Jack for Le Coq, Ramsey on Right, Ospina on Bench: WBA Preview & Predicted Line-Up

Arsenal – WBA Match Preview and Thoughts on the League Season

Arsenal host West Bromwich Albion on “Championship Sunday” in an almost meaningless match. Hopefully the weather is agreeable and it’s a nice day out for all involved. If we can rest a couple of key players and build a bit of confidence headed towards the FA Cup final at Wembley in a week’s time, all the better.

We could use it, given that Arsenal have been held scoreless in our last 3 home matches and only have a stress free Sunday by dint of a deflected Theo Walcott cross which found the net late on at Manchester United. If that ball hadn’t gone in we would need to win this match to secure 3rd place in the league and Champions League group stage football without a two-legged qualifier in August. As it is, United would need to win their match against Hull City while we lose ours and also erase a 7 goal margin to beat us on goal difference. In other words, theoretically they could take third, just as theoretically we could buy Christiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi or Kun Aguero to give us that elusive “world class striker” so many Gooners seem to crave. More starkly put–it ain’t gonna happen.

So, barring a calamity of truly epic proportions–we will finish third. Some player rotation might offer signals before the cup final, but mostly it’s a day for the fans and the players to acknowledge their, er, appreciation for one another. Since I won’t be attending the match, here’s my chance to do likewise.

If we win, our points total will be 75, 4 less than a year ago. Nonetheless, in my opinion, this Arsenal team is much improved over a year ago. Recent results (we’ve won 1, lost 1 and drawn 3 of our last 5 matches) are a worry–as well as a primary reason we haven’t exceeded last years points total–but we hit our best form in the 2nd half of the season and look far more settled heading into the summer. We have a contract issue with one player (Theo Walcott) but he’s played a far less important role than the guy we lost last year (Bacary Sagna) who was our starting right back AND our 3rd choice center back. Moreover, despite having lost big chunks of their season to injury, players like Mesut Ozil, Olivier Giroud, Aaron Ramsey and Laurent Koscileny have all grown into more dependable presences within the squad. Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Danny Welbeck (bought at the September 1st deadline) have also suffered injury troubles, but, at times, have shown real glimpses of what they can add to the team.

Additionally, players acquired last summer have contributed massively. Alexis Sanchez, of course, deserves heaps of praise for taking England by storm and, in the Autumn, as others fell by the wayside all around him, taking the club on his shoulders, Atlas-style, and keeping us within shouting distance of the top teams. As others returned to action, his goal scoring dropped off, but his tireless tracking was a real feature in some of our new found ability to limit the opposition and stay in matches we had been blown out of in recent seasons. In the away matches against the other top 4 clubs a year ago we lost 6-3, 5-1 and 6-nil. This season, despite losing at Stamford Bridge 2-nil, we won by a similar scoreline at Manchester City and drew 1-1 (just a week ago) at United. We are no longer a soft touch in those big away matches.

Another player acquired last summer has played a major role. David Ospina, the Colombian #1, has taken over for Wojciech Szczesny as our net-minder. Acquired for just a few million pounds from FC Nice, some are unimpressed by Ospina’s smaller stature and somewhat weak kicking and believe this is an area for improvement through the transfer market. Still, he seems a calming influence and a very decisive keeper, able to come off his line quickly and willing to guess and dive early–often forcing finishers to readjust their 1 v 1 efforts. When it doesn’t come off it can look bad, but when it does, it saves a goal. As much as Ospina has relegated Szczesny to the bench, I don’t think the Pole in goal’s time with us is over. I believe he will play both this weekend and in the cup final. If he passes those tests he could easily be the man between the sticks for the very early start in the season to come. Overall, the competition between the two has done nothing but help.

Younger players are creating the same effect elsewhere. Hector Bellerin, a very fine attacking right back and all-round footballer, has made the injuries to Mathieu Debuchy, the summer signing charged with filling Sagna’s big shoes, almost a non-issue. Callum Chambers, another one bought over the summer, also did good work in that position (and at center back) and gained enough first team experience to step in if we need him. January signing, Gabriel Paulista, another young center back, did very well in his handful of outings to also look ready and able if Laurent Koscielny or (more likely) Per Mertesacker were to appear not quite up to the pace. Most impressively, the presence of Francis Coquelin, back from a pair of loan spells, transformed Arsenal into a team which looks as if it were both willing and able to play in a defend-first style. After all the goals and other happier moments of the season are reviewed and discussed, the most telling image of them all might be our Coq standing tall and yelling at his mates as we absorbed pressure in the season-defining match at Manchester City.

That we needed Coquelin so badly tells a story of its own: mostly that the deeper lying midfielders and some members of our back line are showing their age. Captain Mikel Arteta was another player stopped by injury from making a real contribution and Mathieu Flamini looked better as a late sub to protect scorelines than as a player ready to hold one of these positions. (The less said about the hoped-for recovery of Abou Diaby, the better.) Ultimately, Santi Cazorla, usually seen as a #10 or playmaker type, dropped into a deeper role alongside Coquelin and looked the part. His ball control and ability to stroke the long pass–with either foot–are exactly what the position demands even if he won’t contest too many headers, no matter how high he might gel his faux-hawk. Similarly, another Spaniard, Nacho Monreal, stepped up as a stop-gap at center back, but then also made his preferred left back position into his own, despite the best efforts of Kieran Gibbs to nail down the spot. As much as recent comments about our lack of goal scoring will drive the summer transfer talk, outside candidates for these less glamorous positions will also get plenty of print in the back pages. My hope is that we take care of our business early and give whoever is set to compete for these spots as full a pre-season as possible.

If we can do that and have a bit better luck with injuries I see no reason this squad cannot continue to grow and improve and at least compete for the league title. Through all the difficult moments and the tough criticism rendered by our always demanding supporters, the group seemed determined to stay together and work for one another and manager Arsene Wenger. As much as fans were calling for his head during the darker times–the “thank you” banner in the reverse fixture at West Brom was a real low point–the man and his players seemed to see the bigger picture, which will include securing automatic CL qualification and the cup final. It’s not the limit of our ambitions, of course, but, to me at least, it’s a step in the right direction.

So, back to the match at hand. While some Gooners might want us to wrap our best players in cotton wool (which seems a weird one–aren’t cotton and wool different fabrics?…) I think the majority of the group needs another chance to try and break down a team playing for a nil-nil. Tony Pulis, right up there with Jose Mourniho amongst the greatest of all the bus parking managers, and his boys from the black country should provide a stern test and be able to defend at least as well as that other Birmingham area club we play in the cup final. They’ve also got a fine finisher in Saido Berahino who could trouble us on the break. Chris Brunt is the on-field (and very feisty) face of Pulis’ team and veterans Jonas Olsson and Joleon Lescott, while not the most mobile pair, have worked well with back-up keeper Boaz Myhill–a guy who has almost done enough in place of injured Ben Foster to deserve a call up to the England squad. West Brom stumbled a bit in the early Spring but clearly are finishing the season well.

We may hope that they’ll be satisfied after their 3-nil gazumping of the league champions a week ago but that’s not the sort of attitude which made Pulis the man he is. As much as we might want to rest and rotate a bit or at least send out some of our more athletic types, I think Wenger will want a not very changed group to have another 90 minute effort against another team set up to stifle, while maybe suggesting that our guys remain ever alert to jumping out of the path of WBA’s more gratuitous and agricultural challenges. Injury news seems scant from Wenger this week, so here my guess at the 11 I think might play:

Arse v WBA May 15

Subs: Ospina, Gabriel, Gibbs, Flamini, Coquelin, Rosicky, Walcott

Who do you think will or ought to play? Is there a desire to talk about the season as it wraps up or just to put it into the rear-view and build for the future, i.e., dive into the transfer market or at least that sort of speculation? While I know the full measure of our season hinges heavily on the outcome at Wembley, I also feel our comeback in the league shouldn’t be under-appreciated. Others may feel differently, especially since the league winning streak–8 in a row between the defeat at White Hart Lane and the draw at home to Chelsea–has come to an end, but I think we found a way to play a reasonably reliable brand of winning football. Clearly we can still struggle with teams who have come to thwart our attack but there is a sense–for me, at least–that we’re on the right track. Or maybe not. Eye of the beholder and all that. What do my fellow Gooners think?

