Arsenal-Leicester City. Match Preview, Predicted Line-up. Giroud, Gabriel, Coquelin and Ox to Start. Title Hopes Hinge on Home Victory.

Time to look in the Mirror and see what we’re made of!!!

Hey, Sorry, I couldn’t find any photos of Gabriel w/o his shirt on… 😀

Sometimes–even at Arsenal–it’s actually the football and what happens on the pitch that tells the whole story.

This Sunday, in a fixture which has been moved from Saturday at 3 to Sunday at noon, inspiring all sorts of protests and ire, Arsenal must defeat surprise league leaders Leicester City if they want a legitimate shot at the league title.

It all comes down to this one, and, if Arsenal, like Manchester City a week ago, or Tottenham a month back, lose to the Foxes in front of their home support, they will find themselves eight points behind.  A win cuts the gap to two while a draw would keep it at five.  After the match there will still be twelve games to go and, mathematically at least, anything could happen (hell, even Aston Villa are still in it by that reckoning…) but, if Leicester complete their sweep of the other Top 4 clubs–on their home grounds–or even just manage to stay undefeated in those games with a draw, they would appear deserving champions.  Arsenal supporters, never full of belief to begin with, would have even less if we cannot beat them.

Concepts like “Deserving Champions,” and “Belief,” of course, are questions of perception.  At bigger clubs, expectations are higher and anything less than guaranteed success irks.  Managerial changes at defending champions Chelsea (not to mention Liverpool), the impending summer switch at Manchester City and the increasingly unsustainable situation at Manchester United all speak to such demands.  Given all that turmoil elsewhere, the narrative goes, this should be Arsenal’s season.

Yes, Arsenal have had injuries but manager Arsene Wenger also chose not to buy any outfield players in the summer and bought only one–Mohammed Elneny, from well off the radar–in January.  Elneny has yet to feature in a league match, so this one seems an unlikely debut.  Gooners who have wanted Wenger gone for a decade could be licking their chops.  News that we may (finally) see the long term injured (Danny Welbeck, Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla) returning to action will not mollify that section of the support if we fail to close the gap on Leicester.

That it all hangs on getting a result against a club which has only been in the league for two seasons–barely staving off relegation last spring–makes the match even more of a crucible.  Sure, it could be seen as an argument that spending money isn’t what makes a champion, but try telling that to an angry supporter if Arsenal, just as they did at Liverpool and Stoke, or at home vs Chelsea and Southampton, ALL in just the last month, fail to take the full points.  Instead, of course, they will point the finger at the manager.

Talk about Pressure…

Back in the day, as Chelsea were just beginning to spend the riches of new owner Roman Abramovich, Wenger mostly had his way with Claudio Ranieri, now at the helm with Leicester.  One big one, however, stands out.  Arsenal’s Invincible team, cruising their way to that historical undefeated league campaign, met Ranieri’s Chelsea in the quarterfinals of the Champions League and lost.  Like this year–our proverbial best shot at the title (before the huge money clubs revamp and retool)–2004 was probably Arsenal’s best chance to win the one trophy which has eluded Wenger and the club.  Ranieri stopped him and he stands in the way again.

Make no mistake: despite all the humble proclamations about just getting to 40 points, Ranieri has this Leicester team believing they can win the league.  It’s not rocket science: they dare the more expensively assembled teams to try to break them down, knowing they can pounce on the counter-attack and, more often than not, they have made them pay.

It all starts with Jamie Vardy and Riyadh Mahrez, the two players in everybody’s fantasy football squad, but don’t forget about hardworking and highly skilled Shinji Okazaki.  Vardy is the late bloomer, a guy from Sheffield who has had disciplinary problems (including, ironically, recent troubles for using a slur toward a person of Japanese descent) and had never played top level football before coming up with Leicester.  He’s already in the PL record books with his goals in eleven consecutive matches.  24 year-old Mahrez, the left footed Algerian who starts on the right, is a lean, live-wire player who, like Vardy, seems to do everything at full pace.  Okazaki, acquired from FB Mainz over the summer, scored 29 goals in two seasons for the Bundesliga club.  Arsenal defenders who forget about him to focus on Vardy and Mahrez do so at their own peril.  Rainieri can also employ the bigger figure of Argentine Leanardo Ulloa.  Bringing him on later in matches, with defenders tired by the pace and trickery of the smaller attackers, seems Rainieri’s usual plan.

