Theo and Nacho for Welbeck and Gibbs: Preview & Predicted Line-Up

Arsenal – Everton  Match Preview

The Show Must Go On 


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Every time Arsenal disappoints a portion of our Gooners souls are crushed.  In drawing AS Monaco in the round of 16 many Gooners believed we finally had a chance to get a bit deeper into the Champions League eliminations.  If we could beat them in a bit of style, draw a team in the quarters who maybe didn’t quite have their feet totally under themselves, well, who knows, anything is possible in football.

Wednesday night may have proved that adage, but not as expected.  Hopeful Gooners didn’t see it coming, but we witnessed a nervous performance and a capitulation which took us aback.  Moderate early dominance led to a realization that our opponent was well organized and difficult to break down.  A lucky (and deflected) strike from distance gave them the away goal and the upper hand in the tie.  There was no initial panic but we made no headway as we played out the first 45.

After halftime there seemed increased desire but still no equalizer.  We pushed and we pushed but maybe we pushed too much.  A simple loss of possession high up the pitch led to missed tackles and chasing on the break.  2-nil.  More chances, many rushed, all squandered, until, finally, substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain got one back.  Those who had stayed in the stadium had a little something to get excited about.  Except they didn’t.  Too eager from the kickoff, the Ox made another dash at goal but left the ball behind.  Again the break was on and Monaco finished it, and most likely our Champions League hopes, in ruthless fashion.

Now, with just three days of rest to find perspective and regroup, Arsenal face always tough Everton in front of our none-too-happy home support.  It will not be an easy match. In fact, we haven’t beaten this club (in the league) in our last 5 attempts, but a reaction is necessary.  Arsenal need a result and a performance, both to maintain their position in the league and to restore a bit of belief amongst the players and the fans.

It could be argued we’re playing Everton at a good time.  They actually come into the match on even less rest due to their Europa League exploits.   At least they will be riding a wave of confidence, having beaten BSC Young Boys (Switzerland) 3-1 and completing a 7-2 aggregate win over two legs.  For winning that they will face two more Thursday matches against Dinamo Kiev, one of which will require travel to war-torn Ukraine.  All of that will be only for a chance to get to the quarter-finals of the Europa League.  Still, given that they’re in the bottom half of the league table, winning that tournament is their best chance of getting into next year’s Champions League.

It’s a far cry from the scare the Toffees gave us a season ago, when losing to them in a desultory 3-0 at Goodison Park in April shunted them into (and us out of) the top four Champions League places.  We were able to win our remaining six matches (including the FA Cup final) while they stumbled, but it still remains an indication of the threat posed by the Blues.  Roberto Martinez’ team may need to prioritize their progress in Europe but they will surely do so fighting for every scrap of confidence they can find.  Nothing would help more than a composed performance and stealing points against wounded Arsenal.

As such, I expect a composed and committed performance from Everton.  Can we match it?  In my opinion, composure is what we lacked in the mid-week loss.  Some might have seen a lack of spirit or passion in that performance, but I saw players, if anything, trying too hard, rushing their chances and losing their discipline, especially when it came to positioning as the match wore on.  Monaco was playing us to absorb our attack and spring on the counter and we obliged by stepping into the trap.  A similar dynamic will likely play out in the Everton match.  As much as we need to make a statement in front of our home fans, it must be done in methodical fashion.  Patience, never the long-suit amongst Gooners, could be a watch-word.

Everton’s most recent league match, at home, against attack-minded Leicester City, showed that they can be broken down.  In that one, the visitors, despite going behind against the run of play, scored two goals in the 2nd half and were unlucky to leave Goodison with only a point, a late own-goal rescuing the draw for the home team.  They may switch things up against us, but their rearguard, featuring American keeper Tim Howard and all British back four (Phil Jagielka, John Stones or Sylvain Distin , Leyton Baines and Seamus Coleman) can be breached.  Martinez typically allows the fullbacks freedom to get forward but then packs the center of the pitch with midfielders known as much for their defending as their attack.  Gareth Barry is the most notorious for his cynicism but James McCarthy and Muhamed Besic, while possessing a bit more trickery and pace, are players who play with commitment and defensive focus.  Ross Barkley, the talented but hot-tempered English youngster can be dangerous, both in getting forward on the dribble and spotting the through-ball.  Up front, the focus is on the big man Romelu Lukaku, but keying on him comes with the peril of ignoring more consistent finishers like Stephen Naismith and Kevin Mirallas.   Despite their struggles this season and their likely desire to focus on Europe, we should not believe that Everton will be pushovers.

