Strongest Arsenal 11 and Bench with Lucas Perez, Xhaka, Mustafi: A Squad for Silverware

Imagine everybody is fit in the squad: what would be your first team?

My first team would probably be this one:

submit football lineup

I would happily replace Ramsey with Elneny but I feel that the Welshman is a bit further in his development and deserves a place in the first 11 now. I would also be happy to play Alexis as our CF as Arsene has done recently. That would mean that Giroud would be on the bench and one of Theo, Iwobi or Ramsey (with Elneny or Santi taking his place) to take Alexis’ place on the wing.

It is fair to say that I don’t know much about Perez and Mustafi but I am assuming that Wenger has bought them to improve the first team rather than place them in the wider squad. Perez’s goals and assists stats are favourable compared to Theo, The Ox etc, so I think he will play in our strongest possible team, and most likely on the wing. I am also assuming that Wenger could only entice Mustafi to Arsenal with the promise that he will normally start rather than be on the bench. However, it could be that he needs time to settle in and both Holding and the BFG are very good alternatives to have.

So for me the above line up is about the strongest we could field IF everybody is fit.

And what would the bench look like?

Well wow, our bench would look awesome if Wenger could pick from the squad with a full health bill.

Ospina would be Cech’s cover. A good goalie with a lot of confidence. For central defensive cover we could put on our bench Holding, the BFG or Gabriel: all fine options if you ask me. For full back cover I would put Gibbs on the bench.

For midfield cover we can pick from Elneny, Jack, Coquelin and Santi. It would be really hard to leave any of these players out… In fact, I feel they should all play when fully fit… but there is no space for them.

For attack we can pick from Walcott, Welbeck, Iwobi, Gnabry, Ox and Akpom. Again it would be very hard to leave some of these players out.

We can only pick seven from the above mentioned players for the bench, and if I had to chose it would probably be: Ospina, BFG, Gibbs, Elneny, Jack, Santi, Welbeck.

What the above demonstrates is that we have a very strong squad now and I cannot wait to see them all in action this season. It is a squad with the depth, hunger and quality to win silverware.

What would be your strongest first team and strongest bench if everybody would be fit?

By TotalArsenal


58 thoughts on “Strongest Arsenal 11 and Bench with Lucas Perez, Xhaka, Mustafi: A Squad for Silverware

  • Are you forgetting Carzola was player of the year for us, he is far superior to Ramsey on the ball.

  • BrianW, it is a matter of personal preference. With Xhaka sitting deep(er) I prefer an athletic b2b player and would play Rambo or Elneny in that position. Santi is the perfect supersub in midfield for me.

  • For me the perfect mldf are santi and xhaka and I would like to se groud on the bech so rombo will play the position of alex

  • I’d not have Ramsey anywhere near the first 11. Our selection of midfield players has far superior players than him in it. My team would have the same back 5, Sanchez xhaka, Carzola, Theo, ozil and Perez.
    Bench would be ospina, gabriel, coq, giroud, welbeck, Elneny

  • Hi TA,

    I like the 11 you have, and would likely be the same. I could imagine AR and Santi trading off, even including El Neny, and choosing from the 3 based on the opponent.

    a. End to End game = AR
    b. Park the Bus = Santi for precision (?)
    c. We defend more / Counter = El Neny and/or AR

    We could figure that this could include resting Xhaka as well.. So, 2 of those 5 depending on opponent. I would be keen to hear opinions on my very vague 3 types and choices above.

    cheers — jgc (in NZ for those keen to know)

  • I see what you are smoking TA..

    However, Santi and Xhaka is the ultimate DM double pivot against defensive teams. Le Coq and Xhaka is the staple lineup for attacking teams.

    Maybe we can play Perez up front, with Alexis and Rambo on the wings, constantly shuffling.

    Maybe Mustafi is the upgrade to Holding, but taking off a lad that makes a good start after joining is not going to make his learning any better. Maybe putting him in the under 23 team will make it better for him rather than him on the bench, but Wenger has the final say.


  • Hi all..
    TA, Wenger won’t just give Sanchez CF role out of no reason.. I still don’t know yet, but I hope it mean we will play with 2 Striker.. 4-4-2.. hehehe..

