaps spoiled by the memories of past glories, seem in it only for the larger triumphs.  Personally, I have faith that further glory lies ahead, but even if it doesn’t there are games to be played and enjoyed.  This season has been a struggle, but, with players coming back from long term injury and the emergence of some real quality in the youth ranks (Chambers, Bellerin, Akpom) and some squad players making claims to starting spots (Monreal, Ospina, Coquelin) we seem on the up.  Gabriel has yet to be seen in action, but his transfer filled a real hole in the squad.  Additionally, we put to bed the notion that Arsenal can only play one way and are always at risk of a drubbing against the bigger clubs.   The very well fought win of our own up at Manchester City less than a month ago, where we had only a third of the possession (but all of the goals), we hoped, seemed a real  turning point.

To be at the highest level, the level to which a club like Arsenal aspires, means that matches against the smaller clubs are expected to be won–and won in style.  Still, they must be played; meaning the result–and the experience–must be risked.  Can a journey with uncertainty and risk be enjoyed or can it only produce anxiety which is then laid to rest only until the next one?  In other words, have supporters gotten to the point where only the destination can be enjoyed?  I would hope the twists and turns, ups and downs, and memories made along the way can be just as satisfying as the moment the trophy is lifted, the confetti flies and the bubbly is uncorked.   Maybe the journey itself IS what it’s all about…

That journey continues tomorrow afternoon at 4, in our stadium, against Middlesbrough, in the 5th round of the FA Cup.  Go on…

By 17highburyterrace

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83 Responses to Paulista first start | Theo, Santi, Ozil, Rosa behind OG: Preview & Predicted Line-up

  1. TotalArsenal says:

    Fantastic post 17 and love the haiku – it is indeed in the eye of the beholder! 🙂

    I love the statistical background info re Boro and, like you, I am a bit more concerned about them now. In a way it is good that they are in very good run of games as we are simply warned that this will not be a walk in the park. And starting with the right attitude and professionalism is always important, especially in a cup tie. The starting line up looks very good to me and one that can mean business, although I remain worried that the Theo-Bellerin speed-trains combo might leave big gaps in our defence once more. If Rosicky is the one who will be giving Coquelin defensive support, I hope he will play with that responsibility in mind. We don’t need him to push too much forward as we have Ozil and Santi to deliver the creative stuff, and I hope we will have learned from the narrow Foxes win this week….

  2. St. Henry says:

    Hi 17 – echo what TA has already said – great post! 🙂 I agree with you that minimal changes will likely be the order of the day and the lineup. Given that this is a home game and the goal scoring form that Theo is in, it would be a good idea to play him instead of Welbeck. If we can get the early goal in, then it might get Boro to go to their Plan B. Just wondering how close Bellerin is to his red zone. Might Gibbs & Chambers get some playing time since Wenger talked of playing folks who had not seen action? Having said that, if Gabriel plays, perhaps Monreal is the better choice because of the language difficulties that Gabriel’s been having?

  3. AB says:

    Hi 17. Great warm up for the game. I replied to your last comment on the previous post, but it doesn’t relate to this one, so I won’t copy in here.

    I agree with you, we can’t be having wholesale changes, or we will be caught out by a very confident opponent. Gabriel to start? Possibly, given he needs to be given a run out before he is called on as a result of injury; but time to get some English would help him I’m sure. Further forward, I wonder whether we have both Oz and Santi tomorrow, given we are going to get a very committed and physical challenge? I would expect to see Danny start tomorrow for his strength and work rate, and I wonder if Santi might not get a rest. If Gibbs is fully fit, I would also expect him to get a chance; he can’t just be left on the bench for the rest of the season surely?!

    Overall, really hard to predict tomorrow, in terms of squad and likely performance. We are missing a lot of the more forceful players that I would like us to be able to field. What I look for most in games like these is early energy, drive and commitment. What I fear is cocky complacency, with players trying to be flash; if we come out like that, then we will come unstuck.

  4. old timer says:

    Have simular feelings this is certainly not a shoe in. Would prefer Gibbs and Chambers to Bellerin and Monreal. It could turn our season round but I worry if we don’t. But time will tell.

