How to Beat our London Nemesis: Santi, Xhaka and Ozil to feed Alexis and Theo

My Best Team Against The Chavs – our London Nemesis

It is about time we beat the Chavs again, I am sure you agree. But how can we do it?

By outpassing them, just like Pool did last week Friday. But we also need to defend their counter attacks really well and keep all eleven players on the pitch.


This will not be easy and it is fair to say that this London derby will be our  biggest test yet this season. Having said that, I reckon we have what it takes to finally win a PL game against the Chavs again, and let’s hope the referee will be able to deal adequately with all that will be thrown at him on Saturday evening. This is of course as key a factor as anything else.

They will be okay with sitting back and play us on the counter, and we all know how many times we have lost to them through their counter attacking football, feasting on the space we had left for them. Part of me wants us to sit back and invite their pressure, so we can beat them on the counter, but we are now too good a team to not go and attack them and win the game the Arsenal way. Luckily, with Koz, Bellerin, Mustafi and Nacho we have four fast defenders who can play a high line to great effect.

How should we then line up? Well the back five are obvious picks: Cech, Monreal (although a Gibbs start is not inconceivable) King Koz, Mustafi and Bellerin. Coq is needed for his steel, but he will have to check his temperament a bit, as he is likely to be one of the players to be provoked by the infamous neck scratcher. Rambo is not yet ready and Santi is playing so well at the moment that we cannot leave him out. So Xhaka is likely to miss out once again, but his time will surely come. I am a bit worried about Santi’s lack of box to box mobility though, especially if and when we lose the ball. The Chavs have some fast players and our box to box midfielder will have to track back and support his fellow DM/Defenders regularly. If we are to play Cazorla, we need the full backs to be very disciplined: only one of them can go forward at any given time.

I reckon Santi will play, but I would be tempted to play him in the hole this time, with Mesut moving to the wing (in a free role). Next to Coquelin, I would be tempted to play either Xhaka or Elneny, as they both have the engines and legs to do the full on B2B stuff required against the Chavs; they also give us that extra bit of defensive steel in front of our back four. With the Chavs likely to sit back and forcing us to pass our way all the way to the goal, Xhaka carries a fine threat with his long distance cannonballs. Elneny also has a decent long distance shot, so either of them would do for me.

With Ozil on the wing and Santi in the hole, we need two proper goal threats up-front. We can pick from Theo, Perez, Akpom, Alexis and possibly Giroud. I have a suspicion that Ollie’s toes are absolutely fine, and although I don’t expect him to start, I can see him come on as a substitute to score the winner towards the final minutes of the game.

I fully expect Wenger to play Alexis as our CF once again. This is the new plan for the season as far as I can see it, and I love it. That leaves me with one remaining ‘midwing’ position to fill and  I would either pick Theo, Iwobi or Perez. Given Walcott’s recent form and his fearlessness in front of London opposition, I am opting for him to complete my dream 11 to beat the Chavs:

submit football lineup

What do you reckon fellow Gooners: is this the team to take all three points from the Chavskis?

By TotalArsenal.


26 thoughts on “How to Beat our London Nemesis: Santi, Xhaka and Ozil to feed Alexis and Theo

  • I like your team Total, with maybe Santi out wide and Ozil in the middle, Xhaka partnering Coquelin.

    But Arsene will, I think, pick Iwobi on the flank with Santi partnering Coquelin.
    Ozil in his usual spot…

    I think it’s gonna be a draw, maybe 2-2…
    Mustafi vs Costa should prove interesting…

  • i expect Wenger to play Ozil in the hole, and except for Alex Iwobi on the left, Alexis back in the left wing, Ollie up front, and Theo on the right. Perez to feature as a sub when we are down, and Santi-Xhaka pivot doing the dirty work.

    Allezkev, Mustafi vs Costa is something really interesting, and that means if Mustafi loses his head he is gone..

    I watched the second half of our midweek game last night and it is quite a good half, but that is not EPL standard. Most of my thoughts have been mentioned by Gerry, so I will leave it here.


  • A very good write-up. With Courtois’ penchant for conceding long-range goals through his adventures off the goal line, Xhaka is an indispensable pick, as he’s scored some since arrival at the Emirates. As we can’t afford to pass too much in the opponent’s box in view of the likely pack-a-bus tactic of our opponents, Carzola can start from the bench and come in with his freekicks. Ollie and Le Coq have to control their temper and avoid dissent with the officials and provocation from the enemies – they’d certainly pray and work for a dismissal to give them numerical advantage over us.
    As you rightly suggest, we must watch the counter attacks while exploiting ours through Theo and Chamberlain. We can’t afford to allow them recover after losing the ball to us in or around our box.