Given the high expectations surrounding our club, the end of the league season might come with a sense of relief. Hopefully tomorrow’s match is a good one and we move onto the national stadium and the cup final with a feeling of confidence–not to mention good will or even (dare I say it…) a bit of love and affection between supporters and club.

Go on then…

By 17highburyterrace

84 thoughts on “Jack for Le Coq, Ramsey on Right, Ospina on Bench: WBA Preview & Predicted Line-Up

  • Thanks for the great preview, 17ho. 🙂

    Love the line-up and really hope Jack will start. More tomorrow after the game.

  • I like the subtle callback to Garth Crooks gaffe over James Morrison in your suggestion that the Welsh number 1 deserves an England call up.

  • excellent and thorough preview as usual HT, nice one.

    I have to question whether a lower points total than last year but a better position within the top four and better results against them simply points towards those other teams in the big four having a doggy season rather than any great development on our part and watching Man U, Man City and Liverpool struggle for long periods of the season it seems this question has at least a little merit.

    As for the line up i pretty much disagree with everything about it lol, sorry bud just my personal opinion.

    Our three big hitters in the forward area (Ozil,Sanchez and Cazorla) definitely need protecting for the final, not to mention the later two both looked a little knackered last they played.
    I would replace them in their positions with Wilshere (Ozil), Gnabry (Sanchez) and Ramsey (Cazorla).

    Wilshere nor Santi should EVER be in the position where they are the sole DM of the team, can’t understand what it is about you lot having to play a player absolutely anywhere apart from the very position he wants to play lol

    Ramsey on the wing should have been knocked on the head as soon as it was implemented and failed miserably years ago, enough already of this nonsense. replace him there with Walcott

    Although fit and not looking as tired as the others mentioned in the last game it would be a fucking disaster to loose Coquelin to some freak injury just before the final so protect him also and replace him with either Chambers or Gabriel.

    The back four is fine although i would give Gibbs another run out as a sub for Monreal in case he is called on during the final. I would also think about protecting Kos with either Chambers or Gabriel as well.

    The MVP’s of our team (to me at least) are (atm) Kos, Coq, Santi and Sanchez so if not for any other changes i hope at the very least he protects these guys.

    My preferred XI:

    Walcott——————-Giroud———————-Gnabry (or OX if fit)

    Subs: Ospina, Kos, Monreal, Flamini, Rosicky, Diaby, Akpom
    (Rosicky and Diaby to sub for Wilshere and Ramsey if we are in a comfortable position)

    The boss however thinks exactly like you HT and i have no doubt we will see a plethora of midfielders taking up roles all over the place in a largely unchanged team from the previous weeks but hey i can dream 🙂

  • nice post 17ht
    arsene wont make alot of changes for this game so i agree with your line-up but with ospina in goal.

  • I’m sick and tired of Wenger he constantly makes the wrong decisions with his teams. Ramsey has served his apprenticeship as a winger do why the hell is that idiot Wenger playing his best midfielder out ob the wing.

  • Agree with Panther about Ramsey. Wenger has a history of using player in different positions ie winger playing striker,etc.Sometimes it works but more often it doesn’t work.
    If Arsenal lose to Albion and MU beat Hull by six goals,the gunners could finish 4th.
    I aint sure about this.Can fans enlighten me. Btw,we have read managers who won trophies being sacked.Based on this ,Wenger is lucky to survive but all good things must come to an end.

  • Did you just call Ramsey our best midfielder?
    Coquelin, Cazorla, Ozil and a fit Jack Wilshere are better than Ramsey.

    Today the three players that I would love to see start are Walcott, Wilshere and Gabriel.
    I really want them to be in our starting 11 next year, and highly doubt they will play a starting role in the FA Cup Final.

  • HT. Great preview and post season mini review.
    Whether we win the FA Cup or not, which we all obviously hope we do, I do think we are going in the right direction, notwithstanding the reduced points total which is largely down to our woeful early season form. With a decent summer, we could be onto something, just hope we get business done nice and early. It always annoys me to see other teams wrap up deals even before the season ends (Depay) whilst we wait for last day dominoes to fall in place so a Barca-Madrid-Bayern star suddenly becomes avaliable at a cut price.
    I think there will be enough time after the game and during the summer to talk about the specifics of our summer “dream team/wish list” or whatever fanciful term is appropriate so I went go into that now…
    As for the starting XI: the less said (including by Ramsey himself) about the tried and failed experiment with Ramsey at RW the better; more importantly I think we need to “wrap our players in cotton wool”. Not all of them, but some.
    1. Coquelin should not play. Why? Because we do not have ANY cover in that position. Should Coquelin pick up a minor injury that only rules him out for 10 days today, would you feel secure with Flamini starting at Wembley? Arteta is Arteta and add to that he hasn’t played in forever. We literally do not have cover for Coquelin, I would not risk him. (Also, obvious why people want Kondogbia/Carvalho/Schneiderlin-we can’t be one injury away from starting inadequate players in such an important position. Moreover, like last week, we already know West Brom will come to park, do we really need Le Coq’s defensive nous in this game? I’d say not.
    2. Sanchez and Santi – both have played far too much due to lack of rotation and recent obsession with starting same XI. Honestly feel both need a break to regain their sharpness.
    I agree with HT that if Scez is getting the cup final (regrettable choice IMO) then he should also be given this game to regain his match sharpness.
    My Preferred XI
    Giroud (4-4-1-1)
    Uncertainty over Welbeck’s 2 week injury that’s turned into a 2 month injury means Giroud has to go off early. Same for Ozil and Ramsey. Hopefully all off at the usual 70m.
    I just think if we know a bus is coming there is no reason why we should wait until second half to play Theo.

    Subs: Ospina, Bellerin, Kos, Gibbs, Coquelin, Alexis, Santi, Akpom
    Akpom is back from his loan, Welbeck’s Wenjury is becoming a problem, let’s give Akpom a run, we may need him. Same applies to Gnabry-Ox-Debuchy. If they are ready to get in a few minutes with next Saturday in mind, needs to be done.

  • Hi

    I’m busy as hell, and completely unrelated, aligned with Steve. Mostly… I’d rest by liberal use of subs early or by bringing tired players in late instead of starting. But, none of us are AW so …. 🙂

    Steve, I’m with the improved year. We’ve gelled as we became less injured. The early season was marred by World Cup (for Merts and Ozil and others, tho didn’t affect Alexis who’s Chile side went far) and injury (debuchy for one especially put pressure on us to,adapt – which we did!). Equally, I thin we did well vs the bigger sides, or at least better… Coquelin was a desperate call, but a solid find (“like a new signing” some would say 🙂 ) … We’ve blooded Chambers and Bellerin very well, and Gabriel looks good. Monreal has really stepped up too.

    So, yes, less points, once Chelsea won it we dropped a few more, but higher place. We’re on a right trajectory. Even, IMO, our needs are more clearly defined. Eg a Schneiderlin vs a pure destroyer like Wanyama, and another very solid holding striker. Also, we’ve seen Koz play the Merts role well letting us think about another tough fast centre back rather than a more experienced sweeper type perhaps.