The mobility of the front three is critical in pressing opponents into errors which are pounced upon by midfielders Danny Drinkwater, Marc Albrighton and N’Golo Kante who along with fullbacks Danny Simpson and Christian Fuchs can move the ball forward explosively.  Further back, the imposing figures of Wes Morgan, Robert Huth (and goalie Kaspar Schmeichel) have conceded 27 goals, the worst total of any team in the top 5.  They make up for it by getting some at set pieces the other direction, as Huth did twice a week ago at Manchester City; Leicester’s +20 goal difference is impressive.

Arsenal, in fact, wouldn’t mind chipping away at that stat as well as the points total that separates the two clubs.  Goals have been hard to come by lately, so channeling the experience of the reverse fixture where we scored our season high (five) would be very welcome.  In that one, after Vardy put the Foxes ahead–and shot one off the crossbar–Arsenal stormed back on the strength of a Theo Walcott opener and a hat trick from Alexis Sanchez.  Vardy did get another in the latter stages to make it 4-2, but Olivier Giroud, on for Walcott, also scored in added time.

Walcott or Giroud (or both) up top is just one of several choices for Wenger this time around.  My hunch is that the big Frenchman gets the call as he has in recent matches.  Both have been struggling for goals–Theo hasn’t scored in the calendar year and Giroud only did so in the match up at Anfield.  Similarly, Alexis has yet to notch a league goal since returning from injury, but maybe he’s got something planned.  The timing of his agent’s statements in the press are interesting. He appears to be demanding both a bigger salary and shows of ambition from the club ahead of contract negotiations.  Balls in the back of the net would indicate he’s ready to do his part.

Then there’s the question of who plays on the right side of attack and at the rear of our midfield.  When we traveled to Leicester we had Cazorla and Francis Coquelin (behind Mesut Ozil) in midfield with Aaron Ramsey over on the right.  Coquelin is back from injury but has yet to start a league match.   Will Wenger start him or stay with Mathieu Flamini, who made an ill-advised, studs-up challenge early in the match a week ago at Bournemouth and might have been sent off?  My hunch is that Le Coq starts alongside Rambo while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain goes on the right.  The Ox got a surprise run out and even more surprising goal (his first ever away goal for the club) in that match.  That positive experience plus his rugby player physique, I think, makes him the most logical choice here, leaving Joel Campbell (not to mention Theo) as bench options should we need goals late on.

Finally, there’s the back line.  Nobody enjoys the sight of Per Mertesacker trailing runners on the counterattack and the Big Friendly German hasn’t played since his sending off vs Chelsea.  Do we need his organizational skills in this one or does Gabriel Paulista get the start?  I’m stumping for the latter, as both of Vardy’s goals from the earlier match come with images of helpless Per watching them go in and, I figure, Wenger would have played Mertesacker by now if he intended to use him in this one.  Thus, the predicted starting 11 looks like this:

Subs: Ospina, Mertesacker, Gibbs, Flamini, Elneny, Campbell, Walcott

There are other ideas being bandied about: start both Coquelin and Elneny (or Flamini) centrally, while putting Rambo on the right to try to draw Leicester forward and play more on the counter ourselves.  Or we put all our cards on the table by using Theo and Giroud from the start and go for the blitz, etc., etc.

This is such a big match, however, that I wouldn’t expect too many surprises from Wenger (nor Ranieri) beyond the choice of youth (Coquelin and Gabriel) in place of experience (Flamini and Mertesacker).  Even those changes might be too radical for our manager.

We shall see, and, obviously, these are just one Gooner’s thoughts.  Please share your own.

No matter who Wenger puts out, this one is big–given both the league table and the expectations at our club.  Very, very big.  Even if we win it there will be further mountains to climb but win it we must.

Go on then…

by 17highburyterrace

 

 

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51 Responses to Arsenal-Leicester City. Match Preview, Predicted Line-up. Giroud, Gabriel, Coquelin and Ox to Start. Title Hopes Hinge on Home Victory.

  1. Pony Eye says:

    HT, you’ve done it again. As always very informative.