    I don’t know if Perez can play a LF.. the place that Sanchez did very well last two season.. We all knew and wish for Giroud backup or upgrade.. So why must put Perez in the position that we already had the man in the right place..??
    Just for comparasion.. Jansen don’t shine in Spurs.. because he move to winger position.. but for our sake, let him play there for the whole season.. hehehe..
    So Perez is our new Welbeck.. give him that role..

    I agree with you about Cazorla.. Yes he is our supersubs.. He can backup Ozil, Elneny, Ramsey and even Xhaka.. We need this kind of great player who can replace whoever miss in our midfield.. but we all know he can be our good starter also..

    Nice to have a lot of great players in our team..

  • I know Ramsey had a great tournament this summer, but still don¨t understand how you could put him before Santi or even Elneny in that role. I can’t remember any match from the last couple of seasons where he wasn’t average or horrible when trying to play there (not the same position as in the Wales team)

    If you ask me, just put Santi next to Xhaka and I’m fine with the rest (depending on how Perez turns out of course, since I haven’t seen enough to judge.. and maybe switch sides for Alexis and Lucas)

  • Hi all, while the various lineups all look solid, I still wonder where the 75-80 goals will come from this season. Comments?

  • It appears to me that Wenger’s main strategic thrust for the season is to conquer with the squad and not with the first team (XI). In other words he is trying to create many XIs. He is responding to the numerous injuries many teams (Ars somewhere around the top of the table) suffer every season. Thus the best XI for the season, in his eyes, has become a myth. He has therefore created a squad in which for every position the starting player could very nearly be selected through a lucky dip.

    For example the double pivot could be
    1) Coq/Xhaka
    2) Coq/Ramsey
    3) Coq/Santi

    When it is recognized that each opposing team represents a slightly different proposition as well as home and away matches (I like jgc’s format) we see that nearly any of the above 16 options would have its day.

    Playing the bottom half teams at home for example where buses are likely to be parked against us my XI is:

    Against top half teams at away:
    ——–Same back 5———-

    Essentially it should be Perez for quick transition play, Giroud for park the bus teams.

    Wilshire should always be brought in as a sub to slowly build up his form for the 2nd half of the season. He is a special talent and when in form can be an alternative to Santi and Ozil. It’s a long season.

    I must say I have a lot of faith in Wenger’s strength in depth strategy.

  • cech

  • It’s going to become harder and harder to predict the team every week, if we have all these players fit of course. Which is unlikely. But we’ve done as much as possible to cover for these injuries and we indeed have built a squad with much depth and quality.

    I’m sorry to say this TA, but you’ve forgotten one player on our depth chart. Wenger referred to him too before we bought our new signings. Yaya Sanogo. Unfortunately he’s injured right now, but he should surely count as another option were we desire to play with a Giroud style target man up top.

    I think I agree with your starting XI. So far this season however, (and I can’t believe I’m saying this) Walcott has shown that he is up for the fight. I think it’s between him and Lucas for now. Of course, Lucas could also play up top instead of Giroud or Alexis. We still need to see how he fits in. But I’m loving our options to switch it up if players are injured or out of form, and according to any tactical requirements.

  • TA,
    I truly can’t say i disagree with any of your starting 11 or bench. I’d go that way, except for your left right side swapping of Alexis and my new favorite gallego lucas.

    I’m hoping Arsene has learned to tailor his first 11 to the days opponents. I would prefer against some teams, to rest giroud and go with a faster team, saving Olivier for the bruising battles.. which is still the majority. If things work out better, in those games, maybe lucas, Theo, or Alexis can convince him to try it more often. It would be better for Ozil AND Xhaka (our xabi) to not have a slow plodder upfront for their amazing long passes and through balls.
    For champions league, or sjper importand tight affairs, i still prefer the conservative, hard to break down set up with Rambo right midfield and 2 strong dm and cm.

    Ox and theo will have to fight it out, and produce to get those sub appearances. By the way, i thought Theo was excellent on saturday.
    But agreed on your main point- what a strong, deep overall squad.

  • to me me i w’d prefer this 11
    we would beat any team even Man Utd.. Believe me!!