How will Arsene Wenger try and get our boys up for this challenge and who will he pick to do the job?  While some Gooners will call for wholesale changes after the Monaco match, I seriously doubt Wenger will answer those calls.  Many are pointing fingers at David Ospina and want Wojcheik Szczesny back in goal.  Others are still having nightmares from the failures of our two tallest (and slowest?) players, Olivier Giroud and Per Mertesacker, and wish to leave them out.  Still others lament over the work ethic (or lack thereof) of Mesut Ozil, or the fact that Santi Cazorla was unable to put a definitive stamp on the CL match.  Sorry, I don’t see any of them being dropped.

Time for the god of speed  to step it up.
Time for the god of speed to step it up.

Instead, I believe our indiscipline was mainly at the full-back positions so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Nacho Monreal in for Kieran Gibbs.  Hector Bellerin may also make way for Calum Chambers, although he may be seen as the better alternative for containing Baines.  With Aaron Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini still unavailable and Jack Wilshere undergoing a minor surgery, Francis Coquelin will have to reprise his role in defensive midfield.  Oxlade-Chamberlain, who came on in his stead on Wednesday, is unlikely to get his spot.  While he got us on the board in midweek, his over-eagerness also was at the heart of Monaco’s late killer.  On the other hand, Theo Walcott, who came on for the ineffectual Giroud, I think, may finally get a start.  If he does, my bet is that it’s at the expense of Welbeck rather than big Ollie, who helps so much in giving our offense its shape and defending at set pieces.

Here then is my best guess at our first 11.

ars v everton Feb 15

(Subs = Szczesny, Gibbs, Gabriel, Chambers, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Rosicky, Welbeck)

As matches following tough CL games go, Everton is not a great opponent to face.  Additionally, while a home tie would seem to favour us, the hostility of the disappointed support will always be lurking and ready to rear its ugly head should we concede early or even look less than fully in control.  We need to start the match well and make early chances count.  Full focus will be expected and required.

Can we get the needed reaction and all three points? 

Will Wenger go with a largely unchanged group or try out some of his more rested players? 

Is this a time to rotate or does he wait for Wednesday at QPR? 

Who would you play and why?

This is a big one.  We have no choice but to get right back on top of the horse which bucked us off.   We simply must.  Go on then…

By 17highburyterrace

99 thoughts on “Theo and Nacho for Welbeck and Gibbs: Preview & Predicted Line-Up

  • nice one @ Me Amigo

    that was a positive and well balanced post – yes, Everton need to get their priorities right and we need to get our confidence restored, which means, we are probably going to avenge the 3-0 loss of last season .

    now is as good as time as any, 3-0 also means it be a rehearsal of what we doing to Monaco the following week 👿

    am very excited by your predicted 11 as I feel it’s very well balanced and we are actually playing with 2 proper wingers for a change , who would both compliment Giroud and Ozil .

    so, am gunner go with your predicted 11 (let’s hope AW does as well) .

    no, we rotate against QPR – this one is a must win considering the Mancs won (ugly again).

  • Superb match preview, 17HT! As always it is well written and reads like a TGV flashing through the Rhone Valley. 🙂

    You are the champion of pitching the preview in the right context and damn right this is a big game. With the Saints losing today and Pool and Citeh meeting up tomorrow as well, a win could steer us away for two main contenders for top four this season – Pool and Saints – OR get us really close to Citeh if they were to draw or lose to Pool.

    It is no time for self-pity and melancholy but for showing our mettle. If these players want to be in a top team then we need to see a RESPONSE tomorrow. I am confident we will see that and your line up could well be the eleven to do it.

    Back later for my responses to your key questions.

    Cheers buddy. 🙂

  • Giroud should be dropped and Welbeck should play up front. Far more mobile with Welbeck as the No.9. Giroud’s recent goals have papered over his invisible performances. Welbeck deserves a run as striker with Theo & Alexis supporting him to create the fastest most mobile front three in the prem. When Giroud plays he’s always back to goal and slows every counter-attack down. It is no coincidence Alexis goals have all but dried up since Giroud’s return. He cannot alternate, can only play down the middle, and can never keep up with a fast attack. Giroud should be PlanB off the bench.