    I gained liberation just a few moments ago. Prior to that my thinking was paralyzed by the morbid fear of Mahrez’s mesmerism and Vardy’s athleticism and pace. I was in turmoil thinking only reactively to Leicester. All that is now thrown overboard, and I now see that we can spank them, simply by just being ourselves.

    Come to think of it, in the reverse fixture, we had 27 against their 16 attempts at goal, 12 against their 7 on target. Yet we played that match with ‘slow’ Per, ‘legs gone’ Arteta paired by diminutive Santi as our shield for the back four.

    No! We have to think proactively, focus on our strength, get on the field, and go toe to toe with them. After all we also got the mesmerism of Alexis, the power of Giroud, the pace of Walcot/Ox, the intelligence of Ozil, the rock of Gibraltar of le Coq, the impeccable timing of Kosh, the calming ( all parts oiled) influence of Per, the how-do-we-beat-him enigma of Cech ……. and on and on. Why should I give a damn about those condemned to giving a hell of a damn about us.

    I will choose my team with tosses of the coin;

    ——————–Cech——————–
    Bel———-Per——–Kos————Nacho
    —————-Coq———Ram————
    Camp————–Ozil——————Alexis
    ———————Giroud———————-

    ” A faint heart never won a fair lady”. COYG!

  2. njk84sg says:

    17ht,

    I kind of like the way u put out your lineup, as we are playing against a team which is similar to our opponents last week, but far more lethal in the final third.

    The only change i can see in that lineup is Le Coq in place of Flams, and it seems a good change.

    We were not stable defensively last week, so it is quite a good change to keep the defense stable.

    Theo is good when running at defences, and we might use him earlier in the second half to cause more havoc on the Lester defense. He is equally good at giving away possession, so we might need to be very tight.

    JK

  3. D-Money says:

    Good write up 17HT. Agree with majority of your analysis. I personally think weather we beat Leicester hinges a lot more on the starting XI Wenger puts out than we would all like to admit: if he starts Per and Flamini, I’ll struggle to maintain any positivity I currently have…the thought of Vahrez running at Per (and already past Flamini, with Ramsey having naturally bombed forward) is the stuff of nightmares…

    This is just me, but I think this may be the prefect time to try out an El Coq pivot ahead of Barca, where I personally believe we almost have to play both Coquelin and Elneny if we are to stand any chance.

    Leicester sit deep (and now much deeper than they were in early part of season) and if we are honest we’ll all admit that Theo kinda struggles against deep-lying defences as that nullifies is pace. So Giroud to start for me is obvious.

    Only big question (assuming we go with the unlikely – for Wenger- El Coq pivot, uis what happens to Ramsey…he’ll ofcourse naturally play RW. Have stated before about how I feel about Ramsey out wide but he’ll also be key to retain possession (much better at it than Ox, not so sure about Campbell). The only strong argument for Campbell to start would stem from his much better defensive solidity, but that approach I think is overly negative, and we have to win this match, as a draw would ultimately prove useless and just invigorate a team that has only lost twice all season in PL and would have a 5 point lead with 12 to go…

    For the above reasons, I would prefer this XI (though I’ll probably have to make peace with the ghastly possibility of Flamini and/or Per starting):

    Cech
    Bellerin-Gabriel-Kos(C)-Nacho
    Elneny-Coquelin
    Ramsey-Ozil-Alexis
    Giroud

    This XI also sees us with very good attacking options off the bench in Campbell, Ox, Theo if we need them.

    I’d also go with the same team and XI for Barca.

  4. Maahi says:

    I would like to see coq to start
    Check
    Bel Gab konc monr

    Coq Ram

    Ox ozil sanch
    Grd

  5. TotalArsenal says:

    Welcome back D-M 🙂

    What makes you believe Elneny is ready to start and a better option than probably our strongest DM/B2B pair CoqRam?