    Just my 2p — jgc

  • HT you are are predictable … in producing wonderful previews 😀

    I am in almost the same boat as Steve here, with regards your team line up, and it worries me that you rarely get less10 out of 11 correct.

    But let me first disagree with the statement that 3rd spot is ‘done and dusted’.
    As often happens on deadline day, news of other results filter through from the fans and it affects the teams on the pitch. So if news that Newcastle have taken an early lead, it will deflate Hull. Man Utd know they need early goals to put pressure on us, and if they go 2 or three goals up in the first half … well a score line of 0-4 is not unrealistic given their attacking potential?
    Put that against us fielding a team similar in style that has repeatedly failed to break down a defensive 11. Add to that a manager who has a record of causing us much misery in the past, but now with a far better team who are playing well …
    and a scoreline here could get close to a 0-2 or a 1-3?
    When that sort of news filters through to both teams in this equation with 20 minutes to go, who is in the better position to capitalise? The team who are dominating a game and need only one more goal to make it interesting, and another to make certain? Or the other, frustrated at the tactics used against them, and an edgy defence who either sit back and hope they survive, but have been known to push forwards in great numbers to get that elusive goal back, only to leave the back door wide open and lose the lot?

    That is why we must not be complacent. And I believe it is complacency that AW will be guilty of, if by fielding a predictable team, such as the one you have laid out, that will inevitably congest the central attacking area to the extent that our players in their box become extra defenders by denying space.

    Whatever else has been talked about after these past three draws, then it is the lack of width. To repeat the pattern is blinkered insanity.

    The alternative does carry a health warning too. If it does not work out, then the changes will be blamed, and the manager has to carry the can. But I believe there is some leeway that does not destroy the unity of the team, and just may open up a way to defeat the PTB teams in the future. Not just here, but at Wembley too.

    So the changes I would make if I were AW 😆

    I think Ospina will stay in goal. For two reasons: One, Fabianski did not get a game prior to the Cup Final last year as I recall (but my memory of anything over 20 minutes ago is not that good). Second, I don’t think AW will want to risk having to say to Szczesney, sorry, you not starting in a weeks time, if he makes the odd error here? He can rectify it at Wembley with a sub, he won’t be able to take back an ‘iffy’ performance today. That is assuming he has promised WS1 the position in ALL our Cup games?

    The central pairing of Per and Kos could be split up, as Gabriel most certainly needs playing time if he is called up at Wembley. If Kos has fully recovered from playing with the after effect of the ‘flu, then it might be Per who gives way. His premature ‘thanking the fans for their support’ may have come about from knowing he will not figure in this game?
    I think Bellerin is safe to play again, as Chambers has more options on the bench than the reverse. Gibbs or Monreal is more difficult to decide. I think Monreal will be first choice at Wembley, and Gibbs pace to get back might prove more useful here.
    In midfield I can see a throw back to the early season, with a Ramsey-Arteta partnership holding the defensive line. Arteta is a wise and experienced player who will not need a run of games to get up to speed. Rosicky showed that in the last game? That takes care of resting Cazorla, but it does leave the need for moving the ball out of defence quickly, which is why I think Wilshere will play a deep lying Number 10.
    Gnabry is a must for Alexis. He played a key role in his latest comeback outing with the Under 21’s and he has that same driving power and pace that we have missed since Ox was injured. Sadly, the latter’s return is unlikely as he has only just returned to full training .. the same reason that is keeping Welbeck and Debuchy out of the team, and all three are merely fighting for a chance of a bench spot next Sunday. Now whether Serge plays on the left or right is one of the plus points, as he can interchange with Walcott, if as expected, he is the other wide choice.
    With such pace out wide I fully expect Giroud to start, and score, given the extra room he will be afforded.
    In a nutshell, my team is not dissimilar to Steve’s for ALL the reasons he put forward about protecting/resting players, but with the very REAL need to do something different against a solid defensive ploy that has been used so successfully against us.

    _____________ Ospina______________
    Bells ______Gabriel ______Kos ____Gibbs
    _____Arteta ____________Ramsey ______
    _____________ Wilshere _______________
    Walcott ________________________ Gnabry
    ______________ Giroud ________________

    Subs: Szcz; Chambers; Monreal; Rosicky (who could start in place of Walcott?); Ozil ; Alexis (who will feature in the second half).

    Not without risk, granted. Bellerin will leave space behind, as will Gibbs, so a lot of pressure on Arteta. If he doesn’t start, then Coquelin will.

    This is only my reasoning. AW may well lean to the HT view ….

  • Thanks 7eventeenho, another classy PM .

    We play the team who are responsible for my only seen defeat at the Emirates, in a match that they were 3-0 up at one stage !…..until Wenger listened to me and went against the grain and substituted Diabolical and Eboue Virus before the 60th minute !…..we lost 3-2 !….so we are capable of losing to this lot and Manshafter winning at Hull, turning around the + goals and us having another CL qualifier ……may be we do it on purpose so Silent Stan can get the extra money from the gate receipts !.
    Swings and roundabouts whether we are better than last season as although we may get 3rd, we are going to have less points than last season and we still have a tough final to boot !.
    I too see it as a move in the right direction, but only because of the signings and this has to be replicated this summer as personally and probably like a few others, I`m fed up of just going in the right direction, I want us to compete for the TITLE !..since I stated blogging in 2011 all we have done is go in the right direction !…enough of this mediocrity !….it`s time to compete !…..this will only happen if Wenger either leaves or he goes out and spends REALLY big money in the departments we are coming up short in !. As much as Total loves and JB + a few dont rate Giroud, there must be something wrong when a talented line up cant score in 3 consecutive home games !…..either it`s the players or the tactics and in that I mean if you are going to play Giroud as the focal point then give him the tools to score….proper wingers !.
    The others will spend big and with the money floating about now…there is no excuse of saying they can buy bigger than us and before you say rubbish, you only have to look at the Chavs selling to buy and City have been wrapped on the knuckles by FFP !……we want more than right direction!…we want to lead that direction !.
    Actually, I blame my Chef mate from the Pier House Hotel for our recent relegation form !……he`s been to the last 3 home games and is going today, if we get another goalless feast and he then managers to get a final ticket !….then I`m quite confident there will be a few BKers lining up behind me wanting to kill the bastard !.

  • Thanks 17ht for another great preview and all the effort you have put into the
    PM’s. It’s Virtually impossible to second guess Wenger on this one. Really hope Theo gets a run out. When he came on against Sunderland he added a new element to the attack. As you say today’s. Game is meaningless, but it will give us an opportunity to practise breaking down the bus.