    Gabriel has to come in for Mertesacker. Its time he and Kos became the 1st choice pairing and use the rest of the season as cementing their understanding for next season.

  • disagreed @ DGP

    dropping him now is a terrible idea – we need him to get back into scoring goals, he has scored against Everton the last 3 times we played them – hence in order for him to get his confidence back, he must be thrown back in the firing line

    Welbeck gets a breather for me and Theo gets the nod – Welbeck can play against QPR.

    agreed about Gabriel though, he is a strong lad and can cope well with Lukaku .

  • Well written 17ht am mainly in agreement with you. Theo must start ahead of Welbeck as you suggest, he is much more potent in front of goal. Giroud was a little unlucky against Monaco, most of the chances went to his right leg which he uses to stand on (ok you could argue he should be able to finish with both legs at this level, but he doesn’t)

    I don’t thinl Ospina is doing badly, but I suspect his confidence has taken a hit. Maybe not tomorrow, but I foresee the second coming of Szs fairly soon.

    Everton have always proved tough cookies and I think patience may be the key tomorrow. Would like to see the Ox get a decent run out, he did at least liven things up against Monaco

  • ugh same old players get another reprieve and a chance to show they can play well sometimes, the trouble i have atm is even if they play well against Everton i know for sure it wont be long until another really shite performance is on the cards, inconsistency abounds with this lot.
    Great preview as always HT and i have no doubt you have most probably got the managers thoughts nailed on, i can’t see there being any deviation from your starting XI tbh for the very same justifications you made in the preview.
    I’m firmly in the wholesale changes camp myself though and definitely not as simply just a response from Wednesday night.

    My preferred XI

    ————The OX————Rosicky———–

    My predicted XI – Same as yours mate

  • As TA and JB say 17 – great preview! 🙂 I agree with your assessment of the fullbacks’ role in the game against Monaco. The roster is a tricky one for Wenger to navigate – you don’t want to dent confidence but want to bring in fresh legs, drive, etc. from guys impressing in training. I am confident that we will get the desired performance and the three points against Everton.

    I like your line-up and think it is the most likely one we are going to see tomorrow. It might be best to give Theo a start in place of Welbeck. Sure, Welbeck give greater defensive cover, but Theo’s offensive efficiency is likely to be better. The impact of this might be ask the full backs to hold back a little more. Having Nacho in place of Gibbs does this since it allows per & Kos to lean a bit more towards the right flank knowing that Nacho is not going to be gone too far up.

    I feel that Gabriel and Roz should get a chance to start against QPR. Am curious to see how Bielik is coming along. But don’t anticipate that he will see real action anytime soon (unless an injury crisis strikes or if he is really impressing in training). Similarly think that it would be nice to see Akpom get a slightly longer runout as a sub against Everton (if we are in a comfortable position late) on or QPR.

  • Excellent passages as per usual from The Tahoe Telegraph !. 😀
    Who knows what Arsenal will turn up tomorrow !. Everton are a tough nut to crack and will be full of confidence after being Britain`s stand out performers in mid-week, no doubt Arsene will be jealous.
    We have the players to beat anyone, but I am adamant that we don`t have the coach to execute the right tactics and formations !.
    I would like to see Wenger compliment our skilful players with some knuckleheads !…….I want a “Dirty Dozen” Team………for example…..I like Giroud, but !…………if you were brave enough to attempt eye contact with someone like Diego Costa, he would probably kill you thinking you were about to ask for a bite of his kebab !……..give Giroud eye contact and he will give you a signed perfumed naked photo of himself with his telephone number on the back !.
    It`s got to the stage where no result shocks me anymore !…… whether one we play super football, win or lose ……or we win or lose by being pressed or counter attacked !…..I just don’t know what Arsenal is going to turn up !.