  • Good line up TA, but there again we can conjure several line ups that are equally good. What a squad!!

    Kosh and Mustafi are a new pairing. Alexis at #9 is a new experimentatio. Wenger might like to keep the middle of Coq , Santi and Ozil stable.

    Santi is best for wriggling out of high pressing teams like Liverpool. Man C, and Spurs but not Chelsea who do not high press but instead have very fast with-the-ball front three of Hazard, Costa and Williams. Pace is Santi’s achilles heel. So Santi might be dropped and his excellent forward play compensated for by Xhaka’s long passes.

    Iwobi is excellent going forward but he lacks effectiveness in supporting Monreal. Does Alexis take over from him with Perez at #9? Am assuming Giroud is not yet fit. I doubt if Wenger would do this as that would mean a new combinations in the defence, MF and attack. So I expect Iwobi to start wide with Alexis at #9.

    Note that the Coq moves upfield ever so often now. He is a terrific ball winner . Wenger is obviously trying to use him for winning balls high up the field. In other words his box to box role is more for dispossesing the oponet and less for creative passing. The creative passing would come from Xhaka, mostly from deeper positions. The pivot as 2 box to box players is Wenger’s age long dream.

    Expected line up;


  • Error@ 06:08


  • Good morning TA. I think you have a fair chance of 10 of the 11 starters tomorrow.

    The biggest problem we have is just how Conte will play his hand. He has got the Chavs playing to win now, and my guess is they will be quite willing to go toe-to-toe with us, rather than get stuck in a tactical battle. Hence both sides going for the ‘high press’ turnovers, which should end up as an end to end game, with a fair bit of clog in the middle of the park in between?

    Therefore I think your worry over Santi’s speed to get back is a real one, so I can see him being the most likely change from your line up.

    The other thing that Santi in the 10 role exposes is the ability to keep the front line fluid. He would conduct with little sideways movement, Whereas Ozil’s addition is to inter weave with the other two up front. Going back to the ‘Is he a CF or not’ debate, I think you slightly miss the point of why Alexis cast in the 9 box works. Basically him not being in the middle, imo. So that quartet you have picked is missing a player who can pick up on holes in front of goal, and that player is Iwobi. For the moment at least.

    I did say, tinkering with the team could end in a disaster. To take Iwobi out of our attack and not replace him with someone similar (Perez?) would take away a core ingredient in that fluidity.
    Theo is now doing what he should have been doing before he had ambitions to be a CF, He makes the defence work to stop him on the right. Alexis makes the defence work, either by going wide, or dropping deep, and then picking the right time to move towards the box. Ozil just does his thing from side to side, pulling the defence out of shape just by his movement. Iwobi is the mystery spice ingredient that makes things happen. He gets into spaces inside the box that can be an assist or a shot the instant it becomes available. That will be priceless in this game.

    In the Forest game Xhaka look very controlled, despite being on the end of a few of our ex’s late tackles, particularly Lansbury – How he did not get a double yellow was generous by the ref in the extreme? – But as I say, Granit just played on. I expect similar tactics tomorrow. I also expect Elneny to come on for whoever is most likely to get a second yellow in our double pivot?

    I also think AW will stick with Monreal at LB, as I don’t think he will get forward that often, it will be Ozil or Iwobi going on the overlap on the Alexis wing. Bells will be supporting Theo on the right, which is why you need Coquelin’s speed to cover the gap he leaves behind him. Hazard being a big threat if given space and time to get first run?

    That only leaves the CB pairing to not make any schoolboy errors, and we should be fine …. most of the time ….

    So that is my thinking as to the way Arsene will play it. Just Iwobi for Santi.
    I think a couple of those who gave their all on Tuesday will get on the bench, rather than turn out for the U23’s tonight against the same opposition, but only if they might get minutes on the pitch. So Akpom, and Jeff, likely to miss out.Gibbs and Ox, with Ospina, Elneny, Holding, Cazorla, and Giroud filling the other slots. Giroud to start the next game, all fresh and raring to go?


  • Cheers guys, lots of support for including Iwobi into the starting eleven, and I am all for it….but then at the expense of Theo. I think Ozil will need Santi’s creative support against the bus parking Chavs, and Theo is less effective in these tight situations.