  • I did not know you were such a fan of fantasy football TA?? ‘If every one was fit…’
    Is there ever such a time?
    But even playing this fantasy game, it is not an objective task, just subjective. It appears people can see games differently, and thus players enhance their reputations while others lose theirs in their eyes.
    At least Geoff – Nice to see you back Prof, we need your Presence! … and PE have looked at the bigger picture and saw there will no longer a ‘Best 11’, only best for purpose?

    I will repeat what I have said before, AW’s biggest problem is first getting a ‘team’ that works well together, and then maintaining the sharpness of the non-playing members of the squad.
    I don’t know if many saw the breakdown of our larger squad on the ‘Untold site last week, which included the two ‘yet to officially sign’, because it is huge.
    Not only do we have 10 older ‘home grown’ players in the 25, we have 8 younger ones who do not have to be declared. They include; Bellerin, Iwobi, Gnabry, and Akpom. The likes of Jeff R-A and Bielik can be bundled in domestic games, if not European ones. If Debuchy leaves there is still one spot available for a late surprise?
    I am sure I have missed some out, but you get the idea. So the big, big question is how do you refresh the squad? What constitutes as ‘out of form’? One bad game? Or several if their ‘best’ is seen as essential to the team’s efficiency? Hunger on the training field may be how the manager sees it? But again, changed one cog, and that can have a knock on effect to the balance to the team.
    This may be why double changes may be made, as with substitutions, and have nothing to do with the second player’s form?
    Then comes the integration of youth? They have the new ‘reserve league’ which looks like providing stiffer competition for another 11 or so players, so I am expecting that to be more structured towards getting a balanced side that mimics the first team squad, and probably have more involvement from AW?
    If it is an ‘ad hoc’ group of players who are just their to keep players fit, it will serve no purpose whatsoever.
    Even with your ’18’, TA, there are some impressive names left out. It is the same with every body else’s selections. So rather than the shambles of the last Under 23 game, where there was little understanding between players, I foresee the likes of Coquelin, Ramsey, Santi, and Ox, being regulars in midfield, especially if they have spent two games on the bench as unused subs? Apply this to Ospina switching with Macey, Gibbs, Holding, and Mertersacker in defence. Up front, no difference, Walcott, Iwobi, Gnabry and Giroud, and yes, even Alexis all taking their turn if the first team are doing very well without them, or they are returning from injury? This is where they will have to prove their worth for an upgrade.

    Do all of that, and you can see that only the very, very best younger players will get a look in at this reserve level. It is an opportunity to grasp, and will be an ideal alternative to going out on loan. We have already lost Hayden because he saw no regular games coming his way, and likewise Campbell, who has chosen a different league. Some of course will get loans, like Chambers who has dropped down the pecking order even further with Musafi probably taking the Mertersacker spot, even after he returns, who knows? So it makes sense for him. But for someone like Gnabry, surely he has got to be in with a shout of displacing Walcott or Giroud? But any player who does not look like advancing even to the bench, must surely either look to the longer term, or move on?

    If I am right, I think the crowds at reserve games will increase rapidly. That in turn will create an atmosphere for these players to perform well in.

    No more ‘Best 11’, or even best 18. Best Performers who Best Fit the team, and are the strongest against the opposition on the day.
    Make it so AW!
    That also applies to League Cup teams. No more ‘Kids 11’, thank you very much. Play a competitive team that can include the very best of them all the way to the final. Not just the second round!

  • Geoff

    I also believe that we will change the midfield and also the attack to deal with certain type of opponents. However, we will see a strongest eleven being picked and nurtured if fitness allows this, as to establish a clear team unit and identity, which all top teams seem to have.

  • 84

    Perez, Alexis and Rambo up front is a good call. That way Arsene can incorporate Aaron and have the extra defensive support. He is also likely to score more on the right.

  • Good comment PE. I don’t think Wenger will use different teams as you have set out, but making some adjustments according to the opposition we face is on the cards. In the end Wenger will be striving to one all conquering preferred first eleven I reckon. This will take time though.

  • Gerry,

    More reasoning from me.

    For the League Cup teams, you sound like Mourningho, who does not like to field kids until he saw what Rashford can do.

