Akpom CF, Ozil nr10, Perez and Ox on the Wings: Arsenal Predicted Line-Up

Did Arsenal ever have such a deep squad as we have currently? Well I don’t know about you but I am looking forward to how our current ‘second choice’ players will do against the Tricky Trees, or is simply ‘The Reds’ more appropriate? You tell me.

We will be meeting two ex-Gunners at the City Ground tomorrow: Henri Lansbury and Lord Bendtner. One just did not make it to the top level but looked promising for a long time, and the other one has tonnes of talent but lacked the focus to make it at THOF. Nottingham Forest is still a famous name in football and we all know why, and there is no doubt that the locals will be looking forward to playing Arsenal at home and give us a hell of a game tomorrow.

Image result for nottingham forest football ground images

17HT, the one who used to do match previews for us for a while, and I watched a similar game live last season; Arsenal were abysmal and Sheffield Wednesday knocked us out of the League Cup. I hope we will play a lot better tomorrow and do the away support proud. To achieve this we need to field not just a strong team but, even more importantly, a committed team. For me, that means we need to select those players who are hungry to play. And there are plenty who are desperate to play some meaty football tomorrow.

NF made it to the next round by beating Doncaster and Millwall away (both 1-2), but they are not doing that well in the Championship with just three wins out of eight, and currently sitting in 13th position of the league table. This weekend’s loss against the Canaries at home is further evidence that they are there for the taking.

So how should we line up? It is hard to predict the line up but if we base it on a combination of players who need a game and anticipated appetite to give their all, I reckon we could see something like this:


Ospina seems to get the cup games, Gibbs, Holding and Debuchy all need a game and will be hungry. Arsene has said that Gabriel could play which I reckon means he will play. Elneny and Xhaka need a game and will be very hungry. Ox could do with another start and, to please some of the regular BKers here, I have put him on the right wing. Perez needs a game and could well start up front, but as I reckon Wenger wants to play Akpom as well, it is more likely that the Spaniard will start on the left – with a licence to move centrally as a second CF regularly.

I also think Ozil will start tomorrow. Mesut has yet to hit form and started to play club footie again only recently, so another game to get him up to speed and get the best out of Akpom, Perez and Ox should do him good.

Let’s hope our boys do us proud.


By TotalArsenal


49 thoughts on “Akpom CF, Ozil nr10, Perez and Ox on the Wings: Arsenal Predicted Line-Up

  • What a lovely riverside stadium they have! But you’re right with our squad depth and it is a welcome chance for game time for some of the team, With our squad needing to play to stay fresh, this cup is quite useful to be part of.

    Only change I’d make is to take out Ozil, who we will need in top condition against Chelsea, and put in Gedion Zelalem who is pretty much a like-for-like replacement..I would also start with the Jeff instead of the Ox, and maybe even Martinez in goal, because if we don’t start giving our younger players game time in fixtures like this then why keep them in the squad? This is their opportunity to show their stuff in a competitive match and in the new year to bring more silverware to the club by winning the final.

  • FG, cheers. 🙂

    I reckon Iwobi is a first team player at the moment and others need a game. Ozil is of course also a first team player but I reckon he just needs another game to get his form back. Reine-Adelaide could indeed start. Not sure though he will push any of the others out of the starting line up at this moment in time.

  • Yes, it could be any of the options mentioned, including yours TA. ☺
    I would have gone with double D’s suggestion regarding Zelalem, but I expected him to play in the Under 23’s tonight, along with Bielik. But it turns out neither of them are, which means they have a tough job on against Everton?

    However, I think AW wants a decent run in this competition, as it gives him an opportunity, like tomorrow, to give those pressing for a place a decent game. And have you have said TA, it will need a really good team performance against a side who would like to go a long way in the Cup themselves.

    Putting the two thoughts together, l think if he starts with Pérez, it will be in the middle. Akpom has played on the left before, but the right side it could be Iwobi or Ox. It is logical to assume that Ox is the more likely, unless Iwobi is not in AW plans to start against Chelsea? That may depend on whether Giroud might play, here, or at the weekend, as that would push Pérez to the right side.
    Ozil is a good shout for the CAM role. If we get a good start, then Jeff R-A might be his replacement on the hour. More likely he starts on the left, or not at all. Zelalem is the more likely sub for Ozil.
    I think the back five will be much as you have it TA. Although, I cannot see Gabriel starting, because he is not a contender for the Chelsea game, and there is an Under 23 game on Friday. He has been out for some time so there is no point rushing him? Hence, I will go for the Mustafa Holding as the solidity and continuity with both keeper and the midfield.