  5. jw1 says:

    Rosiscky and Coquelin can dictate in the midfield.
    Hoping Tomas gives a performance approaching his MOTM outing vs. Brighton.
    Prefer Giroud up front to receive, hold, and distribute– a necessity IMO against Mourinho-inspired tactics.

    Tuesday, Leicester nearly made good on the counter– on several occasions– late in the match.
    Scary stuff where Ospina made the difference. Here’s to Szczesny bringing a similar effort if required.

    jw1

  6. steve says:

    Great job HT, thoroughly good read as usual 🙂

    Those three in the forward midfield look a little lacking in the pressing, tracking back and closing down department, if Rosicky slacks in his B2B duties with those three in front of him then i see an awful lot of pressure being put on Coquelin.

    That being said the players that would normally be integrated for this very reason are all injured lol (Ramsey, OX, Sanchez, Wilshere)

    So with this in mind can’t see anything wrong with that predicted line up HT and i suspect it will be very near the actual one.

    Me being me i still have to give a preferred line up that is more to my crazy tastes but a predicted one would look very similar to yours matey.

    My preferred line up;

    Akpom———-Welbeck———-Walcott
    ———————-Ozil————————
    ———Rosicky———Coquelin———-
    Gibbs——GP5———BFG——-Bellerin
    ——————-Szczesny——————–

    More tomorrow before the game but just had to say a quick thanks for the post HT, cheers matey, great job! 🙂

  7. TotalArsenal says:

    It is indeed hard to predict the exact line up for tomorrow, especially in defence.

    I reckon it will be something like this:

    The PIG
    Chambers – BFG – PaulisTA – Nacho
    ——— Flam——Le Coq————–
    Theo——Rosicky/Santi———-Ozil
    —————-Giroud——————–

    Coquelin to do the b2b stuff, whilst also there to support Flam with the counter attacks. Rosa or Santi to do the creative stuff, whilst interchanging with Ozil. Maybe Akpom starts instead of Giroud, and Welbeck could start instead of Theo or Ozil.

  8. geoffchase says:

    Hi 17

    I like the lineup… Figure that Boro are exactly one place lower than Leicester in an overall total ranking…. Thus, not a whole league away like we sometimes think…

    If there are any differences, I’d say Welbeck for another chance up front, or/and Echo TAs call to see Flamini…. Interesting to see…

    I think Ozil and Santi will be able to hold the ball or find the open man as needed. Thus, could be time for Wekbeck or Akpom speed… We will see…

    Cheers — jgc

  9. 17highburyterrace says:

    Thanks fellas…Late night here… Yeah, I could see some additional changes and AB makes a good point that it’s been quite a while since Gibbs has played. Flamini started the last FA Cup tie while Coquelin came on as a sub (as I recall). In that one Kos and Chambers had a bit of a struggle defending on our right side, while Per rested. The shouts for Welbeck in (Santi on the bench?) also make a lot of sense.

    Only A-Dub knows and the result will likely be the sole judge as to whether or not he gets it right. One positive note, I think, is that Boro are only top of the Championship by a single point and only clear of the playoff spots by two. As such, getting out of this competition to focus on the promotion fight might be a bit of a silver lining for them… No such luxuries for the Arsenal, I would imagine…

    Comments so far don’t answer what would qualify as a win. At the moment, winning the scoreline seems more than sufficient but we’ll see how that goes…

    Night, night…

  10. geoffchase says:

    17

    Winning pretty is overrated, and just winning regardless, barring outright cheating, is under rated… So, your question answers itself, no? 🙂 😛

    Cheers — jgc

  11. geoffchase says:

    Now, ideally

    Rest Sanchez and Koz, AND win the scoreline with those not needing rest.

    Cheers — jgc

  12. FLO8 says:

    Good pre match post 17! I think your starting line up is bang on what we’ll see versus Boro.

    Personally I would like to see:
    ——————-Szczesny—————
    Bellerin—-Chambers—Kos—–Gibbs
    ——-Rosicky—Coquelin—Santi——
    Ozil————–Welbeck———-Walcott

    I think Gibbs and Welbeck could do with a match and I prefer Welbeck centrally than on either wing. Wouldn’t mind seeing Per get a deserved rest and hence I’ve gone for A more like for like replacement in Chambers as oppose to Gabriel who for me is more a Kos style centre half. Contemplated rotating Flamini for Coquelin but Francis should still be reasonably fresh. Would really like to see Ozil and Walcott be played on opposite wings to their preferred foot and cutting inside when we are attacking throughout the match. I thought versus Tottenham and Leicester we lacked directness from our wing play and believe the above proposal may rectify that, with our fullbacks providing with.