  • I’m stuffed trying to guess who Arsene will select for his starting XI in match to match, but this is who I would like to see:

    GK – Cech
    RB – Debuchy
    CB – Mustafi
    CB – Koscielny
    LB – Monreal
    CDM – Xhaka
    CDM – Coquelin
    RW – Walcott
    CAM – Ozil
    LW – Perez
    CF – Sanchez

    Defensively solid back 5 and central midfield, with Xhaka, Ozil and Sanchez the primary creators and Perez, Sanchez and Walcott the goal scoring outlets. If that attacking ploy fails, Ozil can go to the left wing, Ox can replace Walcott on the right wing, Sanchez can assume the central attacking midfield role and Giroud can replace Perez and take up the centre forward role. With that setup Arsenal’s wide men and fullbacks can focus on crossing balls into Giroud and Sanchez and Xhaka can start shooting from long range.

  • TA,

    I think you forgot about Theo’s goals against Chavs, not only once, but in a few games.
    Iwobi is an intelligent player, but we need him to be more defensive too.
    Until this is something he can do, we should not start him.


  • I suspect you did not see how Theo defended this season yet… Maybe it is not up to your standard, but at least he knows how to defend.

    We need everyone to defend and attack against the Chavs, so as you said, we will leave it to Wenger to choose his best lineup.


  • Like PE I am in error .. on the bench. The final selection should have read Perez, not Giroud.

    Otherwise it is a case of ‘Snap!’ with PE’s choices.

    Regarding Iwobi defending, I don’t think Nacho will be getting forward that often, mainly because Alexis ignores the overlapping FB?

  • Ok guys,

    Throw all your team sheets out of the window.. Ollie might be starting upfront, and that is the latest news coming from the official site

  • I rather not see Ozil in the lineup against Chelsea to be honest. When he’s on form, yes. But he’s looked jaded the past few games. I rather see a midfield trio of Coq, Xhaka, Santi.

    And I have to admit that Theo has been playing well this season. He’s exceeded my expectation so far. His movement when Alexis drops deeper is key as he fills the CF role when Alexis drops deep. Better defensively and offensively, I wouldnt write him off yet TA

  • Alexis value as #9 or rather in the box is from his agility, his quickness. He is always the first to get to the 2nd balls and 3 of the 4 goals he has scored this term in all compititions have come that way. That is vital for us considering the way teams defend against us. But he still needs to impove his movements off the ball in the box to be a more rounded striker.

  • Nice write up TA I have pretty much given up on trying to Guess Wenger line ups, But hope Xhaka gets a game. It’s great having someone who is not afraid to shoot from distance and brings a new element to our game.

    For the first time for a very long time, I am feeling reasonably confident going into a Chelsea game. I think this is because we have a hungry squad and some news faces who aren’t used to being beaten by Chelsea. I think we have the players to break them down, but almost as important is maintaining our discipline. So many Chelsea games recently have involved sending off, dodgy decisions and penalties and almost all of them in their favour.

    It may not be sporting but I wouldn’t be adverse to winding Costa up a little

  • I think its got to be Alexis up front, even taking pens. He seems Hungry for goals this season. The messi, Ronaldo comment he made earlier in the season was a big one. I think in that position he could back it up (at least in goals). For me Ozil has to play in the 10 whenever possible, the best in the world in that role. Do you risk Santi in the middle? or go for more athletic option. Id probably go for Xhaka, Elneny whith Alexis pressing like a maniac up top. You would think David Luiz would be sh*****g himself

  • The only blog worth reading by the way. There is a limitless stream of b****ks that exists when people talk/write about Arsenal. Good work

  • Liam, I beg to disagree with your choice of Alexis for penalty kicks. He has taken 2 very poor penalty kicks for Ars from 2 kicks.

    Santi, Perez, Iwobi, Xhaka in this order depending on those on the field.

  • BTW, I am not writing Theo off at all. He has had a few good games and I included him in my ‘ideal team’.. But to claim that Iwobi is a worse defender than Theo I thought was hilarious.. 😉

  • Cheers Retsub… a passionate and disciplined performance is what is required. We have the men to do it. I am hoping Xhaka will indeed play but am a bit worried about his temperament against the cheating Chavs

  • Cheers Liam, really would like to see Xhaka and Elneny start together tomorrow… The image of curly haired Luiz shitting himself at THOF is rather pleasant hahaha 🙂

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