    If it all comes together, they should win. But individual mistakes could be their downfall, and that includes players trying to do too much to impress, something Ox And Akpom can be guilty of, and why both may only get time from the bench?


  • I believe Wenger’s preference would be to give 2nd XI game time not only for enhancing their match fitness but also for managing their bench frustrations.

    TA’s line up looks right to me except for Ozil, whom I feel would always be rested in these not too important matches as he is possibly the first name in our XI.

    I go with FunGunner’s options of Iwobi or Jeff for the #10 position. Wenger I reason, would like to try out Iwobi at #10 for consideration as an XI cover for Ozil.

    The bench; Macey, Bel, Bielik, Coq, Jeff, Theo, Sanchez.

  • Hi all..
    As I said before.. being too excited with our squad.. I just forget what always happened years by years.. hehehe..
    Wenger is still the same old style.. no matters how depth our team is..

    TA.. I’m agree with your team except Perez.. but I will surprised if Wenger change more than 6 players.. or half of our main (first) players.. hehehe..
    And I’m confuse to notice Xhaka and Ospina as our first player or not.. hehehe..

    I want to see Perez playing as our CF, we never really know him yet.. it’s the very best time to give him the opportunity to showed to all the fans who he really is..

    Gibbs and Debuchy are maybe the most frustrated players in our team.. They’re as good as Monreal and Bellerin.. in some others aspects. They need to play badly.. so let them play..

    The rest I can’t wish further.. cause if so.. then I will look almost alike TA team with Perez as CF.. hehehe.. And that’s mean 11 new players.. hahaha..

  • If Paulista doesn’t start, I can see Bielik partnering Holding at centre-back…

    I can’t see Arsene taking a risk with any of his main players earmarked for Chelsea this weekend, so sorry guys, no involvement with Mustafi or Ozil or maybe Xhaka for me…

    Jeff to start I think.

    Akpom and Lucas can both interchange between centre and left so plenty of variety in our attack…
    Oxlade-Chamberlain could do with a good hour on the right wing, a confidence booster hopefully, then Willock can replace him, depending on the state of play.

    Mavididi has been playing the No.10 in the stiffs, so he might get some game time as he’s been doing well in that role?

  • It will be interesting to see who Wenger selects to play against Nottingham Forest given heavy fixture schedule at the moment. Personally this the team I’m hoping to see:

    GK – Martinez
    RB – Debuchy
    CB – Holding
    CB – Mustafi
    LB – Gibbs
    CDM – Xhaka
    CDM – Elneny
    RW – Perez
    CAM – Iwobi
    LW – Akpom
    CF – Ox

    Without a target man like Giroud, I think Ox is pretty useless on the flanks. That said I would like to see what he can offer the team as a centre forward. Hoping when deployed there he plays in a similar style to that of Sanchez when he is deployed in the centre forward role (i.e. drops closer to midfield to contribute to the build up play and lurks dangerously on the edge of the opposition’s penalty box). If he can do that it should give Akpom and Perez the space in the penalty box to exploit with diagonal off the ball runs.

    Also I’ve gone with Martinez over Ospina as whilst Ospina is the better shot stopper he is rubbish when facing crosses.

  • Nice line up TA
    Hi Gerry(I was too late to reply on the previous post)
    Yes I do have more free time nowadays.

    I think Wenger will start at least 3 players who played on Saturday. He’s got that thing in his mind that if he doesn’t people think he’s taking things too lightly (he realised it a bit too late as we actually have a more than decent back up option for every position now)
    Ospina should start. One of the back four from Saturday will be retained and the other backups will get a chance.In midfield Xhaka has to start now. Elneny has never done anything wrong so he desrves a chance too. In attack Ox-Ozil/Walcott/Sanchez-Reine-Adelaide and Lucas or Akpom as striker.