  • Hey thanks fellas… Giroud can’t help it that he’s gorgeous, I think he said in the rainbow laces advert… 😀

    My kid never made it to the ski race as they went around the east side of the lake and there was a bad accident which closed the highway. 😦 My wife and I went up the West Shore and it was snowing enough to make us not unhappy that we wouldn’t be standing out in it…Instead we did a little thrift (charity) store shopping–I got a Chivas de Guadalajara kit for $2 among other items–and had some Mexican food before doing the drive back… Last race of the season and finally we got some snow! F**king Szczesny… 😀

    That’s for 007, of course, as is the following link showing most recent wage bills (from previous discussion… As such, anything better than 4th should be seen as a bonus… Additionally I wouldn’t be surprised if the Sheiks and the Garchs do a little backdoor accounting with the other owners (50 million for David Luiz!?!…) whilst our own Stingy Stan parks a quid (or 100 million…) under his stadium blanket, if not his syrup… Financial Fair Play is right up there with World Cups in Russia and Qatar, I would figure…

    Two things I might’ve added to the preview… 1) The ref is Andre sent-off-the-wrong-player Marriner, who maybe (just maybe…) owes us one. Also, I was wondering, 2) What do people think of Roberto Martinez? If results are the only way to judge a manager I guess he’s not one for the future. Still, I like just about everything that comes out of his mouth and think he’s doing OK considering his best player is a sizable disappointment (Kevin Mirallas, the Belgian Ronaldo, a player who perhaps appreciates the value of a pass less than any other… Or is it the Belgian Drogba, Lukaku, who didn’t exactly make it in South London… We shouldn’t take those guys too lightly, of course, but my hunch is that he’d trade either for Giroud–or Walcott or Welbeck–in a heartbeat…) Anyhow, just, asking… Cheers again…

  • hahaha Cockie, just gotta flip that coin baby! 🙂
    Step right up and play the game…..
    Which Arsenal will turn up this week
    Heads or Tails matey

  • I always thought Martinez was good manager, not afraid to try different tactics and freshen things up, like you say i think quite a few of his players have been under performing this season.
    Same question different manager HT – what do you think of Diego Simeone?

    Shame about the ski race btw but at least you guys were nowhere near that accident

  • Hi All – reading the different lineups and rationales popped a question in my head that I hope you can help with. What is Arsenal’s identity this season? Some time back it was counter-attacking. Then it became possession oriented. This season, we looked to have started with it, then tried a counter-attacking strategy against City and right now seem to be … what exactly?

  • St H, it looks like Wenger is trying to vary our tactics more, depending on who we play and whether away or at home. As I said in the last post, his biggest challenge by far is to get the midfield right and he still hasn’t found the right balance. Injuries to Rambo, Jack and of course Diaby do not help much either. Another challenge is to balance the CBs and get the best out of all our talented attackers.

  • Really good preview 17!

    Definitely think we can get maximum points versus Everton. Whether we do or not will in my view depend on our attitude and discipline defensively and correcting our central midfield imbalance to provide greater protection to our back four. If we do that we have the quality and skill to beat Everton. Fail to address those issues and we could easily see a similar result to the match versus Monaco. With Arsenal regularly playing inverted wingers naturally drawn to the centre, the side needs the fullbacks to push on in attack to create width and horizontally stretch the opposition. I have no dramas with that attacking approach provided our central midfield trio counterbalance it by holding a deeper position and focus on protecting our central defenders in the event of a counterattack. That repeatedly didn’t happen versus Monaco. All three central midfielders were culpable on that front in my view but particularly Ozil. Don’t get me wrong I think Ozil is a sublime player and very much reminds me of Pires. But I don’t think in this Arsenal side, with a lack of physical defensive midfielders or off the ball running attackers, he is suited to playing in central midfield. His clinical finishing ability, dribbling skills and pace make him a great option as one of our inverted wingers and leverages against his lack of tenacity and discipline defensively. Despite his slip up I thought Ox did a good job in the centre of midfield versus Monaco particularly with his general defensive positioning and long range passing. Rosicky’s tenacity defensively makes him another good candidate to get a start in the centre of midfield versus Everton at the expense of Cazorla who I think could do with a rest. Whilst Flamini remains another alternative, i think he lacks the passing range of Ox, Rosicky and Coquelin and Coquelin’s early withdrawal versus Monaco may mean he is sufficiently fresh enough to start versus Everton. I think that midfield trio provides the side with a better balance than one containing both Cazorla and Ozil and I’m hoping that’s what we see versus Everton.

    That said, one thing we all know about Wenger is he is very loyal to his players and in the past has repeatedly given them an opportunity to show a strong response following a defeat. So I wouldn’t be surprised to see the same starting 11 which played versus Monaco resume their positions versus Everton.