  • Hey Fellas…Happy end of the season, except that ours doesn’t end for another week! 😀

    Up early this morning so some quick responses…

    TA, thanks for letting me write the previews. On the whole they’ve been fun for me and a chance to get my mind around what our manager is trying to do. The expectation/disappointment cycle surrounding Arsenal (and all football clubs?…) gets me down (obviously) so the previews helped me “stay in the moment,” etc. While I try to stay positive about things there were some obvious bitter disappointments this season and I have worries about our ability to overcome the nerves in pleasing the home fans. The big one was the Monaco match (blowing a 3-goal lead vs Anderlecht was another) but we also only took 2 out of 9 points in our home matches vs the other top 4 clubs which is a worry. Entertainment is one thing but we (somehow) need to develop a more steely mentality when ANYBODY comes to our house…

    WBA Dave…Nicely spotted…Myhill was born here in California so (IMO) the US team might also try and claim him…

    Steve, D-Money, others… I didn’t mean to leave Ramsey on the right, that was my mistake and surely if the attack lines up as suggested (with no changes from midweek) it will be Rambo who (nominally) starts in a 2 with Santi. That said, starting positions are just that. It’s all about movement and stretching defenses. Everybody (including Alexis…) needs to keep moving. Do that and good things will happen… Lots of folks are stumping for Gnabry but that’s one for the future and I will cut off my dick (as they say in Liverpool…) if he plays today or at Wembley. Longer term, that RW spot must be claimed by the Ox or Theo if he can’t find a better deal elsewhere… With Bellerin proficient as he is going forward, RW is another name for another #10 working through the middle…As such, my naming Rambo there (in addition to being a mistake…) means nothing…

    Gerry, was that one done with the voice software? You and others, including Prof Geoff, want liberal rotation today…lineups should be out soon but I think AW has made his bed and now must lie in it. Had we beaten a bus by this time others might have a fun run-out…As it is this (basic) bunch needs to figure it out. Again, I think the issue is Alexis taking up that spot on the left center and standing there–predictability personified. Time wasting (no more Giroud fake injuries please) also hurts. In general we need to score early–which forces the game to open up and makes Theo as a supersub a better option–or the tension gets too strong. If we cannot, better movement is the only answer I see…

    Cockie (others)…The desire for more than steps in the right direction is natural and might be the whole thing in this moment where Football (we call it soccer over here) is meeting up with massive media coverage. For all the excitement the game brings it’s an exercise in frustration. How do we get our boys working their arses off for those 1 or 2 goals per match and not giving up if that’s what we do?!? It’s like a round of golf–except that after you play one hole you have to wait a week to play the next one. I’m thankful that I support a team which tends to play 3+ rounds per season and most of those matches are meaningful. The birdies are rare, the pars are always good and the bogeys and worse happen and must be accepted. After today ManU will have played 38 league matches and something like 4 FA Cup matches and a couple Cap One? And we’re still gonna finish above them despite the obscene money they spent. I dunno, I think the average Gooner needs to walk a mile in the shoes which lose (or further north on the 7 Sisters…) and realize that we’ve got things (relatively) good…

    In terms of buying we’re finally in a spot where we can maybe work the market a bit. I don’t click on all the headlines but it’s amazing that we’re being linked with players like Vidal.even if it only helps lower the terms for Schneiderlin. With our ownership (and their management team…) we’re going to work according to the laws of the marketplace (and UEFA…) so that leaves us at a permanent disadvantage with ALL the clubs owned by more freewheeling billionaires or a cabal of bankers. It’s a war of attrition, however, so, again, at least we’re not trying to attract players to Wet Fart or Shamfield, whilst being desperate to lose enough at this time of year to avoid Thursday football…

    Anyhow, that’s my tuppence… Thanks again for yours… Finally, 007, mi compadre, we need you back… If Szcz gets the start who else will tell us like it is?… 😀

  • Starting eleven:
    Ospina, Bellerin, Gabriel, Mertesacker, Gibbs, Coquelin, Cazorla, Wilshere, Ozil, Alexis, Walcott

    Szczesny, Koscielny, Monreal, Flamini, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Giroud

    No Welbeck (recovering), Diaby (unfit), Arteta & Rosicky (duties as player-coaches).

  • wait, hold on, english people is this match on TV??? and if so where???
    WTF?? i can’t find it anywhere!!

  • Well…NOT SO GOOD… 6/11, I think is a flunking grade… 😀 Ah well… At least there’s no chance for cutting off my manhood…

    Personally, I’m glad to see the rotation and also good to see the Ox on the bench. I guess the contract renewal for Rosicky was timed to prevent too much speculation due to being dropped from the 18… “Player-coaches,” JM?

    I’m not sure how Alexis (and to a lesser extent Santi…) isn’t one of the ones rested–perhaps if we looked too good w/o him, tongues might start wagging?…

    Anyhow, let’s get some goals, have some fun, etc., etc.

    Anybody around for some (final) match day chat? Again, paging 007…

    F11ngers…All 10 matches are on in the US…If your, er, package, is big enough…

  • Last season, Fabianski started the final league match ahead of the cup final… Does that mean Ospina plays at Wembley?…

    If so, and if you’re reading, 007, enjoy the moment… 😀

  • hahaha thanks HT, yep rub it in mate we know all you bastards get every bloody match lol

    not so lucky over here and it looks like i’m going to have to stream the final game of the season – bugger!

  • 17HT,
    Both Arteta & Rosicky are already in training with/assisting in guiding/coaching the 1st team, and should remain with us for at least another season. (bearing any mishaps, in whatever roles that will fit them).

  • Whoa, that’s a bummer, F11ngers, as we say over here… 😀

    Do they at least have the relegation matches on the telly or is it all about saving “the institution of the English Pub?”…

    21st Century and you guys (still) want to build a wall in the Channel…

  • don’t start HT lol, its a fucking nightmare, this country is backwards beyond belief mate. Going to have to sort this shit out before the start of next season me thinks.

  • Cheers JM…

    OK, I shan’t get you started, F11ngers… Personally, I enjoyed watching in the pubs during my time… Mike Ashley just gave an interview! Big day for the Toon… Any preferences between them and Hull?

    By the way… Anybody who comes to the States and needs a place to watch a future match in (South) Lake Tahoe, California–a reasonably popular tourist destination, but maybe more popular in the off-season (Summer)… should get my e-mail from Total and come to my place… The cafe is always open at kick-off… 😀

  • THEO!! 15mins and already on a hat-trick… Hugs the Physio…

  • JACK!!!! Hugs the Physio… Nice Strike…Assist for Bells….

    3-nil… Goal difference could be tough even if WBA score 4… 😀

  • Hey Oz…Twas a belter… Theo and Jack making nobody miss Ollie and Rambo… WBA are playing like a team of zombies…

  • Training session stuff, but Jack hits it too straight…Did well to get it out of his feet…

  • hey 17. sure are. I’m shocked…not like a pulis managed team at all. Playing without the handbrake and it’s party time.

  • Germans almost work one in from the FK…No need for slow motion on that one… 😀

  • Hey Oz…. Which of us is (or both…) gonna do the FA cup Preview?

  • Oh no… Coq face troubles… New nose seems OK after a moment on the floor…

  • jack the lad again. he’s driving through with gusto. THEO hat-trick

  • Hat Trick THEO… Reminds me of vs Toonies at new year 2012… After that he signed da ting…

    Does Santi get an assist for the near whiff on the shot?… 😀

  • Sorry 17 I won’t be able to chip in and help with the preview. Too much going on at the moment unfortunately

  • He can definitely sign the thing. Looks to have improved his movement out of sight. Just needs to bloody stay fit.

  • WBA are playing like a team sitting on yellow cards before a champions league final. Nowhere near us atm

  • No problem…Better to be busy than not, maybe… Your previews are sorely missed, however…

    This WBA team is already on holiday so hard to judge anybody…We’ll have tougher training sessions before the final, I hope… That one has to be planned for 120 mins so both Theo and Jack will feature… Not so sure (any longer) about Szczmoking Szczesny… 😀

  • HT…Gotta pick this up to stay even with Stoke on Goal diff…. 😀

  • balony 17…what previews. Yours have made everyone forget my ramblings.

    True. Good confidence booster though.

  • haha what on earth. 5-0. No wonder why sterling wants out. Abandon ship!!!