    Kids 11 can work when you mix second-teamers, like Rambo and Ox. We have good youngsters that can be improved defensively with Holding and Chambers in their team when Mustafi starts for us.
    Maybe you wanted to say “pure” Kids 11, that I myself can say ‘ok, they are not ready on their own yet. But it will not be long’.

    We have a good team of youngsters and some quality ones in the team, and by loaning them to the championship they will not necessary get better without game time. Some came back from their loan not getting any better too as they had little game time, even with their on-loan clubs.
    This season the new Under 23 league means that we can get better opponents which makes the youngsters better.

    So, for me, the League Cup is still a “zero-priority” cup, and it is a good platform for the “80% kids + 20% second stringers” to gel and get some game time. Unless we want to do the “double” domestically, that is a different story…………

    The line between kids, second stringers and first teamers will slowly be less and less prominent, and that is something that in the near future we are likely to see happen.


  • Starting 11:

    GK – Cech (strong aerially / strong shot stopper)

    RB – Debuchy (strong tackler / competent interceptor / weak crosser)

    CB -Koscielny (competent tackler / strong interceptor / strong aerially)

    CB – Mustafi (competent tackler / strong interceptor / strong aerially)

    LB – Monreal (competent tackler / strong interceptor / weak crosser)

    CDM – Coquelin (strong tackler / strong interceptor / weak key passer)

    CDM – Xhaka (competent tackler / competent interceptor / weak key passer)

    CAM – Ozil (strong key passer)

    Wing – Walcott (strong off the ball runner / weak dribbler / weak goal scorer)

    Wing – Perez (competent off the ball runner / weak dribbler / competent goal scorer)

    CF – Sanchez (competent off the ball runner / competent goal scorer / competent key passer)

    GK: Martinez (competent aerially / competent shot stopper)
    CB: Chambers (competent tackler / competent interceptor / strong aerially)
    CDM/CAM: Cazorla (weak tackler / weak interceptor / strong key passer)
    CDM: Wilsherre (weak tackler / weak interceptor / competent key passer)
    CDM/Wing: Ramsey (competent off the ball runner / weak dribbler / weak goal scorer)
    Wing: 5. Ox (weak off the ball runner / competent dribbler / weak goal scorer)
    CF: Giroud (weak off the ball runner / competent goal scorer / competent key passer

  • Not quite JK. The 80 percentage of young players is more or less what has happened recently?

    What I want to see is those youngsters who are proving themselves in the reserve league being the ones to carry it through into Cup competition level. Now that may be more than 50 percent, but what it does mean they will have earned their place. The more rounds we get to play in the competition the more opportunities there may be for others?
    What I do not want to see is very young players being thrust into games that they cannot handle. For example, the lad Dasilva who came on for the Under 23 match and looked very capable, dropped back to the Under 18’s and had an outstanding game – ref Jorge Bird’s report. Build him up slowly to the next level and he will be a player of the future. Put him in game against serious Championship or League One team before he is ready, and his confidence could disappear, as could the risk of serious injury on growing limbs. Err, perhaps not much more growing in his case?

    Opportunities will come for them at a later stage. What should be happening is keeping those that have shown real talent, like Iwobi, that they are not to be discouraged by dropping down to reserve level. Rather take it as a positive that they are still in contention to get a first team spot, rather than weeks of being on the sidelines being an unused sub?

    The League Cup is an ideal place to rest those first team players who have played regularly, and start with those who are near that level, along with others who have shown promise. At least then you may have the makings of a very good team … emphasis on ‘team’. Not just a collection of youngsters who get thrown together.
    Back in the day when our ‘Youth’ team went to Liverpool and beat them 1-6, they were a team first. We haven’t got that today. Their defence is suspect because of some going on loan, and others injured, and others not so good. We have tremendous prospects coming through the midfield, although some could do with another year to fill out, and when it comes to strikers, Mavididi is getting there, but surely the Akpom’s and Gnabry’s have a better case if the are not getting games because of the quality in the first team is keeping them out, not their own level of form?

    This League Cup is ‘Silverware’ after all said and done?