    Steve, love the idea of Akpom and Walcott on the flanks. Not sure about Ozil in the hole without two bruising defensive midfielders sitting in behind him. I don’t think Arsenal have two midfielders from the current cohort to play those roles.

  13. Gerry says:

    Yes, the voice of reason has come to the fore. Excellent post HT.

    Like like Steve, I question things here and there, but on the whole I think you have it about right. Read that as AW’s likely line up.

    My one change would be Santi to the bench and Akpom on the left. Twofold reasoning. One, he adds the pace and threat going forwards that Alexis would. Therefore better exchange in terms of balance, if not like for like. Secondly, if we play Giroud up front, whether in the holding role, he needs players to reach him quickly, on both wings. Welbeck would be the alternative, but Chuba has the instant acceleration that might be vital. If Giroud gets drawn deeper to help the defence -*(see postscript) – … if Giroud is deep, we have no (long) out ball. but Akpom is better equipped to run into the space that the Boro’ – **(see postscript). I also think Akpom can do this better than Welbeck, and I hope he can crown it with a goal or two.

    Pity AW didn’t see my argument about playing Gabriel against Leicester when he would have had Ospina, another Spanish speaker behind him, if language is such a problem?

    I had in mind that if GP5 replaces Kos, and thought he might switch to the right side, but if Monreal plays. then it keeps the Back 5 more ore less intact. From AW’s words on him, I think we can expect a big performance from GP5 today? I have no problem with Bellerin playing as I think his forward runs might be restricted this time?

    Finally, one thing we should be aware of, and I have mentioned it before, is any ‘planned substitutions’ should not contained too many that HAVE to be made, regarding fitness, etc. One reason why I don’t think Alexis will start, especially as Walcott might be one not to finish the 90, Giroud, and/or Akpom, which what possibly counts against both the latter or the former starting?
    Ozil too, is probably more preferred than absolutely necessary? I think we can assume that Gabriel will be okay, barring red cards, remembering who the ref is today? That brings in Coquelin too. It is the unplanned ones that can throw the whole thing out late on.
    I am not too sure of your bench, especially if the duo of Santi and Ozil play together, as it means only one can get withdrawn as we haven’t a like for like, only a half fit Wilshere, unless Rosicky is pushed forward? But we shall see. I would like a spot for Bielik as proper cover for Coquelin, but that would likely be at the expense of Flamini or Wilshere, which is unlikely.

    I am not so worried by this game as I was against Spurs. AW nailed it when he said Boro’ are no longer a surprise. The players will not be complacent, even subconsciously. I think a fully committed Arsenal will take care of a championship side in a similar way we did against Brighton. They may be better than Brighton, but if we pass sharply and keep the ball moving, we have players who can hurt them. Especially if we start with the pacey players on both wings, and don’t confuse things in the middle. As I understand it, they are strong down the wings, but with our counter attacking side, I don’t think they will be able to double up on either side without leaving themselves vulnerable. All we have to do is know when to shut up shop to make it much more comfortable in the last 15.

    Keep the faith …

    p.s. Grammer notes: * I digress here to explain why the ‘English’ spelling seems more appropriate to us when ‘the defence’ is referring to a noun as a single entity, whereas helping out the defensive areas, plural, the American spelling I assume is a reduction of that? Just a thought, but we do accept foreign currency here. Although you could tell your spell checker of the difference HT? 😀
    **Note: My incorrect position of the ‘ is a personal one, even though the ‘Middle’ part should be acknowledged. If the team is often referred to as ‘the Borough, but reduced to Boro’, then the capital B acknowledges a colloquial acceptance of that.
    Well that is my excuse.

  14. VCC says:

    Nice per match seventeenho.

    I would keep Ospina between the sticks today and deffinitely not start Paulista in this one.

    Wenger had a chance to give Paulista a twenty minute run out against Villa at the end, when we had the game won, but chose not to use him. A big risk imo to start him in this one.