  6. TotalArsenal says:

    Well written post Seventeenho and probably bang on the money with line up. I expect the BFG to return, and I hope so as well as we need his leadership qualities, positioning and calm. I wonder whether we will play 4-3-3 with Flamini, Coquelin and Rambo in midfield and Ozil, Giroud and Alexis up front, so we could hem then in and avoid deadly counters, and also allow us to use our full backs to get behind them…

  7. TotalArsenal says:

    Disagreed on the game being a must win though. A win would be very welcome but a draw would still be okay. A loss would be a disaster and we should bare that in mind more than anything else. I don’t want us to attack gung-ho and leave the back open for counter attacks. Let’s control the midfield and stay compact and solid, and then, hopefully, take the few chances we create.

  8. D-Money says:

    TA Ramsey always leaves whoever he is partnering in midfield exposed when he bombs forward, a natural trait he cant restrain it seems. Elneny is far more defensively inclined + disciplined and as evidenced in FA Cup (yes, it was “just Burnley”, whatever that means…) he and Coquelin can play together and then he effectively switches into more of a B2B ala Rambo, but with more defensive discipline. I love Rambo, but against a counter-attacking team his bursts into the box will vacate a lot of space for Leicester to attack. I still feel he has a lot to offer which is why i would start him at RW, but knowing full-well he will in any case drift inside constantly. I know it’s bit “experimental”, which is why I doubt Wenger would go for it, but IMHO it could work wonders.

    Elneny is a player with vast UCL and international experience, juts because we didn’t see him week to week at Basel we cant assume he needs x period before he is “ready to start”, not when we have been starting Flamini for almost 3 months…or maybe that’s just my hate for Flamini speaking 😉

  9. TotalArsenal says:

    Not always but sometimes, D-M, and Coquelin is faster and better in dealing with this, AND Rambo often recovers well himself. But his b2b link up play and added goal threat are key for us. You may be right to believe Elneny is ready to play in such a big game but why replace an inform Rambo at the heart of our midfield?

  10. TotalArsenal says:

    I am surprised you have hate for Flamini. I agree we cannot afford to play too many games in succession, but he gives his all and played many a good game for us this season.

  11. D-Money says:

    Flamini is what he is. He gives his all, but is his all at the level that a club like Arsenal need? If we are serious about wanting to win EPL, let alone UCL, we should not be starting Flamini that regularly. Especially not now in the running where every mistake and point is crucial.

  12. TotalArsenal says:

    But ‘hate’ D-M? 😳

  13. TotalArsenal says:

    Where to you stand re ‘must win’ re this game, DM?

  14. D-Money says:

    Maybe not “hate”, but I’d rather Flamini only started roughly 10 PL games a season and then only featured in FA Cup and C1C for rotation. He has a role to play in the squad and it’s not they key one he has had this season.

    I agree with you that it’s more “must not lose” then “must win”, but if we look at the fact that there will only be 12 games left after this one and we are currently 5 points behind a team that has only lost twice all season in PL, a draw would be us praying that Leicester collapse and contrive to lose more times in next 12 games then they have all season…and also with them playing none of the current top 4 again…So yes it’s probably more must not lose, but if we have serious designs on title, then it’s imperative that we win and close gap to two points, even then we still need favours from other teams…let’s at least do our part…

  15. TotalArsenal says:

    D-M, that is a fair point and agreed: about 10 is enough.

    Also agreed that we need to do our part and I trust the boys will find a balance between desire and control. It is the ‘easy wins’ for Leicester that are likely to do them damage as all of a sudden the weight on their shoulders appears to be a lot heavier, but it is only 12 games left and we will drop more points too..

  16. allezkev says:

    Just catching up, great preview 17tino…

    Agree with team, although I’d start Theo up top, despite his goal drought…
    Just a hunch.

    Wenger will probably go with your line up 17…

    Leicester will attack, it’s what they do best, and they’re very good at it…
    Arsenal best chance of winning, is if Leicester attack, so happy days…

    Arsenal to win 4-1 or 4-2…

  17. Admir says:

    Nice write-up, 17, aside from the obvious factual error: Le Coq didn’t play in the reverse fixture and that resulted with too many chances for the hosts. Fortunately, Theo, Alexis and Giroud all scored with full-backs having a superb performance in the final third.

    That will be the key, I think. If our full-backs manage to break the visitors, whoever spearheads our attack will have a lot of space as neither Huth nor Morgan are too quick.