    I know I’m using too many ORs but Wenger has become unpredictable recently. He either takes it too seriously or too lightly.

    Won’t be surprised if Lord Bendtner puts in a good shift.

  • Cheers Neeeraj, Just remember you still have your first year exams to come, so spend your free time wisely?

    And you could be right about Bendtner, he is a far post lurker at set pieces, and good in the air. I hope our supporters will treat him kindly, for all his faults he is a likeable guy.

    Cheers, Gerry

  • I feared as much, the kids got thrashed 5-nil by Everton last night.

    Like I have been saying, it is going to be a strong Under 23 League this season, and by withdrawing ALL the senior and experienced youngsters from their ranks, they were going to be pretty much exposed … and for what reason?

    If it is just to train with the first team and then, for some at least, just sit on the bench … if they are lucky? I appreciate that bringing them into a first team environment is useful, but surely if this is the game that might get them on the ladder for a start/bench against Chelsea, then that could only apply to a very small group.
    As far as I know, all of the following are fit: Ainsly M-N, Akpom, Bielik, Jeff R-A, Mavididi, Willock, Zelalem.

    Now a case could be made for M-N, down the right, and.it may hay happen?
    Akpom has earned his chance, carrying on from preseason into the U23’s.
    Bielkik I could stretch a case for him, for a like for like swap with Kos. But if he doesn’t get any game time he would have been better playing and gaining more experience in the new position?
    Jeff I have already made positive noises about him, and a great replacement for Alexis on the left.
    Mavididi? Surely only an ego boost? His time will come next year … unless AW is taking this Cup run very lightly?
    Similar comment for Willock really, as he is competing with Jeff on the left. Unless the latter is going for the central Ozil spot?
    But that is where Zelalem should be?

    On that count, I can make two possible/probable starters: Akpom and Jeff. Two very unlikely to start, or get a bench spot; Mavididi and Willock. One outside chance of starting; Maitland -Niles, but no bench position if Iwobi is part of the late ‘heavies’ coming on to rescue the situation. So either he or Ox could have been playing last night?

    Given the strength of the very, very, nearly first eleven who are not getting full games at the moment, and the need to have a strong, in case of emergency, regulars on the bench, along with back up Gk, there may be only two spots on the bench for the youngsters anyway.

    In fact it is easier to look at those who played the last game and say; Monreal, Koscielny, and Cazorla should not be involved at all. They need a break. That leaves 7 outfield players who could start or be on the bench. Then you have another 6 who were on the bench on Saturday, and for many, previous games as well, and are the most likely starters.

    Then you see the difficulty of fitting in ANY of the talented youngsters who are pressing for a place?
    One for AW methinks …

  • From next Saturday evening, we’ll have Chelsea, Basel and Burnley in 9 days, so Arsene has to manage and rotate his squad carefully, to keep as many on the pitch and available as possible.
    Total and 17tino were both at Hillsborough a year ago when Walcott and Ox picked up injuries so have 1st hand experience of risking players in this competition.
    Just saying…

  • As Gerry’s pointed out, a lot of reserve players were not in the U23 game tomorrow as they were involved in first team training instead.

    We know Wenger has talked about 4 young players who are on the cusp of making it. Bielik, Jeff, Akpom and Willock. He did say not all of them will make it this year but they all have a chance. There’s also Zelalem who Wenger likes but said will need to work on the physical side of his game, and Maitland-Niles who had a successful loan at Ipswich last season.

    Players who trained with the first team yesterday. Matt Macey, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Gedion Zelalem, Krystian Bielik, Ben Sheaf, Chris Willock, Stephy Mavididi, Josh DaSilva, Reiss Nelson and Emile Smith-Rowe.

    Smith-Rowe played in the U23 yest so won’t feature obviously.

    First team players who I think need game time. Holding, Gabriel, Debuchy, Gibbs. Xhaka and Elneny will be itching for a game too, as will Lucas. So I believe they have to start. Ospina will probably be in goal, unless Martinez gets it because Ospina is getting CL games (it seems)

    So that leaves just 3 spots open. And Ox needs to play to get better.