    Squeeky bum time.

    What Arsenal will turn up today? Who knows?

  15. VCC says:

    Zippy, on the touchline will be out done on tactics, that’s for sure.

  16. Gerry says:

    Nice to have your full support Vics 😀

    I think you are missing the financial angle i.e The league points are far more important to the Club, regards getting into the CL,attracting players, etc.

    The FA Cup has always been used by AW as a back-ups opportunity, and despite the other results, I only think that he will not go big time changes, But players like Alexis and possibly Santi too, need a break. Big difference between 6 days off, after this, and 10 days from last Tuesday?

    One more goal against Leicester and we would have been much more comfortable. That is what they will be looking for today. Players and manager alike.

    Come on Vics, live the dream …

    p.s. Check the UMF site?

  17. TotalArsenal says:

    With no midweek game and the Sunday big viewing slot at 4, we will see a very strong Arsenal starting eleven. Wenger would love the cup twice in a row and it remains our best chance for silverware, so, in my view, there will be no experimenting with unproven and goal/assist shy players today. It will be treated as if we are playing the Chavs today and the team will fully go for it. Bring it on – UTA! 🙂

  18. TotalArsenal says:

    Zippy on the touch line…. Hahaha I like it Vickers 🙂

    He is failing you badly, but then you have a very rich past for him to live up to! 😉

    Even when at Grove…. 😀

  19. The Cockie Monster says:

    Super stuff 7eventeen !. 🙂
    So I will kill two birds with one stone and praise your post and acknowledge Totals Haiku fever !.

    Gonads Red and White !
    From Seventeen HT to……
    He`s, 17 Silly balls !.

    PS….I have licence to cheat and use “17” as one number and not a syllable word !. 😀

  20. The Cockie Monster says:

    I look up The Arse`.
    and I look up Uranus.
    I`m over the Moon !

  21. The Cockie Monster says:

    It`s FA CUP Day !.
    To celebrate and lets us remember who are the current holders !, I will put a relevant photo up and if deemed to offensive please remove !.
    It is a cracker though and you can see why Arsene is always fiddling with his ZIP !. 😀

  22. TotalArsenal says:

    She can stay 😉

  23. TotalArsenal says:

    Hahaha creative haiku, almost award winning! 😀

  24. The Cockie Monster says:

    Thanks Totes ! .
    That shirt is so tight on her, it`s like it`s painted on !. 😀

  25. The Cockie Monster says:

    Mere mortals have ten !.
    but upon the Isle of White
    Six fingers was born !.

  26. James Bond says:

    ooh la laaaaaaa @ Glics 👿

    nice one @ Me Amigo

    that was a good post and a great reminder as to why we shouldn’t be taking Boro lightly .

    saying that we are not as crap as man city at home, I mean , if we can beat man city 0-2 at home then anyone can, no ? 🙂

    here is my predicted line up

    ————-Sczny——————-(the best keeper in the world ).

    Chambers—–Paulista——Koc——–Gibbs

    ——Flamini——Rosicky—-

    Theo———Ozil——-Welbeck

    ———Giroud—————-

    3-0 = sorted ?

  27. The Cockie Monster says:

    A different take on 50 Shades of Grey !……………………..
    50 Tirades of Szcz/Bond Gay !………………….

    JB : ” Yes !, Wojciech, harder, harder, rub it harder !….that`s it , I can see it coming !.”

    Szcz : ” You`re exhausting me, JB ! “.

    JB : ” Just a few more rubs , Wojciech ! ”

    Szcz : ” Yes ! yes ! yes ! ”

    JB : ” You wanker !….. no wonder you cant get in the 1st team !….that’s the tenth scratch card and all you`ve won us is a tenner ! “

  28. The Cockie Monster says:

    Stev11e contemplating what Arsenal`s best line-up and tactics should be for todays FA Cup 5th round tie !.

  29. steve says:

    The last three games haven’t been up to par, here’s hoping this one comes good;

  30. steve says:

    FLO8, I’ve been wanting to see that inverted winger style played at Arsenal for the longest time mate just like the Roben and Ribery idea at Bayern. wouldn’t really choose Ozil as one of those pair though, if anywhere i would keep him permanently in the middle but we have no left footed striker/winger option atm (probably why Dybala was linked so heavily).