    What worries me is that Leicester have found defensive stability. They may have conceded more goals than any other Top 5 club but their record since the festive period is nothing short of brilliant. For a team that couldn’t keep the clean sheet for almost half of the season to the team that can win games playing the Italian football – tight at the back, clinical in the final third. Also, the refs like them a lot. Too many penalties and offside goals have gone their way.

    A 2:1 victory, again. A goal from Alexis and Mesut each, Okazaki to score for the visitors.

  18. FMJ14 says:

    Hey 17 another excellent preview and insight into the opposition. Love your intro and Ollie’s pic at the beginning, lots and lots of laughs! 😀 Now I could easily go with your team it can get us the three points so for the most part I do but I see a mixture of high tempo possession and tactical plays from us while also utilising our pace on the break against Leicester at different points in the match. Against the high energy/pressuring tactics of LC strong possession football will be vital. No stray passes please! We need to be switched on from minute 1. I don’t see us playing a high line in this one so I have a slight feeling Per will come back in. I also share the same hunches as allezkev re: Theo and the win – maybe not by 4-1 scoreline but 4-2 or similar is more likely. COYG! My team for this one:

    Cech
    Bellerin-Per-Kos(C)-Nacho
    Ramsey-Coquelin
    Ramsey-Ozil-Alexis
    Theo

  19. FMJ14 says:

    * correction: If Per plays then he’s captain not Kos.

  20. TotalArsenal says:

    Respect FMJ for believing we can win with ten men! 🙂

    Rambo is omnipresent but I still rather not have him in two positions at the same time… 😉

  21. TotalArsenal says:

    I’d love a 1-0 to the Arsenal on Sunday! 🙂

  22. TotalArsenal says:

    We could see DW23 in action against Hull next weekend. All digits crossed! 🙂

  23. FMJ14 says:

    Hahaha! editing issues.. but on top form Ramsey can do that omnipresent role

  24. FMJ14 says:

    My actual team to face Leicester 🙂
    Cech
    Bellerin-Per(C)-Kos-Nacho
    Ramsey-Coquelin
    Ox-Ozil-Alexis
    Theo

  25. retsub1 says:

    It certainly is interesting T A and shows that statistics can be very misleading. Seems like a long wait until Sunday. Sounds like the best way to win is give them the ball lol.

    I think Sunday is down to fitness … Coquelin plays

    Confidence. As suggested it seems harsh to drop the.Ox having scored last week

    And lastly Mertesaker / Gabriel. Not altogether sure what the thinking is here

    My team

    Cech

    Bellerin Mertesacker Kos, Monreal

    Ramsey, Coquelin

    Ox. Ozil Alexis

    giroud

  26. FMJ14 says:

    Interesting read TA 🙂

    Yes Retsub that’s what I was thinking about just give them the ball and counter them playing them at their own game. We bypassed midfield very effectively in our last game at Bournemouth, perhaps that games tactics will also serve as a warm up to similar tactics deployed in this one?

    On the other hand we are at home and it isn’t likely we will sit back given Wengerian philosophy of playing our own game and being ourselves. So we impose our game through superior possession and high energy, which will require the fans to support us. When we do go forward it might be best to mirror LC in that the defensive players keep deeper positions allowing the forwards to attack with confidence. If we do this then their direct balls from LC looking to bypass the midfield to reach their pacy front men will be met by our defensive players. What do you think? Perhaps adopting this would buy us time to find the holes in the LC back line which Ozil and others can do. Mesut did this so expertly in our last game against them for Alexis to head home I would love something like that again. 🙂

    Having read that BBC post TA Danny Murphy’s got me thinking Per’s organisational skills at the back could be vital but then again so could Gabriel’s pace countering any direct balls that get through to Vardy et al. From reading Wengers comments in the below link I get the feeling that Giroud and Gabriel will start. So HTs lineup will be the one he goes with: http://www.standard.co.uk/sport/football/arsenal-boss-arsene-wenger-not-concerned-about-olivier-girouds-form-an-assist-or-a-goal-is-the-same-a3179516.html?

  27. davydavy says:

    Spot on with your preview and team selection I reckon!

    I’m looking forward to this one, and to reasserting our favouritism for the title this season. I like PE’s view that we should worry less about nullifying Leicester, and just concentrate on playing our best football. We can score against them, and will surely do so this weekend.