    Ultimately, like Gerry says, that leaves two spots open for the youngsters (to start)

    One as No. 10, and one as a Winger. (Lucas should play as a striker)
    Players who can play these positions are Zelalem, Jeff, Willock, Maitland-Miles, Reiss Nelson, Stephy Mavididi.

    So after all that, my guess is.
    Debuchy Holding Gabriel Gibbs
    Elneny Xhaka
    Ox Jeff Willock

    Subs: Martinez, Mustafi, Bielik, Coquelin, Zelalem, Alexis, Akpom

    My rationale for the starting attackers is that with Ox and Lucas starting who both look to run in behind, we’ll look for two more ball playing/technical players rather than those younger ones like Mavididi and Nelson who also play as runners. I was torn between Zelalem and Willock, but opted for it this way because I think Wenger really sees something special in Willock. I also went for a strong-ish bench with Alexis, Coquelin and Mustafi as being brought in any of the areas that might need shoring up, but also retaining the options of Akpom, Zelalem, and Bielik in those same positions if we are winning comfortably.

    But I’m sure Wenger will once again surprise us with his team selection 🙂

  • Sorry TA. Can’t agree about Ozil. He’s looked tired at times to me, and I don’t see how playing with the fringe players is going to help him when it seems he’s still looking for that magic switch following the change with Alexis at CF.

    I don’t mean that as criticism. It’s just that as Alexis comes deeper, Ozil needs to go beyond him, or go wide as one of the wide forwards cut inside. Which he was doing in the last game. But I don’t see him as requiring game time to build up his form. Contrary to your (apparent) thinking that it’s rustiness, I think it’s fatigue that was causing him to have those poor touches and less than his usual influence on the game. Sadly, can’t say the same about his finishing as that has never been great, but obviously that is affected too.

  • I am with you most of the way there Shard. Where I differ, ever so slightly, is the creative mid position.
    I agreed with Ozil as our creative mid because the main alternative would have been Cazorla. He needs a break. But I prefer Zelalem as the third choice. However I think that may happen from the bench.
    I do note that AW has played Jeff off the wing in preseason, and that may be where he sees him long term. Personally I think he is more a wide striker, Henry-esque than a central mid, but we shall see? It is also a lot to ask from a relatively inexperienced youngster to deliver in a pressure game? Although he does look unflappable. Whereas Zelalem has had a good grounding with Rangers.

    I also think we need to be strong from the start. That means a sound defence, and a quick skilful attack, so you don’t mess with the midfield that links the two?


  • Gerry

    They’ll still have Xhaka and Elneny to back them up,so I think they should be fine. I agree with Zelalem, and I would play him at the No.10 and play Jeff wide. But I think Wenger’s brought up Willock quite a few times as being on the fringes of the first team and so he’ll look to play him.

    Though Jeff started out wide, his involvement (in pre season I think) was in the centre midfield. Even in the U23 game I watched, he was playing CM, and looked good. Diaby-esque. Except he did seem to lack some defensive awareness, which will come in time.

    We’ll see soon enough. But one of the exciting things about this competition for me is seeing some of our youngsters. So hopefully Wenger does have place for at least 2, and maybe more as subs.

    I also think that if Wenger wants to give Akpom a start as well, we could go essentially a 442 with Jeff and Ox wide, and Akpom and Lucas up top. Of course we’ll see them go wide at times, and either Jeff or the Ox can come inside to help the midfield too while closing down. But that might take care of the Zelalem/Willock, who at No.10 conundrum. It’s a championship team, so we should be able to get away with attacking a bit more. Especially if we play a defense and midfield 2 of first team players.

  • Busy busy these days so just catching up…Lots of logic among the would-be-Wengers but I think Shard shaves it–or at least comes the closest to what I might put out there. My only thinking is that Ox could play as a #10 or very nearly so with (perhaps) Zelalem (The next gen American/Ethiopian/German Ozil) in there instead. Indeed I was at Hillsborough last October when Ox was doing weird stretches and then hurt himself and I’m pretty sure he lined up as the #10 that evening….

    So…This one can only be caught on the Arsenal player over here unless you have BEIN Sports Arabic (which I don’t). No matter (for me) as I’m actually driving across the state (California) this morning but hopefully I can catch the 2nd half and any extra time and pens. Everything must be settled on the night, correct?…

    Anyhow, here’s to another positive result. We definitely have the depth this season to give it a go, I think…

  • Shades it, not shaves it….