  • fucking loving this (as you could probably have guessed lol) Wilshere simply running the show!!!
    So nice to have movement up ahead of the passers with the Theo / Giroud switch
    Right back to the beers 🙂

  • Amarilla para Hector… TP must’ve borrowed a hair dryer from somebody who needs one… Baggies might play a little harder for 10 or 15…

  • Did Theo have a pint at half-time?… Misplayed nice long passes from Santi then Ozil under no real pressure…

    Hull leaving it late and need help from West Ham…

    I might need some help myself in the UMF…

  • There’s your season… Toon stay up, Hull go down… Villa lose at home ahead of the cup final…


    And, by less than the hair on Fellaini’s head, we have a winner in the UMF… 😀

  • Great result !………..Spuds winning at Everton guarantee`s Thursday`s are still Spursdays and Bindippers too !….that`ll guarantee fatigue weekend`s as they play a minimum of 69 games in the EL !…….I love this my friends as you may not realize that I meet quite a few Spuds on my journey`s around these parts and every single one of them did not want Europa League !………I can now walk around with a proud bulge in my trousers on seeing their depressed faces !. hahaha
    Jack and Theo today puts the cats among the pigeons for the final…..what does Arsene do ?. hahaha

  • Evening all, I’ve not seen the match, so I can only talk in audio terms.

    It seems AW did take the opportunity to try something different, just not the one I was expecting.
    When I scrolled down the team, I thought ‘the defence looks sound’, but the alarm bells went off when I saw the ‘unworkable trio’ of Santi, Jack, and Mesut in the same team. However, by having Jack out on the left with freedom to move to the middle, it sort of removes that obstacle of him blocking Ozil’s horizontal movement, as when Jack plays from the middle it is tunnel vision south to north. So this was clever AW. 😀

    Very surprised to see Ox on the bench though. Another hug to the physio’s HT? He looks to be heading for the spot that Gnabry might have got, and pretty much confirmed looking at Serge’s expression as they walked around the pitch on their lap of honour! – They showed that ‘live’ on the ‘ Player btw. I don’t know why you were so surprise it was on the UK telly Steve? It was a full League program all kicking off at 3.0pm … and they never show those games on live TV.

    Anyway, as I am typing this rather than dictating, I will keep it short. The morning post did my shoulder in, so I don’t want aggravate it any further. I will watch the first half at least, tomorrow morning, and see if I can gleam anything regards the game next weekend.


  • Well they managed to show six teams playing at 3PM on sky tv lol, i was just wondering why the fuck we weren’t invited to the party – or tbh why every game wasn’t shown (via red button) since its the last day.

    Just for you Gerry 🙂

    – Newcastle v West Ham – live on Sky Sports 1 from 2pm

    – Hull City v Manchester United, live on Sky Sports 3 from 2.55pm

    – Chelsea v Sunderland – live on Sky 1 and behind the red button on Sky Sports 1 from 2pm

    – Arsenal v West Brom – shitty stream on steves computer lol

  • Errr … Just for you Steve. I should have added, ‘apart from Sky subscription’. You can see the games out side of the 3 o’clock kick off’s free on BT Broadband.

    Just watched the first half, and HT was right. In the first half the Baggies were, how can I put it … like Sunderland, without the tackles.

    I cannot see Villa being that generous with space and time?

    That said, we did move the ball about well, and more importantly, quickly. Players were always available, which makes it a lot easier, and seriously helped by their defending. It does sort of show that we have a Plan B, but I think it might be difficult to introduce late on?

    Opta stats given out on Arseblog show Wilshere did not provide a single opening for his fellow players – ie ‘key passes’. This is a bit hard on him, given he was involved in nearly every build up. Although it say what he is thinking when making a final pass or shot?

    HT is the only one to mention Bellerin’s assist in Wilshere’s goal?

    Just random thoughts on the morning after …

  • BEST BLOGGERS FFP – The Final Table.

    1,- SUPER KICKERS 2014……… – 2116
    2,- CLYDE’S 12+3……………………… -2071
    3,- BODS GOONERS UNITED …..- 1962
    4,- SAY WHAT……………………………. – 1957
    5,- XAVIERS’ FC…………………………. – 1918
    6,- VOODOCHILEALEXIS………….. – 1906
    7,- DOINK CITY………………………….. – 1895
    8,- SHRILL WREAKS…………………. – 1776
    9,- IAMGUNNERWIN………………….. – 1732
    10,-ARRIBAANDALE YEEPA FC…. – 1718
    11,-RETURN OF THE ICEMAN….. – 1543
    12,-LANESRA…………………………….. – 1511
    13,-RETSUB ROVERS………………. – 1338

    It was close at the top, but congratulations to the winner and manager of Super Kickers 2014
    It takes dedication and attention to your squad, week in week out, so thoroughly deserved success.
    You led way for a short while Clyde’s 12+3, but just faded over the final few weeks .. a bit like Spurs really 😀
    A close battle for 3rd and 4th where only a few points made the difference. Well done for persevering Bods Gooners United and Say What’ managers … you know who you are?
    My team, in homage to Jimmy Hendrix, and expectation of Alexis Sanchez, finished in the middle of another close tussle for 5th,6th, and 7th place. Having overtaken Doink City with my first highest score in the league, a feat I repeated last week which got me closer to Xaviers’ FC. Then I took a gamble on this last weekend, taking a massive 16 point deduction for 4 extra subs, which given ended up with a 12 point gap you might think that it was a mistake … but far from it. I included Jack Wilshere, and Loic Remy, who brought in 20 points. What cost me was Arsenal scoring early goal that meant Man U decided not to play any more, so my RVP and Young switch was wasted – err yes, no principles where Fantasy is concerned ha ha.
    Another gap to 8th, 9th, and 10th who were covered by only 58 points, which season long is nothing at all. So top marks for keeping an interest throughout.
    11th spot went to Return of the Iceman all on his own-some. Nothing new there then? Blame global warming.
    Unfortunately Lanesra had a mid season body blow, and Retsub Rovers relied largely on his stating 11 … which I am sure at some point they score more than I did!

    Well that is the round up. I only offered to set it up, not give a week by week account, as Vics does so admirably on the UMF. But I hope you enjoyed the experience?

  • hahahaha perfect Gerry, that just about sums up everything about the guys who support their justifications based on bloody stats lol.
    Wilshere was instrumental in nearly everything good we did and added some much needed tenacity and drive into the team but what a fucking waste of time hahahaha not even a single “key pass” – long live Ozil hahahaha love it.
    +1 to those that actually see whats going on on the pitch and not whats recorded on the stats sheet afterwards 🙂

  • Steve, I don’t think the article was meant to be read that way, as an Ozil bash, seeing as he has now ended up second in the list to Cescy boy in the whole of the PL.
    There was another stat there that suggests that Ospina let a greater %age of headers be scored than Szczezzer? Seemingly, the %age in 12-13 season it was 17%, and 13-14 was 20%. Now they are on a similar amount of games played, Ospina is on 33/%(from memory). Mainly from fewer goals, but WS1 was better, even in the poor early season in this area, despite his 3 to 1 error ratio leading to goals. I only mention this in case JB stirs before the Cup Final … as Benteke plays for Villa, and I hear he is pretty nifty with his head?

  • Evening all, i hope your all ok and everything is tickaty boo.?
    So i have just read that we have all but clinched a deal for Chilean Arturo Vidal 🙂
    Has anyone read this? What are your thoughts
    He is a very talented midfielder no question and he would add a lot to our team, he is another midfielder mind and we do have a lot which defo means a good few will be sold for sure.
    Great result tomw just what the doctor ordered for next weeks cup final.
    I have not read the post yet 17 but i will thanks, i just wanted to see what you guys thought of this gossip from the source who firt reported news that we were going to sign Alexis so it looks very good.

  • Hello, people! 🙂

    It was a great way to end our league campaign. All-in-all, let’s call it a good one. Wilshere grabbed himself a goal-of-the-season accolade again. 😀


    Vidal is a world-class midfielder and my wet dream is to see him in Arsenal shirt.