    Nonetheless some rotation I think is needed given we are back to playing twice a week again.

    So my predicted starting 11 vs Everton is:

    I think this game might be a good opportunity to give Kos’ achillies a rest as well as give Walcott a run out. Hoping for an assured 2-0 victory for the boys! COYG!!

  • TA, Slow, highly inconsistent team 🙂

    FLO8, love that midfield!! same as mine lol – aint never gonna happen though bud, Cazorla and Ozil all the way as far as Wenger is concerned.

  • Nice one FL 🙂

    No Santi or Ozil? Gutsy but not my cup of tea. 🙂

    Steve, the stats say you is wrong 😉

    Night Night chaps and chapesses.

  • “Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are pliable.”
    ― Mark Twain

    Brazil Vs Germany

    Possession: 47% – 53%

    Shots: 18 – 14

    Shots on target: 8 – 10

    Corners: 7 – 5

    Final Score? 1-7

    Give me all the stats you want TA, i know what i see on the pitch, not what is listed in columns on webpages 🙂

  • F11ngers, I cannot see Simeone having too much fun in England…and he’s definitely a defense first coach. I saw Atleti strangle my local team (CF Granada) when I was over there in 2012 and win 1-nil. Very organized and very strong. That group of Miranda, Godin, JuanFran and Felipe Luis, ahead of Cortois was about as good as they come. By contrast, the forwards Falcao and Diego Costa were very unimpressive…The goal was scored by Arda Turan… On the other hand, he’s a combative personality so he might be good for an occasional touchline bust up with opposing managers or a hair-dryer full of puta-madres in the dressing room… It kinda sounds like our very own AW got a little angry with the boys himself there in midweek…

    FLO8… Ox with Rosicky as his sub did very well up at the Man City match. I think we are missing Ramsey and Arteta although Coquelin has been a real unexpected bonus. What I really think is that Gibbs is actually the better defender when it comes to recovery pace and general athleticism (play-making) but Nacho, after his time at CB, now offers nearly as much, though in a different, less impressive way. Players get around him but at least he slows them down and generally herds them towards Kos… He’s also, IMO, the better offensive player in terms of positioning and helping out the midfielders. I realize this is not a particularly popular view, but (for me) he starts every match at LB.

    Maybe I’m just a lady part, but I seem to favor the players with greater subtlety to their games and the ones who maybe look worse when the team does badly. I feel the same frustration I sense in Ozil when things don’t come off for him and the little penguin walk (and hairstyle) Santi sports only looks cute when he’s smiling and dancing. Not so much when he’s trotting off the pitch with his team trailing… IMO those two, along with Alexis, are our best players…full stop. After that for pure technical ability and sense of positioning I would have to say Arteta and Ramsey. I get far less inspired by the ‘ard nuts with the screams and shouts…though I thought a little Jack (who can do the tight spaces bit) might’ve been a great thing vs Monaco… I can see why people enjoy the running and power Rosicky and Ox can bring but they also need more space to get it done so they wouldn’t make my first 11. You don’t lose much at all with them in the team, but off the bench (and not burdened with too much in the way of defensive duties) is where I’d use them if I was in charge…

    Luckily, I’m not… 😀

  • HT, like you said it always worries me when i see players tear Monreal to pieces like Wilfried Zaha did the other week, like you i think Gibbs is the stronger and quicker player and as you say he would definitely be the better completely if he could get his positional sense sorted. How much of that do you think comes from the player and how much as a directive from the coach though?
    Wenger kept talking about suicidal defending but if he has told both those fullbacks not to bomb on like that and thats exactly what they did then he has lost the dressing room a little there i think in regards to those two at least and Gibbs especially (as he is more experienced) should be sidelined for a good while to learn to bloody listen. imo he will never admit it but i am sure there is direction from the coach to play this way and when it goes completely tits up like it did the other day he doesn’t want to admit it was a total tactical mess lol, just my little conspiracy theory brain working in overdrive lol.

    Its good to see we continue to be complete Polar opposites on team selection as usual lol (apart from Sanchez). I prioritize pace, strength and fitness above all else, technical ability should be at a reasonable level for them to be even playing for Arsenal in the first place and this can be developed more as time goes by, those physical attributes can’t. I just remember what strength, pace and determination we had running through the team when we were quite literally invincible and then cry a little when i see the likes of Giroud stumbling about, Ozil flittering about, Arteta crumbling into dust and BFG slowly turning to stone.