    There’s a bit of pressure, because a win (or even a draw) is essential – if we lose I’d be thinking that our chance has gone, and maybe we’d be having to look over our shoulders at the fast-improving Man Utd taking a top four place after all. Although it would probably be Man City who would drop off the pace to be honest.

  28. TotalArsenal says:

    A long wait indeedo Retsubster 🙂

    I go with your line up, although I prefer Campbell to Ox.

  29. TotalArsenal says:

    14, it is all about getting the balance right, and Wenger will have to get selection and tactics right, and centre of midfield is key. Cannot wait for the game.

  30. TotalArsenal says:

    Well said Davyx2 🙂

  31. retsub1 says:

    I don’t disagree T A its just sentimental old me thinking the Ox doesn’t deserve to be dropped. Personally I would have Pires every time

  32. TotalArsenal says:

    Pires? 🙂

    Great player, even though he was a bit lazy, he had style and great technique…and scored goals for fun.

  33. Pony Eye says:

    To most it is Gab ahead of Per. There is so much merit in it when the focus is solely on foot race. A game of football, however is a lot more than foot race.

    Per/Coata drama looks so much more of a Gab’s script (especially against Vardy) than a Per’s. Remember in that Costa drama it was Kos who played Diego on side. Otherwise Per’s unsurpassed field awareness had already nullified that move. You can bet that if Kos is able to keep up, Vardy will be caught off side numerous times, with Per playing.

    Per is ahead of Gab in the air.

    Per is our best CDer passer of the ball out from the rear. This is a crucial element in our playing philosophy.

    Positionally Per is outstanding.

    Organizationally he is the leader.

    When Per plays, Kosh plays better, because there is better understanding apart from the fact that their playing styles are complementary.

    One revealing question is ” how many times has Per’s slow pace caused us dearly in his several years with us”. Apart from the Costa drama, my memory has failed me completely. Just can’t remember any.

    Gab is a good player but imo, Vardy fear should not make him the automatic choice, throwing over board all the above listed.

  34. njk84sg says:

    PE,

    Getting Le Coq to play in front of BFG and Bellerin beside him to protect him from quick strikers may just help him.

    Look at our defense with Gabby and yes he might be quicker, he is a clone of Kos and will venture a little too high up the pitch.

    However, we can prefer someone but the answer will be given by Le Prof tomorrow.

    Sky has managed this game wrongly. Instead of scheduling it for tomorrow in favour of getting more tv audiences for other matches, this is simply the most exciting game around and it is better for tonight.

    How can the Spuds and Devils game be free flowing? Who can imagine 2 fast paced counter attacking teams playing in the same game?

    Although we halted their run the last time round, this time might be tricky as they demolished Shi**y last week.

    So, lets enjoy the footy tomorrow.

    Cheers,
    JK

  35. Hey fellas…Full day away from the ‘puter yesterday but I appreciate all the comments…

    Apologies for not getting the DM situation correct in the reverse fixture… That it was Arteta (not Coqelin) maybe should give us more confidence for this one…

    The two clubs involved are the same, but the situation seems quite different. Playing a wide open match–which Arsenal were maybe forced into when LC took the early lead (and almost doubled it)–worked to our advantage on the day. This one will likely be far more tactical. My hunch is that the protesters won’t miss much waiting those extra five minutes…

    Why? Because, like TA and others say, a draw isn’t a complete disaster–in terms of the title race. IMO, it is one (a disaster) simply because of the nature of the support these days. A win, by and large, only provides a respite until the next (potential) stumble…

    That’s a topic for another day and definitely an issue I tend to focus on too much. (Sorry, my hang-up, etc., etc…) A decade ago there was a traditional “big four” (Arsenal,Chelsea, ManU and Liverpool) but right now only one of those clubs has a legitimate shot at the title (us–which could actually be seen as a good thing). For me, this means that things.have.changed. and that expectations (perhaps) need to be reconsidered. I’m surprised nobody objected to my thoughts about it (“Gooners who have wanted Wenger gone for a decade could be licking their chops…”) but this is why I see the match as a “must-win,”