    Alas, it’s highly unlikely to happen. Reports about him joining us are rubbish. They all have the same origin – calciomercatoweb – which shouldn’t be confused with calciomercato. The fact two Chileans have tweeted about that transfer as well shouldn’t fool you either – if I find another Bosnian to make a similar tweet about Asmir Begović joining Arsenal, would you believe us? Plus, Vidal has said he’d like to stay in Juventus forever.

  • Yes PG, Admir throws in the same dash of realism that these rumours need to be treated with.

    We would like it to happen, for similar reasons as Khediera perhaps? The latter is thought would reunite his team mate, and close friend, Ozil, and so help bring out the best in him. Vidal is an international team mate of Alexis, and we remember how the pair worked their socks off in the Chilean cause?
    However, as these reports say that we have ‘agreed terms’ with X, Y, and Z, is purely a matter of the club evaluating a list of ‘potential’ signings so they know where they stand. So they speak to their agents to find out what they would agree to/ask for, which of course agents gleefully release it as a soon to be announced ‘done deal’. What thatdoes is possibly spur other clubs into making enquiries, then that is released by the same agents as ‘X club is ready to hijack Y club’s deal’.

    … and so it goes on.

    So far we have signed two young French players from the Len’s academy at a bargain price if they develop to their full potential. Big ‘if’ as always, but much more Arsene’s territory. I am guessing there will be a few more along those lines before next season starts.

    The bottom line is, wait until the TW opens and believe it when you read this or that player HAS sign, confirmed on the official website.

  • The Summer Transfer Window will officially open on July 1st ………………….I just have a sneaky feeling that Manshafter Std will buy Memphis Depay !………but as I say, it doesn`t open `til July 1st !. hahaha

  • Hey fellas…Bank Holiday in the rearview here but a short week ahead of our extra match…

    I will take my congrats here on my very (very) squeaky win in the UMF… In the end it was by the width of the red card shown to Fellani up there in Hull…

    LIkewise congrats to Nik in the FFP league. I just couldn’t catch him as he always had me (Clydes’s 12 +3) on the money front, which has to help… Additionally (and maybe F11ngers will enjoy this…) sticking with Ozil as my captain (thinking he might want to bolster his assists and goals to help silence his critics…) was another bad punt… Ah well, I enjoyed both comps a lot…

    Re: transfers, I think both Gerry and Admir speak sense, PG. Unfortunately journalistic integrity has gone the way of the dodo… On the other hand, I’m also sure that we’ve got deals in the works and they will be announced in due time. Personally I’ve (more or less) enjoyed our balance of mid-window (Alexis, Chambers, Debuchy, Gabriel recently, Santi and Giroud earlier) announcements and our little steals at the deadlines (Nacho, Ozil, Wellbeck) over the past couple of years. That one season where we bought the BFG, Arteta and Santos after the 8-2 at OT and losing Cesc and Nasri, wasn’t so fun… We’ve also done some big deals early–Poldolski–but it could be argued that that one didn’t work out so well… Transfers are exciting but they don’t always work out, of course…

    Overall, I think the market forces are coming around in our favor (favour?…), esp. the fact that we’ve already got some pretty good players… but that’s a longer post…

    Anybody got any thoughts about the cup final?… Help me out folks as I gotta write a preview at some point here…

    Otherwise, Happy Tuesday…

  • Hi HT, Yes it was a good fight between you two at the top of the FFP.

    I had a really bad week around one of the FA Cup rounds. I went through my team carefully removing those that we involved in those games, except I left Axexis in. One striker down, and the midfield replacement on the bench was injured 😥

    You really have to be a bit more focussed, as you clearly were in both comps. Well done.

    If you want my pointers towards the Cup team, it goes like this:
    WS1 starts .. if that is what AW has said to him beforehand? Too much a man of his word to go back on it for the sake of little ol’ FA Cup.

    Per back in the back 4 along with Monreal.
    Coquelin and Santi, again.
    Same forward line that beat the Baggies. That is both Ozil and Wilshere moving in behind what is, or could be, a twin strike force of Walcott and Alexis.

    They need to start because Villa will do the niggly fouling early, and if I did read it right, andClattenburg takes charge, he might book one or two early?

    Bench: Ospina; Gabriel; Gibbs; Ramsey; Rosicky, Ox (if he passes his fitness test nearer the time, if not Nab three): Giroud.

    Somebody might sneak in ahead of Rosicky, but off the top of my head I cannot think who …
    it will come to me later, no doubt. Perhaps a sentimental 5 minutes for Diaby?

    Villa are not as bad as they have been in their last two games, but it can be hard to pick up the winning thread again?
    I think we can expect a lot of quick balls up to Benteke, and their pacey runners supporting on the counter. A bit like West Brom did in the second half?

    Let your caffeine soaked molecules work on that for a couple of days ..
    p.s. BT is in detention for a moment … it froze up on me! Try some more tutorial stuff tomorrow.

  • Admir & Gerry,
    Oh ok you are right i should not have taken it as a done deal.
    As they say don’t believe everything you read ay.
    It may have some merit mind. But i will take your dose of reality humbly lol
    I will agree with you to them Manshafter’s will spend a fortune again this summer no doubt , but it will make it all the sweeter if they do and we finish above them which you have just reminded me off. Always nice to finish above the red devils 🙂

    I have to say the more i think about the Vidal so called deal the less sense it makes know you guys have said that, after all i have been shooting done Liverpool fans all week for saying we are going to sign Tevez by saying why would he leave Juva when they have just reached the CL final and are on a crest of a wave. Answer is he won’t as is probably the same with Vidal ness Alexis has really sold it tpo him, which is possible but til it happens il leave it there.
    Gerry ,
    I did not even know we had signed 2 new young player’s. Who are they? I don’t know how

  • Hi PG. I have manage to dig out the link that you may have missed:


    They are the direction we are going to fill the spots, as the current midfield ages? Not to mention improving our Academy squad who had a difficult time this season. Either way, if they live up to their billing they should be ones to follow in the Youth tournaments next season?

    Regards the Vidal story, there is one positive adding strength to the story, albeit another rumour. Juve have been linked (but then who hasn’t?) with signing Khedeira. Replacement or competition for Vidal?
    I still don’t buy it, unless Juve are worried about his previous injuries resurfacing. Which would also question the wisdom in getting Khedeira … and that applies to us too?
    What does put a nail in the coffin of this story is a flippant remark AW said to the press ‘ We could buy somebody like Vidal …’

    Now it is not like AW to announce something like that in the press conference, unless he is playing a double buff, as he is very measured in what he says. He does not let things ‘slip out’. But it might have been what sparked Vidal’s agent into action, particularly if Juve win the CL and he is angling for a better deal?

    As I said yesterday, I think there will be a few more youngsters that will arrive this summer, and with an early start to the season, a chance to assess who might depart. But major signings will have to be fully signed up pre-agreements before the club announces any interest. The name of a striker has emerged today, Montero. Interesting enough player, but the fact that the press has got wind of it this early pretty much kills it stone dead, especially if the leak came from Montero’s side?
    There was also an interesting story about a player I think we were interested/linked to a couple of season’s ago. a Ghanaian who plays for a relegated Italian side. For a whole lot less than MS, he is a ‘value type’ of player that AW likes, and plays anywhere across the midfield. More likely to stay in Italy though, as he has brought his family a house there.
    But these two are the ‘types’ that could surprise this summer. It is not all about big names.
    Personally, I hope we steer clear of African players because the AFCON plays havoc with their form at a vital time in our season. Ya Ya Toure at Man City is a recent example?

    Come July 1st, the mad scramble for headlines will go overboard, and in amongst all the hundreds of links, somebody will no doubt claim to be the ‘I called it first’ guy ?