    By the sounds of it someone like Simeone would suit me down to the ground at Arsenal lol

    I promise i’m not out to destroy the beautiful football, in fact i cherish it, i just want to give it a bloody backbone 🙂

    I sometimes think people forget that players like Rosicky and Wilshere can make beautiful passes as well, it used to be what they were known for lol, I tell you what OX’s through balls aint too shabby either. Now it seems the opinion is we can’t make a decisive pass without Ozil in the team and i don’t really know how this popular opinion has come to be.

    Anyway we each have our favorites but guaranteed we both cheer on whoever steps out onto the pitch while the 90 is being played and thats good enough for me 🙂

  • Pity the back drop coming into this game has taken such a high place to make any preview sound more like ‘Once more into the breech …’, than ‘Come On You Gunners’ …
    As usual though HT, you have risen to the challenge very well. Nice one!

    I’m not sure your Wenger 11 is the one he will choose mind. Not every player has such a fragile ego that they cannot accept where they, as individuals, made mistakes and have it pointed out to them. I am more with Steve’s view that the team performance is pretty much down to AW. Bluster as he might at the obvious, but deep down he knows he is not getting the best out of the players collectively. Hence changes today, and at QPR.
    I mention the latter in my OGA mode because it is a tight pitch there, and much better suited to Mertersacker than the Emirates? That will be one change for me. Per will accept he carries the can, as captain for not organising the team better once we got back to 1-2. The more mobile Gabriel should set his claims out for a more permanent spot, although he may have avoid an early card if we are not in for a very nervous time.
    Similar comment applies to Ozil, in being better suited here than QPR. So his demotion will wait.. I am still in Wenger view btw, so any inclusion of Ox over Rosicky is a tough one, but the latter is likely to get the ‘super sub’ role should it happen. Who makes way and where is going to be the problem. The whole balance of our play will rest on this decision to a large extent I feel.
    Straight swap for Cazorla, and play centrally?
    Straight swap for Welbeck and play wide?
    Straight swap for Ozil and pair with Cazorla ahead of the sole DM, Coquelin?
    Or not start at all?
    Because of the complexity of it all, I fear it will be the latter. It will amaze the fans at the ground because they saw what a difference Ox makes? Despite that, I think AW will stick to the previous format just to show that it was not him, but the way they played. Too simplistic I know, but he has an ego too, and this will be lurking in the back of his mind.

    I am not sure on the GK front, but I think Ospina’s quicker distribution may help him keep his place. Szczesny will have Man U to look forward to. Despite your use of stats, JB, I don’t think there is much to choose between then when the back 4 has continual changes?

    Talking of comparison’s yesterday Steve. Gondogbia has been playing first team football for a couple of season’s now, so to throw in Maitland-Niles is a bit rich? Unless your were thinking of him getting more game time now so he can get to that level? I seem to recall it was 3rd party ownership that scuppered any deal two season’s back, so unless there is any change there I don’t see him as a contender? – I miss JM’s comments on this problem, but I think TA upset him over multiple use of card descriptions. – The problem we face is we cannot afford a ‘Moyes’ season while we bed in these youngsters, however great their potential?

    Back to the game. AW will stick with Gibbs for his recovery pace, but with clearer instructions. If Walcott (in contract talks) is given the go ahead he better start producing the goals or assists?
    Welbeck will be the one to make way. More of a case of ‘Can play wide’ rather than him and Alexis being ‘wingers’, eh JB? The link up between Ozil, Giroud and Walcott will be what AW will be looking for.
    Which means only two differences from your line up HT?

    It does not fill me with great confidence either way. I agree, top form Ramsey is a missing link. However, I have yet to see him come back in top form. Somebody will miss out from your bench to accommodate Akpom I feel … Per would be the obvious one, as I would have Monreal there, but it is a bit harsh?

    My team and why? Well to play the above we simply have a repeat of a team who will be crowded out in midfield, have little chance of quick transition, and will require the full eleven to come back and defend. as such, we will tire badly over the last 30 minutes. Fresh legs after 65 minutes will mix the knackered with the too eager, and with one DM, now also suffering from the early pressure, mean will leak two late goals and go down 1-3. Happy?