    A decade ago, the home stadium–even for the big clubs–was the easier place to play and thus a great spot to blood young talent. If AW were to go with some of those fellows: Coquelin, Gabriel, Ox, Elneny, and the result went against us, those young players would be damned by association. (And, being younger, they maybe actually read the tweets…) That’s some serious pressure on some slender shoulders… It’s worse, of course, if AW opts for the experience of the ancients (Flamini, BFG)…

    That’s just the way it is, so, ideally, the manager considers his selection based on the actual football and the tactics needed on the day. I’ve already given my line-up thoughts and I think he’ll go with youth hoping that we can get the result and build from there. The tactics have to be conservative: tight at the back and hopeful that the big money guys (Ozil and Alexis) can help (their contract negotiations?…) with some balls in the net up front or putting the others in… No matter what, we need to match Leicester’s pace and intensity and focus up and down the squad. It may come down to a set piece (another reason to pick Giroud over Theo?…) or a moment of brilliance (or a brain-fart…) amongst some of the lesser characters. The battle of the full-backs, like Admir suggests, seems really interesting…

    It’s hard to imagine a goal-free game between these teams so it could be the reaction (by both squads…) to one going in which ends up being even more important than which team scores it… just like the first time we played them…

    Can’t wait, Go on, etc., etc., blah, blah, blah… 😀

  36. retsub1 says:

    The power of tv has decimated the Saturday 3pm kick offs – what a boring set of games

    17ht. Your comment about home support is definitely worthy of its own post. I put it down to season tickets and seating. If you have ever travelled away ( I know you have). You will know that all the die hard away fans are grouped together. They all want to sing and they all want to be noisy, plus they all know the words to the songs.

    At the Emirates they are scattered to the wind and only a few songs are sung.. We’re the Notth bank Highbury, come on you reds etc

  37. 17highburyterrace says:

    Hi retsub… Cheers… You mean that the really supportive home support (those who want to sing, won’t throw in the towel and the first hiccup, etc…) is spread around at the home stadium and thus only the well known chants go up…which leads to the team needing to lead the support instead of the opposite?…

    I can see why they do the telly blackouts as the season goes on… Both ends of the table are looking pretty well defined, esp. after the ManU loss at Sunderland today, so it’s tough on the mid-table clubs. The Europa league is no picnic… ManU have 2 midweek matches in that tournament (we have to play Barca just once…) before our match at OT…

    So, the home support is tougher these days and maybe even backfires… They’re getting antsy at Everton, for example and Bournemouth losing at home… On the other hand, Norwich are gonna keep West Ham from leap frogging ManU, even though that team notched all those more impressive away wins (including at Arsenal on opening day)…

    The most interesting thing is that a couple of January signings have gotten some goals… Imbula, looking big and powerful (and costing 3 or 4 times more than Elneny…), hits a great volley to give Stoke their lead at Bournemouth. Did AW miss a trick? And Adebayor loops a header in for CP… Same question… 😀

    Another thing I missed in the preview: Martin Atkinson is the ref tomorrow. His record doing Arsenal matches is absurdly tough on us… Will his biases kick in or will he want to be sure to fight against them?… Hmmmm?… Something to ponder… He did that opener (vs WHU) and the NLD where Gibbs scored the late equalizer…

    Here’s a blog (from up your way, TA…) which looks at such things… https://adamhigginsblog.wordpress.com/tag/martin-atkinson/

  38. retsub1 says:

    17ht. What I am trying to say is that it’s very difficult to get an atmosphere going, when the vocal supporters are spread out so much

    As a teenager I used to go to Highbury pretty much every home game and a fair amount of away games. This was obviously before Hillsborough and all seater stadiums. If you wanted to sing and maybe have a punch up, it was up the back at the North Bank. Sing but less trouble over to the side at the North Bank. Etc etc. You simply can’t do that anymore. Unless you have a season ticket you have to take whatever is available, so you could be sitting anywhere. There are undoubtably noisy sections at the Emirates, but they will never compare to the North Bank

  39. Cheers again, retsub… I have a friend here who grew up in Barnet and, when we returned from our time at 17HT, he was shocked that I’d become an Arsenal supporter. Back in his day it was too scary for him even though he’s got many stories about being a bit of a ‘ard nut, himself…

    Definitely a changed atmosphere but we should be able to make a good one at the big matches, I would think… On that note, however, things were VERY tough on the home teams in today’s 3 o’clocks… only 1 point out of 15 won by the home clubs…

  40. 17highburyterrace says:

    6 straight clean sheets for Forster with So’ton… Swansea and Bournemouth getting drawn into the relegation fight… Now we just need Newcastle to pull themselves up at Chelsea’s expense…

  41. 17highburyterrace says:

    3 nil after 15 minutes so probably not… 😦

  42. retsub1 says:

    Amazing the bad feeling Mourinho must have created. Chelsea are still a very good team, just as well they gave us a head start this year. I don’t think they will do the same next year.