    I have seen a couple of teams put up for the Cup final, both reverting back to our league side that finished with 3 draws?
    I find this strange, give the result on Sunday. Three reasons why I think he will more or less stick with that side, bar the tweaks I mentioned yesterday, in goal and back 4:

    1,- AW desperately wants to include Jack Wilshere in the side, and the only position that works is the one employed against the Baggies … imo of course.
    2,- It is difficult to leave Ramsey out, given he scored in the final last year. and likewise Giroud
    HOWEVER, which of the two forward lines look more capable of scoring early? Who has been more effective on the right (starting position only, but moving inside?) between Jack and Aaron? And when we move the ball quickly, and have pace up front, who fits the bill better, Theo or Olly?
    3,- Even taking on board that the Baggies were defending poorly in the first half that made us look good, there was that spark about them that had the crowd on there side from the off. So with West Brom playing a similar style to what I expect Villa will play, they now have a formulae that works against a PTB side, and likely to improve with more time together, so there is no reason to break it up.

    I still have a sneaky feeling that Gnabry will get a last minute call up to replace the Ox. Sad as it would be for the Ox, I do recall bad luck struck twice with Theo and the World Cup. I see a similar thing happening here. Long term it may not do him any harm to fully recover, rather than rushing back and risking mucking up any chance of a good pre-season if kops a bad injury now? And if he was nailed on for a position on the bench, the Gnabs is the logical alternative? Plus the fact that Villa have some ‘solid, hard tackling’ defenders, to put it kindly, it is quite possible that any one of that front four I see playing, from Alexis down, coming off early with an injury, and the Ox/Gnab replacement is the logical one to go for, if you are going to keep that quick, free flowing football going, rather than the more static (centrally) Giroud?

    More food for thought HT, not least if you were considering adding to your family numbers?
    : D
    I know, another mini post, but somebody has to?

  • Gerry,
    Thanks for the link i will have a read after this.
    Some great points you made and i agree with all except maybe Gnabry which i also like the only thing is i dont have a clue what form he is in.
    AW defo has a tough but nice headache for the final. It really is like you said for me Theo looks really good and being so fresh and full of needed confidence i think i would go for him Giroud coming of the bench if needed. Could he play the 2 ? He could he played 2 last season but i doubt it , it could really be good idea as it would really but Villa on the back foot and us very dangerous.
    On Jack i think you are right it will be hard to play both Jack and Ramsey from the start. Though Jack did very well at the weekend for me it has to be Ramsey, i think he is just that little bit better then him at the moment.
    Interesting about what Wenger said about Vidal he must be taking a good look at him to say that ay.
    That is the first i heard about the African player too, i must say that ACON is a right pain for club football it used to really ruin of team performance to when we had a few.
    I am going to check out your link and Wenger press film. Thanks mate

  • What team would you put out for the final Gerry?
    I will have a think a put mine together after.

  • The question i am starting ask a lot is will he choose Szcs or Ospina? He has played Szcs for the cup as he did Fabi. I think he will go Szsz but for me it should be the best in form keeper picked.
    That is Wenger’s choose i hope makes the right 1.
    I will pick my team based on who i have seen playing lately and who is in form or can get the better of the Villa team.
    If Szcz has stopped making bad desisions i will let him play the final
    but that is the one position is a lottery for us to pick, but Szsz sat oput the final last year so i think this is his time . Dont mess it up if your reading stay close to your goal and trust your shot stopping over bad chooses !! lol

    ……………………………………..Le Coq

    At first i missed out Cazorla which coursed me a headache.
    So i took out Giroud and took Walcott of the right wing to the middle and moving Ramsey from theCazorla spot in the middle to out right.
    Giroud goals have been few of late and with Walcott so fresh i would like him to start and Giroud to come on if needed

    Or i am asking myself if? Do we need 2 DM’s, maybe not for Villa if so it could be changed.
    But that team is full of goals. 🙂

  • Really looking forward to the final now.
    Even more so now i am fully aware of the history side of it for club and Wenger.
    Be nice for Wenger to remind Jose of that record if he wins.
    Also to pull and bigger gap between him and Fergie would just show how impressive Wenger has been in the FA cup.

  • Just a quick one today.
    PG- a few points on WS1, and my preference:
    The stat I quoted from the Arseblog earlier on this post was about us leaking more headed goals by Ospina than WS. It makes some logical sense when you look at Osina trying to get over players to punch the ball? I think Villa will try and use set pieces as one of their main ways to beat us. I also think WS has had plenty of time to study Ospina. He will know what he is good at and will learn fromit.
    The other thing I noted on the ‘Player on Player’ videos they did, it is clear that Per has a lot of time for Szczezzer. In fact, going through the series of these vids, no one seemed to mention Ospina, so I hope he has got some mates in there, otherwise it looks terribly cliquey? I note from the training photos that Szczezzer still looks very happy and confident, so nobody has told him (yet) that he is not playing?

    As for Gnabry, it is an extreme outside chance he will get on the bench, I admit. Only Ox pulling up short in training really. However, he has been training with the first team for a while now, and has had 3 run outs with the Under 21’s recently. The last, just over a week ago, where he score one, and had two assists in their 4-1 win, and was quoted as being a big threat throughout.
    It may have been that that has got him selected for the German Under 20’s? Anyway going back to when he did play for the first team, he did look the part in some games. He is now older and very keen to show is ready to fulfil the promise of being a top player.
    But he will only get the chance if Ox doesn’t.

    On your team, Debuchy is back in training, but short of match sharpness, but he again might make the bench. Flamini is one that I missed out yesterday. Personally, I think the bench needs to be slightly top heavy. By that I mean, of the 6 outfield players, 3 should offer something up front, one (Ramsey on my bench) a bit of both, and two defenders. One of who could be Gabriel, who could play CB, DM , and LB , and Le Coq could cover RB. While Gibbs would be cover for Monreal, the latter could move to do CB, or LB, so if needed push Gibbs forwards.
    Again on my bench, Ramsey can be defensive midfield support as well as an attacking mid. Rosicky if we are in need of a spark going forward from midfield. Ox for real aggressive threat going forward, and Giroud to change tactics, and have a bit more space against a tiring defence.
    Who gets on will be AW’s choice, I just hope he does not leave his reaction until too late.

  • Ah ha! I see everybody is awaiting the 17-ooo?

    Well just scanning the other blogeroos, I see the mood has switch a little in favour of Walcott starting. However, many are looking to compromise and have him at RW, rather than replace Giroud. Indeed it may well be the way AW sees it too? The reason being he knows Villa will try and funnel our attack into the middle where they will pack the box and hope for a quick turnover.

    That is indeed the danger of the side I suggested, having Ozil and Wilshere both given licence to move inside. Indeed, Villa will not need to do too much ushering, they will go there of their own accord. So why is it a good choice?

    Well it needs several other things in play to make it work against a more determined defence than the Baggies put up. But to be fair to them, it was only one player, Olsson, who panicked at the sight of Theo in the box, and left his team mates to pick up the pieces with his poor decision making. It is noted that when Pulis pulled that player off at half time we did not score again. But then, we did not have to did we?

    The first thing that we need to do when we have possession, and I think we will get a lot of it in the first half, as I expect them to drop back early on. So we should have little trouble in getting into their half, similar to the last game. We then need both our backs just on the half way line ready to provide width, but also ready to hold up any counter that may get launched.

    So with our backs out wide, that is two players that Villa cannot deploy in the crowded box. If Jack and Mesut mix it up a bit by dropping in behind the covering back a few times, it should mean that yet another will have to leave their station? This is where Theo and Alexis will use their pace and movement to get in those gaps and hope that the right pass can me made to provide an opening? It is all about off-ball movement. Also why it will not work with Giroud in these circumstances. All to easy to sling a quick cross in to Giroud to head. A tactic that will fail because it is predictable, and he will be double marked.