  • HheheheheHenry 🙂

    Perez looks like a player who, like Alexis, can play anywhere upfront: a multishaped peg for a variety of holes. 🙂

    I reckon Wenger will continue with the Sanchez up-front for a while: it is just a hunch. I don’t think we will see 4-4-2 but we will see two, or maybe even three attackers being available up-front at any given time. These attackers will also have defensive duties for their FB partners, but we will see more than one typical finisher/CF up-front. I reckon that Perez will start regularly on the left and will replace Alexis as our CF if he is not available. Wenger may go back to Ollie up-front sooner or later, but for a while I can see us playing Alexis as our main CF.

  • Ed, 12-15 goals each from Theo, Ollie, Perez and Alexis.

    15 goals from Ozil, Ramsey, Elneny, Chaka and Cazorla (pen taker)

    Rest from defenders and wider squad (Ox, Iwobi, Akpom etc)

  • Shard, good shout on Sanogo – I like him too but feel that Wenger will loan him out again this season – and there is nothing wrong with that 🙂

    I like to regard Theo as an outside chance of making it into the first team: it is good that we have a lot of competition now which will mean that he has to fight for his place – and that is when we see Theo at his best I reckon.

  • Cheers Johnnie, that all makes a lot of sense to me. Will we see constant adjustments of the team to suit the opposition? I don’t think so as Wenger will want to play our own style and make it stronger and stronger. However, some adjustments, especially in midfield, are likely to be made.

  • Gerry, I am not sure where you are going with your initial comment and I think you are contradicting yourself in the first part, but as you are not answering the questions of the post there is no need for me to respond. Luckily, 84 has picked up something from your comment that interests him. 🙂

  • Rio Ferdinand has tweeted that he ‘reached out’ to Arsene Wenger (how touching) when he left ManUtd in 2014, at the age of 35…

    12 months later, after a memorable 11 appearances for QPR (they were relegated) he retired…

  • Rio also seems to think that he’s a good dancer as well Total, baring in mind that cringeworthy EE advertisement… Pass the sick bag…

    Liked your team btw, with one exception, Santiago for Ramsey… 😉

  • Thanks Mr. Wenger for the three signings, atleast we are on the trophy now.

  • Kev, I am quite amazed with the number of fellow Gooners who prefer Santi to Rambo. I just think that with Xhaka and Ozil we have two brilliant passers and with Rambo, who is not a bad passer himself, we have the motor and legs to connect midfield with attack. He is also a better goal threat than Santi… but I guess we all see it differently hahaha 🙂

  • Its a difficult decision with Santi (in the deep midfield) because when he plays are attack looks really cohesive and we keep the ball better. But he gives up such a lot defensively through not being able to cover the ground. Id go Elneny, Xhaka they seem the two players who can Pass and Tackle. Hard B*****ds

  • Hi

    I am never gone, TA, just merely more or less present! 🙂 … Regardless a few more thoughts:

    1. JW on loan, interesting if true. I know he’s a favourite here for some/many, but I think a loan spell with every game play would be good. He either bursts forth, or perhaps not.. But, he’s not getting the opportunity to get fit and get into it slowly (or too slowly sometimes), and that hurts his development. He’s not played regularly for years, really. … Just IMO

    either way:

    2. I like Liam’s note about Xhaka and El Neny, as I see them when we want to defend hard, leaving the magic to Ozil and the forwards, which Liam expressed his own way! 🙂

    3. I figure we will see a set 11, like you, but I suspect some variation on opponent and form. Particularly perhaps for big derbies away? El Neny has an outside cannon shot also that might prove useful in certain cases.

    The overall good news, as I see it, is even with 1-2 injuries, we have choices. Imagine Xhaka is out, as many have him in mostly, and we still get to choose 2 of El Neny, Santi, Le Coq and AR, and possibly JW if rumors are false (but how often does that happen!?) 🙂 … So, even 2 injuries wouldn’t cripple us at all as in past.

    Finally, on AR:

    4. I am not yet satisfied with one wing. Could be Perez with OG up front (at least sometimes), could also be AR, where he played a lot 2 years back, as well. Our very good wing backs overlapping lets them all come inside.

    Oh, and, on Xhaka:

    5. Caught the last game, and had to say his long passing got us out and going far faster than we often were last year. Last year when we did so, it was often from Ozil coming back. But, with Ozil back, to echo Liam earlier, he’s not up front to help finish it. Fast ball out and forward more directly benefits him and us by letting him stay up there..

    cheers — jgc

  • Kev.. what a shock news.. Wilshere is one of Wenger favourite player.. but I must say yes.. and I think Wenger must did it last season together with Scesney..
    But anyway goodluck for him..