    Cockie, i have no idea what the boss man will put out on the field today, should be interesting either way. I just hope Akers gets a bit more game time than the last 10 mins.

    COYG!!!!!!

  31. James Bond says:

    ahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahah

    you’re bananas @ Glics

    ahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhahaha

  32. James Bond says:

    bradford winning against sunderland – would love to have them in the next round !!!

    Villains won against the foxes .

    bring on Bradford or Liverpool in the next round .

    I mean first let’s beat Boro 😀

  33. jnyc says:

    Very well written post 17. I hadn’t realized that our opponents are in such good form. I have always thought that a team at the top of the championship should be considered at least as dangerous as many premier league teams. The recent record you outline adds to that.
    I’d get gibbs in there simply because nacho has been one of our most valuable players, deserves a rest, and the drop off in quality is not as great as in rb. I really don’t feel secure with chambers at fb. Up front i will trust Arsene to choose. I’d like Alexis to rest for his health, not because i take the opponent lightly.
    Cockie, great pic, my impression was that it seemed painted on, and i fully support her right to dress that way.

  34. James Bond says:

    AW has done it again

    BREAKING: Alexis Sanchez passed fit after suffering knee problem mid-week and starts for Arsenal.

    Arsenal team to face Middlesbrough: Szczesny, Chambers, Gabriel, Koscielny, Gibbs, Flamini, Cazorla, Welbeck, Ozil, Alexis, Giroud

    Subs: Martinez, Mertesacker, Monreal, Rosicky, Walcott, Coquelin, Akpom

  35. James Bond says:

    Did I get the most of the starting 11 bang on ?

    I think so ! think I got 9 .

    who be here for the GDC ?

  36. James Bond says:

    this is an interesting one for me .

    it appears that Welbeck is ahead of Theo in the pecking order ?

    personally , I would like to see both Theo and Welbeck operating on the wings with Ozil in the middle .

    saying that, this not bad either with Alexis and Welbeck on the wings 😉

  37. steve says:

    ive got the lads over for this one JB so i’ll be missing, but i will be frantically reading the craziness at half time 🙂

  38. James Bond says:

    thanks for letting us know @ Steve

    enjoy the game

  39. steve says:

    I would have gone for Walcott and Sanchez on the wings with Akers to take over from Sanchez around the 60 min mark so he can be wrapped up in cotton wool and stored away until next weekend 🙂

    But looks like a pretty formidable line up

    COYG!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  40. retsub1 says:

    Definitely would have had theo ahead of Welbeck and le coq ahead of Flamini and would have made room for Rosicky.

    Just hope the good Gunners turn up today it’s going to be a tough one

  41. 17highburyterrace says:

    Slept in a bit this morning and I wake up to find…I got less than half the line-up right… 😀

    Oh well, I guess it leaves plenty of room for improvement…

    Mostly, I didn’t see BFG (rather than Kos) rested to get Gabby in. Both FBs were wrong, Flams for Le Coq and Welbs for Theo. And, of course, Alexis is just fine and in the starting group. Other than that, I got it spot on… 😀

    We have kick off…

  42. AB says:

    Anyone following? I’m only getting some web commentary. Hard to make much sense of that, beyond we seem to be dominating. But whether we are playing well/aggressively is largely missing

  43. 17highburyterrace says:

    AB, We’re all over them in the first 20 mins with Ozil really dancing out there…The one touch football mixed with early balls in plus the pressing–all at pace–makes us appear quite dominant… All that’s lacking is the end product…

    Gabriel appears quite at home… FBs are really pushing foward. At the moment, Boro seem so under pressure that their counter seems the last thing on their mind…

    Still nil-nil, however…

  44. AB says:

    Thanks HT. Sanchez sounds like he is up for getting on the score sheet – seems to be shooting from everywhere at the moment.

  45. 17highburyterrace says:

    Ooohhh…Giroud shoot from distance but straight at Keeper with Welbs making the inside run…chance (from good pressing…) blown…

  46. 17highburyterrace says:

    GIROUD!!!!