    Villa will be keyed up to the idea that if they can reclaim possession from within their box, they will either clear it up-field to Benteke, or wide to whoever is making the run down the wing. That will be our weakness. The middle three of Per, Kos, And Coquelin will have to be ready to move to the flanks quickly, as well as Alexis, Wilshere And Cazorla to get back quickly too. However, we will only be able to to that at top speed in the first half. Without doubt, Villa will come out in the second half and give it a real blast. If they have succeeded in keeping the score down to 0-0, or down by the odd one, then AW will have to be ready to make early changes.

    I am hoping that we will have similar good fortune with the line up suggested, and we will get a good lead by half time. I think nerves might come into play as far as Villa are concerned. It is one thing telling themselves they believe they can win, but another to put it into practice on such a big occasion? That is why the first half will be key. But bringing on Ramsey even as early as half time, well shortly after, to relieve anyone up front who is struggling from the battering they may have taken, and I include Alexis in this, and make it his priority to help out the defence. Even at 3-0 Villa will still think they are in with a shout and we have to be prepared for them to give everything they have.

    We also need to be prepared for the possibility that we may not win …

  • Oh, just a little postscript to the above, which I have been reminded of listening to the Arsecast.

    If you play Giroud, with Walcott wide …….then what happens to Wilshere?

    The big reason I like the idea of repeating the formulae of the last game, is because it involves keeping our three best creative midfield players involved, at the expense of the 4th, Ramsey. More importantly, it was shown that those 3 could operate without interfering the with the other two’s best games … obligatory ‘imo’.

    It is my view, repeated many times, that Wilshere, if he starts deep then he restricts Ozil’s movement. Not to mention that you lose Cazorla? The alternative is that you drop Ozil?
    Great idea if you really want to pee’ off one of our best players just before the TW?
    Not going to happen.

    AW has a good reason to leave out Giroud, who is on his longest goal scoring drought. But there are arguments against Walcott too. Can he that good two games in a row, for example?

    My reasoning is that if we want to start quickly, then we start with unpredictable PACE.
    If we want to start securely, we start with Giroud, as much for his usefulness in defence.

    Simples ….

  • Gerry,
    On Szcz again, i think he deserves to start this 1 he is still a top keeper imo, just the rash chooses he makes that has let him down in the past. I am with you on the belif and hope that he has studied Ospina on this aspect especially if so he will be a much better keeper for it, surely he must have ..? lol i am sure he has jokes apart.. Interesting point ypu made about headed goals which i did not know, he also is much taller of course which is very useful. If he looks shakey then he will be subbed simple.
    So imo the problems to keep aware of will be Bentke , Grelish and a some what more in form Cleaverly and maybe Gabby if he is involved if so it would make a lot of sense to play Hector for his pace.
    Do we go for 2 DM’s or just 1 freeing up a more creative midfielder or the smart money would probably play Cazorla or Jack or Rambo who can do both , we are truely blessed with midfielder’s.
    I am getting more excited now, it will be a good Saturday , that is if the result goes our way.

    On the Theo up front one, i am happy for either to start really, though i want Theo to start i think as you said if he is not up top then he really should have the right wing before anyone else imo. Even more so the way he smashed in the first goal last match from a tight angle from the right, surely he is the man for there?

  • Who is doing the post match for the FA cup final? Surely Captain Total Arsenal will be readying one of his fine articles?

  • I more thing i am wondering if Arteta will feature at all? Very hard to not play Le Coq of course but he is our skipper he is a very good player has been back fit for a while and has not played at all.
    I would really like him to make some sort of apperance even if just of the bench for a short while.
    He is a player i really respect. sadly i wonder if he will be with us next season i think he has 1 more in him with us but a limited role , he is possibly 1 of the most unlucky players of this era never to have played for Spain.

  • I have just had a thought , i have not given a PG tip for a while so here is 1.
    If your like me and you bet small and like a big odd’s..?
    Go for Laurent Kosielny to score at some point in 90 mins, i have just checked on betfair and he is 40/1. Now we all know he scores very important goals for Arsenal and he normally scores 4 a season he is short of that.
    So my first PG tip is Laurent Kosielny to score and i will give you my score prediction soon 😉

  • correction for above ^
    Sorry the 40/1 was for Kosielny to score first the odds for him to score in 90 mins is just 10/1
    Not very good really but i have a sneaky feeling he will score.

  • Hi fellas… Quick note here to say I’m working on the preview. Overnight I seem to have lost a part of it, however, so a bit of an extra hassle. I’ll mail something to TA shortly, however… Cheers…

  • Amazing since i said Kos to score 10 mins ago on the score first he has gone from 40/1 to 32/1 i have backed him to score first for £2

  • 17inoo,
    I also love your pre-match and was going to say so earlier.
    I am looking forward to it, sorry to hear about you losing some .

  • Thanks PG… All done with it now… TA you’ve got mail… 😀

  • Yes PG, it is getting that ‘ Can’t wait for it to start’ feeling about it. So much riding on it for both clubs, so it ain’t going to be easy.
    I hope AW saw Sherwood’s comment that they would play on ‘Arsenal’s predictability’. The very thing to get him to play the team I suggested?
    I think it is difficult to weigh up what Arsene is saying about it being a ‘squad effort’. Is he saying it for the people who are being left out completely should be equally praised, or perhaps to those who have contributed along the previous rounds, are well thought of, even if they only make the bench?
    One name springs to mind might be Monreal? Again, after listening to the discussion on Arseblog’s Arsecast reminded me that Gibbs missed out last year, so he may just get a start this time. Plus, his pace is useful against any counter attack threat.

    I have to say the second half will worry me if it follows the West Brom pattern?

    HT, I have not tried to be a one man lobbying group trying to influence your thinking. Each morning I would wake up and think of things that I missed out when you asked for some tips.

    Talking of tips. PG I think trying to pick the first goal scorer is not worth throwing even a couple of quid at. A 0-0 draw and the bookies clean up. Then count how many players ahead of Kos whocould score … from BOTH SiDES, and then just add their odds together, I think you’ll find it will add up to more than 40/1 …. and that’s not taking into account that they are stingy with their odd in the first place ….. Get the picture?

    If anything, if you think he might score in 90, the stingy 10/1 was probably a better bet, but only for the same two quid!

    Oh yes HT, if you did not read the Untold blog I gave the link for Steve, it is a very good counter to the ‘I don’t get Ozil’ thing.

    I leave the evening discussion to you all. I am cutting down on my coffee as I am trying to get a more relaxed sleep.
    One more thing, I was pleased it was the Coventry Evening Telegraph that were first to announce Chuba Akpom saved England’s blushes in the Under 20’s tournament. Down to 10 men, losing 3-2, and last throw of the dice, so ‘Titi’ scored with only 3 minutes to go.
    Of course the local link was the the England team are managed by ex Coventry managed Aidy Boothroyd, and Chuba was on loan there.

    Of course there is another reminder there … a Midlands team came down to play a London club, who were hot favourites to win, in the FA Cup … but they lost 3-2!
    I was there 😀

    Until tomorrow then …

  • Hello, people! 🙂

    Just one thing: if you don’t recall, I’ve mentioned the absence of Wojciech Szczesny’s reaction after his father had gone down The Psycho Road and insulted Mertesacker.

    Today Chez reacted. I guess he reads Bergkampesque, knows who wish him well and accepts advices from wise men.

    You’re welcome, Chez. It was a brave thing to do.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s