    You must have been an ard nut to live st 17HT? Student?

  43. Rocastle07 says:

    Evening all
    Just returned from Watching Charlton Vs Cardiff, at a time where ticket pricing is such a controversy, Charlton were offering free tickets too children in local community along with mums & dads an enjoyable day for my family for free….. It was nice to see our loanee Sanogo, all I can say is, if he can’t become a permanent fixture in this Charlton team he will never make it at Arsenal.

    On tomorrow’s game a real opportunity to show what a good side we are, beat Leicester and the dream of lifting Title come May will be a reality. My predicted team for tomorrow;

    Chech
    Bellerin Mertesacker Kos Nacho
    Coq Ramsey
    Ox Ozil Alexis
    Giroud

    I’m feeling really positive about tomorrow’s game, predicted score 2:0, Alexis & Giroud my scorers.

    Coyg

  44. 17highburyterrace says:

    Retsub, we lived at 17 Highbury Terrace (N5), not in the N17, if that’s what you were thinking. Awfully swank in my opinion and we were very lucky to get such housing. My wife is a college teacher and was there on a “study abroad” program with some American kids. This was in Autumn, 2006 and rents were very, very high… If you do a Google map search on it you’ll see that the new stadium was right there in our back yard… All I had to do was take care of my boy (only 4 at the time) and enjoy London… The best playground we found (and we looked hard…) was down at the other (South) end of Highbury Fields…

    The only difficulty was getting in to see the Arsenal. I went down there a few times trying to buy tickets but it’s a very different scene than here in the states or in other countries where I’ve seen matches (Italy, Mexico, Spain); no policies stopping the touts or scalpers, as we call them)… Even though the team was struggling there was a lot of excitement around the new stadium, I think, not to mention a lot of young folks with good jobs, etc., etc. Still fun to watch in the pubs, however, of course…People were starting to get awfully critical of the manager already at the point and there were some near-fights, if not the real thing…

    The only match we attended while there, in fact, was Charlton-Man City before the Sheik had bought them… My wife’s program bought tickets for the students (15 pounds each, I think) but some didn’t want to go so they were free for me. Charlton (with players like Darren Bent, Scott Carson, Andy Reid and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbank) beat City who had guys like Georgio Samaras, (American) DeMarcus Beasley and (Teenager) Micah Richards…and about 100 traveling supporters. 😀 I enjoyed it but it was pretty poor, looking back. Charlton edged it 1-nil, on a goal from Bent, but it wasn’t enough to save them from relegation that season…

    So, I’ve been to the Valley… Rocastle, who won today and how did Yaya play?… Also, I think it’s good that we seem to have an emerging relationship with that club, being so close to Woolwich and all…

    The more I think about tomorrow’s match the more confident I become but also the more I believe we need to win it, mostly to help get the support a bit more on board for the run in… Regardless, the top 4 will have a different feel after tomorrow’s matches…

    Now I need to go to sleep for the early kickoff… 😀

  45. retsub1 says:

    Thanks 17ht thanks for the background., I used to go to the valley before it was developed. It had a capacity of 75000 if I remember correctly, but it was mainly mud banks, not proper terracing.

    Anyway, sleep well and good luck for tomorrow.

  46. allezkev says:

    Interesting point about the Valley, Retsub, but I believe their main stand was purchased from Arsenal when Highbury was rebuilt in the 1930’s.
    It was the original stand built at Highbury around 1913’ish, designed by Archibald Leitch…

  47. retsub1 says:

    Wow Allezkev that’s interesting. I would have paid it far more respect had I known. I also saw one of the great goals at the new Valley. Fortunately scored by us, but sadly by Van Purse Strings

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