    Also, I think you gotta get Akpom in there so maybe it morphs to a bit of a 442 with him and Lucas leading the line. I’ll go out on a limb with a line-up…


    Also, I missed commenting on the last post but I’ll take 4-1 on the road any time even if it seemed a bit scrappy at times and Ozil seems a bit out of sorts with Alexis doing both jobs… TA, your post put it all very nicely, I thought…

  • Have i told everyone how much I love xhaka? because i really do. I think we are very lucky to have 3 quality defensive minded (will attacking prowess) in xhaka, coq, and elneny

  • poor lord bendtner. That’s what happens when you rest on your laurels kids. Could have been world class but f*cked around instead.

  • Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, 4-0, and a very welcome goal for him…
    Assisted by a Perez…

    That’s a good 90 minutes for Paulista, Xhaka, Perez and Elneny…

    Clean sheet for Martinez…

    Great job done by the fringe players and youngsters…

  • At first when I saw the lineup I thought that we will play Perez on the wings and Akpom on the forward.

    Have only read the comments and match report, so cannot say much at the moment.

    Cheers on a good 3 points,

  • I am in the same boat JK. Also, I am taking one of my elderly dogs to the vets for an op. So further comments from me will be posted much later in the day. Nothing coming up on the ‘Player yet, so I’ll leave it there.
    It amuses me how the player doesn’t give the score, for us bods that want to watch it ‘as live’, but elsewhere comments are posted that make that null and void.
    It is the only reason I am writing now in fact.
    Regards the team, I thought it looked pretty much as expected, but the bench really did surprise me. No heavyweight back ups to be seen? It worried me, following the defeat by the exposed youngster the night before. This collection of players who were by and large, not played as a team, was a gamble?
    Looking forward to see how it unfolds.

  • Gerry,

    I just saw the highlights and Perez’s goal is something that I watched in the YouTube video about his goals in the La Liga..

    He just out muscles his opponent and rounded the keeper. Great goals from Xhaka and Ox, but I have yet to see the first half to comment about how bad he was.

    Let me watch the full match to have a better idea


  • It appears Arsenal .com cannot release any extended footage until after midnight tonight.

    It seems strange, given it is purely a domestic competition, but if Sky has the rights to it, they want to milk it first?

  • That’s determination from my gallego luuucas. I want to see him playing more. These toe things giroud has can be stubborn, and i want Alexis defense and all around threat back on the left.Plus, Ozil likes Alexis out there too …

    So Arsene, use Lucas !

  • Ahhhh you and Arsene, Total !
    Lucas will force his way into the lineup, just like he forced that ball into the goal.

  • Well just watched the 1st half, awaiting the 2nd ….

    First impressions? TA you will have no problem finding the 8 positives … along with your usual neg against OX 😀

    To a man they played as a team. I cannot find the words to say how difficult that should have been, given that all the of players had not played as group, and very few had played with more than one or two others before. It was much more than I could have hoped for, and has nothing to do with the level of opposition, it is all about them as a unit.
    True, I would not want that same eleven turn out against PL opposition, but individually, at least 8 would not be out of place, starting or on the bench.

    The set up mirrored how the other 11 played their last two games. A speedy front unit interchanging across the pitch. indeed it got a bit ‘total football’ when the RB tuned up in the attack as an inside left forward? Critics of Coquelin should take note here. It seems AW is clearly allowing any player to get forward as space presents itself, with the proviso that the space they leave is adequately covered?

    I am just in awe of this performance. I think some of the credit will go to how the Under 23 matches are that much tougher, that it prepares them better for this level, with regards the youngsters. It also shows there is an appetite to challenge the regulars for their spots.
    Xhaka for Cazorla’s place.
    Gibbs for Monreal’s place.
    Akpom for Girouds place … or Cech’s? 😀
    Jeff for Alexis, Iwobi, Ox, or even Ozil’s in the not too distant future. He has arrived!
    Perez … well his place is just crying out for him?
    Elneny will never be far away from the midfield options.
    Gabriel too showed himself in the best light in this game
    Damn it, that is your 8 positives TA. Team performance and 7 markers ha ha.
    Do them justice in your own inimitable style … 😀

    What must Debuchy be thinking now, when an ex loanee gets in ahead of him?
    Out of position to boot!