  • Nothing is said on official site with regards to Jacko. If he goes on loan it will be good for him, as our midfielders are overflowing. And his injuries are so much to the point that any injury to him will be considered an amputation (arseblog mostly).

    Prof, I agree that Xhaka’s passing abilities makes Ozil better up front. His headed goal is a very good example of this as he does not need to care about no one at the back kicking balls up fast enough.

    I suspect you meant the right wing. This season Theo looks like a changed person. His attack and defense skills are better, but his lack of finishing still needs to be better. So, we are safe on both wings, with Alexis coming back to his preferred spot.


  • Yes, the news on Wilshere is a bit of a surprise. Although I think he or Ramsey were surplus to requirements, in that fanciful world of … ‘If everyone is fit’. They both have fallen to that affliction, and we do have two extra bodies in there since either played at their best for any length of time.

    For those of the hard of reading persuasion, I did say yesterday that those who were looking likely to not make the bench should look to the long term, or move on. This seems an example of that?
    Chambers seems to have his move settled, would be another.

    Since they have changed the rules on loans, there are no more ‘loans out’ when this TW closes on Wednesday. So others, like Ox or Gnabry will know their fate shortly.

    Sorry Prof, I still do not think there will be a ‘First 11’ as such. More like a core 14 or 15 who will interchange when all are fit. I can also see the ones ‘left out’ will not automatically make the bench. It will be the next level who might move up so subtle changes can be made to the playing side, which may need different tweaks to the one that may have played in previous games. Following on from that, the three ‘spare’ places on the bench should be given over to those who are putting in good performances at the Under 23 level.

    Again, for the hard of reading, what I said yesterday is that there will be players who will play many more games than others, but the pool of players being chosen for any 18 on the day will be from a much larger source. If not, the January window could well see exits from disgruntled players who are not getting a look in. So how AW assesses players deemed worthy of a first team squad position is not an enviable one. However, this Wilshere loan shows promising signs of a more pragmatic approach?

    We shall see in the very near future …

  • Oh, a quick update on the Fantasy League – We have an early leader:
    Clydes 14+1 – 65 points. Nine points clear of the nearest challengers, who are all covered by another 9 points.
    That was the only way I could give my team a mention, being the last of that group. But left unchanged, they did come up with my first ‘better than average’ score.

    Early days….

  • Geoff, your physical presence! on the blog is the one we are in need of. ⚽️⚽️⚽️

    Good pointers. All agreed re Elneny and Rambo. We have options now to get the balance perfect.

    We need to get out of Ramsey what he was capable of during the Euros. I see that as our b2b midfielder but could also see him play in the hole with Ozil occupying the wing with a licence to roam. I prefer the former though and reckon that Xhaka will not only get the best out of Ozil but also Rambo. All three are guaranteed starters when fully fit as they are top midfielders in Europe let alone the UK

  • We have 40 hours of TW to go. I am hoping we see no more activity especially on the selling front. There is still a risk that a biggie gets sold which would be a big downer.

  • Completely agree TA on our midfield setup, people forget how good Rambo can be. Agreed with Xhaka we can bring the best out of Rambo and Ozil. Plus we have Coq for times where extra defensive cover is needed and Elneny to cover CoqBo should either of them suffer injury or lack of form.

  • Good news FMJ, now we have a number of attacking formations to work with. 😀

    I really like Alexis as CF and then we can have two of Theo, Perez, Iwobi and Ramsey (Ox, Gnabry) on the wing. But I also like the thought of Ollie as CF and Alexis and Perez on the wings – that would complete the evolution.

  • Perez came to life in his career playing centrally so looking at it from the outside I would play him there and then as he gains confidence and experience in the PL I would also play him on the wings too. Wenger will know where to play him as he will get to see him up close soon.

  • I reckon it is easier to gain confidence starting on the wing and supporting either Ollie or Alexis, FMJ. But let’s see what Wenger will do with him.. 🙂

    New Post New Post 🙂

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