    Bellerin____ Mertersacker_____Koscielny___Gibbs

    Bench: Szczesny, Monreal, Cazorla, Rosicky, Akpom, Walcott, Welbeck. – Top heavy
    Injury free, card free, use of:
    55 min – Rosicky for Ox
    65 min – Akpom for Giroud
    75 min – Cazorla for Ozil

    Alexis should be okay for the 90 having not been recalled for deep play, collecting or defending.
    Both full backs to get forward and provide width, but with instructions to stay on the half way line when we attack down the other wing.
    Alexis back on the score sheet, with an assist from Giroud – (Not the problem!).
    Akpom to celebrate his first and second goals. Giroud having scored early, sets up our magnificent 4-nil victory.
    Fans give standing ovation ….
    Then I wake up from fantasy world to what will inevitably unfold.

    Plenty of hits later TA, if you are looking for a bright side 😀

  • So highly inconsistent does not go with that, or with our recent excellent run of games. You focus on the negatives which is fine with me, but the stats hold the bigger picture truth.

    Going with what you see is a natural thing to do and it goes a long way, but it also leads to raw subjectivity and unfair favouritism and is not a good basis for informed debate. 😉

  • TA, please don’t big up our league position right before a day of significant fixtures, what are you trying to do jinx it! lol 🙂

    You can argue with me until the cows come home TA but i can i no way give up on judging what i have seen in the last months worth (and more) of games as anything but inconsistent.
    Its got to the point that i (like Cockie) have no fucking clue which Arsenal will turn up today, but by all means keep spouting these lovely stats to me mate, gives me something to read for a while 🙂

  • I blame Wenger for not knowing which Arsenal will turn up !
    I`m adamant that a Mmmmmourinho type manager would have better results with our squad !…..Wenger still thinks he can play a team and let the opposition worry about us !.
    As for our great win at Mansour City, I take that as an anomaly and normal service will be resumed against our usual nemesis`s !.
    An article on the BBC .

    Wenger’s tactical theories are outdated
    “When Arsene Wenger coached his 2003-04 team to an unbeaten season, he experienced something few managers are lucky enough to find in their careers. He put together a team so well connected with one another they rarely even thought about their opponents.

    They only concentrated on themselves, such was the confidence in their blend of power and panache. It set a standard for Wenger. He often repeats his mantra of “we like to play the game we love” but this idealism is not always realistic. In today’s climate, it seems crazy to be so laissez-faire about the opposition.”

  • Glad to see you have taste Stev11e !…..yes, that other thing shall be now known as…………….

  • I don’t even think its a matter off taste Cockie, if you you have eye balls you’re gonna hate that thing.
    Its like the design brief was to capture the essence of splattered puke and express it through the medium of fabric lol

    THE THING!!!!

    🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Top review HT. In my mind I think we may even see fewer changes, with just Nacho for Gibbs perhaps. If Walcott comes in, I can’t see it being with Bellerin behind – those two defending against Mirallas and Baines? No thanks! If Walcott is in, Chambers (or even Gabriel?) might be the safer RB option. Discipline, as you suggest HT, will be critical today – too much urgency and we could be ripe for an early counter-attack. As for dropping Per, do we really want to expose a new CB to Lukaku? No, the ask is for him to stand up properly as our Captain, and keep Lukaku out of it.

  • Energy, pace, pressing, youth and forward drive win out YET again against more experienced superstars as Liverpool boss the game against City and come away with all 3 points.

  • Interesting indeed AB

    where is JB with the usual full team and subs list? 🙂

  • Ospinaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

    wow – well done lad !

  • @steve – anyone can think what they want but Mancini was much better than Pellegrini. Liverpool outplayed them today and Sturridge was on for the last 15 minutes.

    So far, it doesn’t look well. Very tight handbrake in our game and Gabriel nearly with a costly mistake.

  • Starting to assert ourselves. Let’s not get suckered on the break now……

  • Everton lead the league in terms of goals conceded due to defensive errors. Perhaps Welbeck was more appropriate choice against them.

  • I went to the toilet and missed a goal. 😀 Perhaps I should take a good laxative before Monaco.

  • We will need you to have a full dose of lysteria Admir to have a chance…..!

  • that was a good first half performance, Ospina kept us in it and then boom – Giroud

    he should have scored twice in all honesty, failed to direct that free header again but we will let him off this time

    Everton came to defend and side it backwards and sideways – now they will have to open up a bit which will let the likes of Ozil and Alexis come in more

    Santiago has been 5 star so far , as has OX .

    let’s keep it tight and then hit them on the brake,

    I see a 3-0 , already .