  47. AB says:

    Good start! Lets not do a spuds repeat – so lets get at least another on the scoreboard

  48. 17highburyterrace says:

    Great team goal…Alexis moves it at pace to Santi who spots the run of Gibbs and puts in on a platter for him to find Giroud with the perfect pull-back… Very, very satisfying there…

  49. 17highburyterrace says:

    2 nil GIROUD from Alexis corner….

  50. AB says:

    This is more like it. Kills em off and get the subs on!

  51. 17highburyterrace says:

    Very weird set-up at the corner…Boro pushing up for a high line and completely punished?…

  52. 17highburyterrace says:

    The goals were coming… We’re pressuring them high up the pitch with our guys covering and filling for one another and popping up all over the place… Flamini and the FBs, esp., but all the attackers moving from one position to the other with real style, pace and confidence. Quite the display and now we’ve got the scoreline to match it….

  53. 17highburyterrace says:

    Szcz first use of hands is successful…Tame shot from distance really…

  54. 17highburyterrace says:

    Nice ball control and plenty of menace at the end of the half…Flamini long shot blocked and doesn’t quite fall for Welbs…

    Very satisfying first half (for me, at least…) The spacing and movement finally paid dividends with that first goal and the 2nd caught them sleeping…

    2 nil, as we know is not a safe scoreline but this performance feels very dominant. In the end, it’s “only” a Championship club, but we’ve got them completely off their game. Hard to see how they can change things at the half, but we shall see…

    Breakfast time for me…

  55. James Bond says:

    we need to take off Santiago for Rosicky

    and sub Alexis for Theo

    and maybe bring Akpom for Giroud at the 75th minute mark .

    hoping by the 60th minute it be 3-0 and then he can give the likes of Santiago, Alexis and Giroud a rest .

    I hope we don’t have to use LE COQ at all .

  56. James Bond says:

    we are bossing @ AB

  57. James Bond says:

    just so we are clear –

    I like to see the Trio of Welbeck, Theo and Akpom play together in the 2nd half, even if it’s for the last 10-15 minutes .

    that be an interesting one to watch .

    or maybe am getting into steve mode ? he’s a bad influence that geezer !

  58. James Bond says:

    Also, Gibbs should be always used for our home games and I feel Nacho should be played for the away games .

    this is something that AW needs to think about as I have been banging on the drum about this since the last 18 months or so .

    Gibbs has been a threat down the LW – and Girouuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuud has be sublime .

  59. James Bond says:

    The last eight

    Posted at 16:54
    As it stands, here’s how the FA Cup draw will be looking tomorrow night:
    1 LIVERPOOL
    2 ARSENAL OR MIDDLESBROUGH
    3 ASTON VILLA
    4 WEST BROMWICH ALBION
    5 BRADFORD CITY
    6 BLACKBURN ROVERS
    7 READING
    8 PRESTON NORTH END OR MANCHESTER UNITED

  60. 17highburyterrace says:

    Ozil blocked… I’m sorry, but if you’re not enjoying the performance today you’ve got issues… Alexis, Santi and Messy are just a level above… and Giroud can apply a finishing touch… Gibbs, Chambers and Flamini look well inspired and the competition for places seems a good thing…

    And there’s Gabriel with pure cynicism to break up a Boro counter and get his first yellow…

  61. James Bond says:

    that was a delicious long ball from Paulista for alexis and nearly !

  62. James Bond says:

    who happens not to enjoy the performance @ 17HT ?

    are you talking to me ? 😯

  63. James Bond says:

    just so we are clear – am enjoying the performance so much that I want to shield my star performers as This games in the bag already .

  64. 17highburyterrace says:

    Not talking to you 007, just to the general population of Gooners who will find a way to fail to enjoy this… Most likely starting with, “It’s only Boro…”

    Nice one-two there… Gibbs shot on target but tough angle…

    No subs for me…This being too much fun… 😀

  65. 17highburyterrace says:

    Ooh little Alexis gets his head to Santi’s FK but keeper comes up with a fine save…

  66. James Bond says:

    it’s only BORO who haven’t lost in the last 10 games .

    this is scintilating stuff but yeah, am looking at the bigger picture here (CL) and need our top players like Giroud, Alexis and Santiago to be shielded by AW . that’s all .