    Second half to come, I cannot wait.
    p.s. Top marks to the fans regards Nicky B 😀

  • Cheers Gerry, I only saw the goals so no report from me this time. Loving the positivity re the unit nature of the team, something we already saw during preseason friendlies.

  • TA, Perez is already ready.
    Not for a full PL game yet though.

    As with Gerry, I only caught the first half yesterday. Tonight will go for the second half.

    Ox plays better with youngsters and in the hole, but his corner kicks were totally out of sight.

    Perez plays with a good football head and a fighting spirit that matches well with Ollie and Alexis. If we play all 3 of them at one stage of the season we will surely say why we did not think of that lineup, with Ozil at the hole.

    More to come,

  • Just ahead of you JK, but you have to dig to find the 2nd half. Two presses on the ‘More videos’ button.

    Much as with the first half, given they did not sub anyone until the 80th minute. I recommend the full viewing TA, as you will love the ‘total football’ aspect of it. Ox and Jeff shared the midfield duties, to which the former paced himself really well, and scored a classic Arsenal goal in the 92nd minute.
    I lost count of the positions Maitland-Niles found himself in … in fact if you cross out LB I think he covered rest of the outfield positions. The heat mapping averages would be fun viewing as for many it would be a large blur all over the pitch. Jeff’s would cover almost the whole of the attacking half 😀
    I’m just glad he lived up to, and exceeded my prematch hopes. Not only does he play with intelligence, he looks the part physically. He is also next to Cazorla in using both feet with equal skill. He may be the standout performer as far as the youngsters go, but Akpom was not that far behind.

    The big winner was the understanding that the players had all around the pitch. Take Gibbs for example. He may not have played too much recently, but he is still the most experienced player in the back 4. He took on the Kos role to keep the others in line for set pieces. His link up play with Akpom, Ox, and Jeff was always evident. Xhaka and Elneny covered some ground between them, and always kept the team on the front front in possession.. Gabriel had his best game by far. Error free and some timely interceptions.
    I would need to watch Perez, rather than watch the game as a whole, because I am guessing he glides around a lot, and just comes into view when needed. I sort of agree with JK in him not being a starter. Not because he could not handle it, although he will get better the more he plays. It is more who he would play alongside. In this game Akpom was always ready to be his bag man, and gratefully accepted any returns that came his way. Alexis will demand more?

    I shouldn’t leave out Martinez from this round up either, as he had everything covered that came his way. Holding might be better on the right side in the CB line up, but similar errors will cost us against better opposition.

    I also hope Ox can build on this performance, as he and Jeff work the midfield tirelessly, and it was by far his strongest showing of recent games


  • Hi fellas… Now I know the (grim) reality–or extreme dedication–of the followers of the club who don’t get the games on the telly… :Winky Face…

    Actually, it was just fine as the announcers seemed confident and we sounded like it was a dominant performance (with a score-line to match). I couldn’t quite figure out how Maitland-Niles got in the line-up but eventually it became clear. Poor Mathieu Debuchy… Without the visuals, however, you miss a lot of stuff. Never in a million years would I have guessed at Henri Lansbury’s hair-style, for example…

    It’s all so different than the way I watch my football, often turning off the commentary when the announcers go over all the tired old conundrums we have at our club. Received wisdom is such a weird thing–but people seem to love it or at least go for it, sinker, line and hook… It seems infinitely preferable, esp. if you’re gonna spend time writing on the blogs, to have your own thoughts rather than just repeating what you’ve been told…

    That’s just my take on things and, having not watched more than the extended highlight package, I can’t say too much about the players and the team-work and all that good stuff. Nobody’s mentioned it yet, but Rob Holding was spared early on and it would have been a very different game, I fear, had we conceded early on his mistake. My biggest takeaway from the highlights was that the Ox’s technical confidence (aka “swagger”) seemed contagious and, with everyone controlling the ball in that manner, we looked very much on top in every spot on the pitch.

    So, maybe one to watch in its entirety but I’ll probably keep my powder dry for the Chelsea game…

    Happy Thursday…

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