  • other than that one moment of being a bit iffy where Ospina came to the rescue twice – he has been pretty decent

    that tackle was immense and also kept us in the game .

    quite like his movement on set movements in the opposition half as well, he’s going to be a big threat there and presence, I reckon .

    good signing by the looks of it and will only get better .

  • its a bit of a 50/50 game so far, we’re playing a 4-1-4-1 as far as i can see, with ox out on the right wing.
    Only Sanchez doing any real pressing atm so there is plenty of time and space for the Everton midfield to play, lets hope we don’t get punished for that in the second half.

    keep that arsehole primed Admir we may need you again soon 🙂

  • I agree JB, i think Gabriel is looking quite good apart from some early cobwebs, i must admit he looked tiny on the screen when he was stood next to Lakaku though lol. good job so far

  • right i’m outta here, another beer and back in front of the telly.

  • more of the same please lads .

    then 60th minute – let’s try to get Theo on for the OX (returning back from injury and we must give him a breather) and let Theo warm up for QPR by scoring a brace .

  • Hey guys…A slow half for me with the early KO, but I’m feeling better after my HT espresso…

    Maybe I’m projecting my own mood onto the match, but it seemed awfully slow going for the first 20-25 and some basic errors happening for both clubs. Gabby’s bouncing ball but O-sweeper cleaning up seemed a wake up…. What a tackle later on Lukaku…

    There’s been some nice playing out of the back but we seem awfully narrow with the FBs as likely to go center as out wide. At a couple of points Gibbs was playing in a CF position. Flooding the area is a strategy or are guys working w/o a script?… I dunno, it all seems strange to me, but I won’t sniff at the goal from the corner. IMO, we’re gonna need improvement to hold the result…

  • May be wrong, but it seemed to me our defence was troubled by the sun in the 1st half, hopefully it will stick around for a while. Arsenal nearly always kick the same way at kick off. Maybe they should reconsider when they have kick off s at this time

  • I’m with you in your assessment HT. We will need to show more unless we are just going to rely on luck

  • I wish we wouldn’t boo players coming on – even though Lennon is a spud; how much more incentive do we need to give them!? Didn’t help us with Berb mid-week, and I hopes doesn’t come back to bite us again today

  • another blinder of a save from Ospina – Man of the match , so far .

  • nasty one for Le Coq – both the french players go in for a frenchie with Le Coq bleeding .

    bad .

    we need Le Coq – come on lad

  • I think from now on every opponent will be scared of going into 50-50 with Giroud. They’ll think: “If he did this to one of his own, what is he going to do to me?”

  • has to be Rosicky , no ? with Ox sitting deep .

    bring Theo to run at them while Ox helps Rosicky = sorted ?

  • ffs – Oooooooooooospina again, phew

    my days , this is not good

    we need a SUB, pronto

  • let us all scratch our heads together , he is wanting to save them all for QPR

    but this game is far from over, we could end up losing points here , argh .

  • Özil is a luxury in this situation. Bring Rosicky, Walcott and Welbeck on for Özil, Alexis and Chambo.

  • finally, Rosicky time (10 minutes too late but better late than never )

    who is going off then ?

  • OoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooSsssssssssssssssssssssssPina – again to the rescue

  • Need the experienced heads to slow stuff down now. Keep the ball safe. Full backs play cautious. Welbs and Gir to hold the ball up.

  • If Coquelin keeps lying on the ground, Marriner might issue a yellow card to Gibbs for time-wasting.

  • Well 3 points are three points, but I thought that was pretty poor to watch. Ospina played a blinder, Coquelin gave his all and a few others put a shift in. Although they didn’t create much Everton pretty much bossed the ball and with a little bit of luck they could have pinched a result.

    Can’t understand why Theo doesn’t get some match time.

  • Not convincing, but I can’t complain at all. Good performances from a few and important start for Gab as our new CB – mixed, but not bad at all showing from him. 3 points and clean sheet. Onwards and upwards. Theo getting reminded of his position during contract talks I suspect. A dangerous game for all concerned mind. As I’ve said before, I won’t be surprised if we sell Theo this summer – I would be very sad however.

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