  67. 17highburyterrace says:

    No, no, of course, 007…I’m just loving the movement of this group today. Boro keeper and back line have actually made things pretty tough…

    6 days until Palace (away) but then the mid-weeks (CL) start up again…

    Ooooh, 1-2 between Alexis and Ozil… Alexis needs to hit it first time…

    There are your subs….Sicky and Theo on, Alexis, Welbs off…

  68. James Bond says:

    Enter TR and TW

    for Alexis and Welbeck

    me likey likey

    but also bring on Akpom for Giroud @ AW 😀

  69. 17highburyterrace says:

    Gabby gives up a corner for no good reason… But heads it clear himself… Our counter from their corner only fails w/Santi blasting over…

    Game opening up too much, but Gabby makes the key intervention in our box…

  70. 17highburyterrace says:

    Scoreline still = nerves but maybe that’s better than garbage time…

    I don’t mean to bang on too much about it, but the movement and technique in MF has been completely dominant. Final balls and goals could be criticized maybe as 2-nil flatters the opponent.

    Wow… Ozil finds Theo but he shoots directly onto the head of a Boro defender when scoring looked easier…

  71. 17highburyterrace says:

    Here’s your sub, 007…

  72. James Bond says:

    👿

  73. James Bond says:

    theo should have scored there but me likey likey !

  74. 17highburyterrace says:

    Ooooh, Whattaball from Sicky to Theo…Keeper gets a hand to the finish and it’s still 2-nil…

    Why the angry face, 007?

  75. 17highburyterrace says:

    Geez…Boro should’ve ruined the clean sheet there…Post saves…Gabby just an inch short on the defensive header…

  76. James Bond says:

    Sczny well beaten and the Pole comes to the rescue (all the pun intended)

    😀

  77. 17highburyterrace says:

    FT…

  78. James Bond says:

    it’s the evil face not the angry one @ me Amigo

    that was a good match to watch and get our possession game back on track , we did the basics right and reaped the rewards .

    Crystal palace will be a tough game me thinks but one we should win considering we will have Le Coq and JW available from the start .

  79. James Bond says:

    start the engine time,

    been a pleasure as always and you should do the match previews more often as from a very bad memory, whenever you do them, it’s usually Arsenal winning 🙂

    laters people

  80. Gerry says:

    Just As I said, get the quick pass and moves going and it was never going to be a problem.

    Cry P with be a different challenge, but Sanogo was out injured.

    It was always going to be difficult for Boro’ to play as well as they did against Man City on the second time of asking, and they clearly didn’t play with that same freedom. Mind it was a good ten minutes into the game before they strung more than three passes together, such was our dominance. The big thing that they did right was having Ozil with lateral movement high up, and Cazorla freedom to roam on a deeper horizontal. That is the way it works best.

    If TA cannot find 10 positives to come out of it I will be disappointed.

    JB, I don’t somehow see JW starting the next game 20 minutes perhaps?

  81. James Bond says:

    Sanogo wouldn’t have been eligible to play against us anyway (parent club) .

    if, AW can start Alexis after making the whole world believe that Alexis is losing it and needs to be protected(rested) then anything is possible with JW being back in full training for 2 weeks – It wouldn’t surprise me one bit .

    he did the same with Ramsey vs Man City when we all thought he won’t be starting .

  82. jnyc says:

    Great observations as always Gerry. Ozil and Cazorla imperious… We had all the space in the world to play today, but we did play very well also. Really the opposite of a match like spurs away. Sometimes our performance needs to be judged more with the opponents. Much easier than expected.

    Great finishes by Ollie. He is as good as anyone on those types of shots, and those count the same as long shots and scissor kicks.
    Also does things unnoticed. Commentator pointed out where Alexis was opening up into shooting position on his right foot outside the box, Giroud, moved smartly out of his way dragging a defender to open things up for Alexis shot.

    Chambers reminded us why we liked him, but it must be said there wasn’t a single pace threat down that side all game. He’ll make a good cb or dm one day, but in any tough matchup without debuchy I’ll take bellerin at rb every time.

    Flamini useful giving a rest to coquelin. Both he and bellerin deserved it, and can’t be accustomed to all the minutes we’ve been giving them. I’m glad that Arsene had courage to rotate.

  83. TotalArsenal says:

    New Post New Post 🙂

    And possibly last one for a few days, as I will be away (depending on internet access etc).

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