Rambo and Xhaka DMs, Iwobi and Ox on Wings, Gabriel for Kos? Match Preview | Predicted Line-up


Tomorrow Arsenal play a crucial game against Ludogorets Razgrad in the CL. A win and qualification for the next round should become a formality, if it will not be in the bag already; a draw or a loss and we will be up against it with hard games against PSG (at home) and Basle (away) to come. Add to this that Arsenal will have tough fixtures in November, and it becomes obvious that Arsene would love to secure early next round CL qualification tomorrow evening.

Wenger also seldom or never plays a weakened team in CL games, especially not when there is still something to play for. From what we saw in the home fixture, Arsenal should be able to win tomorrow, but this will not just happen by itself. The home crowd (about 9000 seats only) will be behind their team, and they will want to revenge the dreadful 6-0 defeat a few weeks ago. And if we play with a low tempo and lack of intensity and aggression, it could become quite difficult for us to secure the three points. They definitely have players that can hurt us and are pretty strong in midfield to give us a game.

I reckon we have too many ambitious and proud Gunners in the squad to be at risk of underestimating the challenge, and Wenger will select the right team to achieve victory. But he also needs to guard for fatigue and keep an eye on Sunday’s big NLD encounter.

As always, predicting the exact line up is not easy, but a mixture of what I reckon will work and what Wenger is likely to do leads me to the following starting eleven:

Predicted starting 11:

submit football lineup

Ospina in goal is more or less a given. Gibbs to continue on the left and Jenkinson on the right in defence as Bellerin is ruled for tomorrow’s game. Mustafi starting once more and I reckon Koscielny could do with a rest and Gabriel with a game, so I am going for a MusGab central defence duo.

There are a lot of training pictures of Xhaka on Arsenal.com and this seems a great game to reintroduce him. I also feel that Rambo will get a start which will allow us to rest Coquelin and Elneny, who will be desperately needed on Sunday.

Mesut Ozil struck his first professional hat-trick as Arsenal thrashed Ludogorets

Either Iwobi or Ox should get a rest as they both looked knackered after playing 60 minutes on Saturday. However, Wenger has not got too many options right now with both Welbeck and Perez injured and Theo not fully fit either. So I reckon both Ox and Iwobi will have to start even though it is unlikely they will play the full 90 minutes. Ozil in the hole and Alexis up front for at least 70 minutes, but maybe Arsene will start with Giroud instead. I have no doubt that Ollie will play at least 20 minutes tomorrow and let’s hope he can add another goal, or two, to his impressive tally.

Come on You Rip Roaring Gunners!!

By TotalArsenal


48 thoughts on “Rambo and Xhaka DMs, Iwobi and Ox on Wings, Gabriel for Kos? Match Preview | Predicted Line-up

  • Thanks mate but I’d rather play Holding instead!…Gabriel lacks composure and you can’t teach that…just watching the EPL cup I felt much more comfortable when Holding was on the ball than Gabriel and that says a lot!!

  • OK latest team news is in – so I will have to make some changes….

    Arsène Wenger has revealed the latest team news ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League game against Ludogorets.
    And it centred on which players did not travel and who will start at right back:
    on team news…
    Who did not travel is Monreal, Cazorla and Bellerin, Walcott – both are more or less injuries. Some of them being very close, like Walcott, Bellerin had a little incident in the last minute of training so they are not here. For us it’s a big game because as you said, if we win we can qualify. But if we lose, you can as well be in a difficult situation. So we know the importance of the game is massive.
    on whether Carl Jenkinson will play…
    He is in the squad. I have not named the team yet, I will decide that tomorrow. He is in the squad. I have plenty of right backs in the squad, three or four.

    Read more at http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20161031/team-news-bellerin-walcott-monreal#MP24hQxtdolLZep6.99

  • Lets not be deceived by the 6-0 trouncing of Ludogores. With their numerous Brazillian players they are a pretty good team with the ball who had 56% possession against us at the Emiraite. Without the ball they are woeful. They top the Bulgarian league after 11 matches with 34 goals already scored confirming their love for attacking football.

    Wenger would want to be solid defensively and capitalize on their porous defense. I believe that Wenger’s preference would be to ease Giroud and Rambo back fully with about one or two more sub roles, but the absence of Theo might make him reconsider.

    His headache would be in the wide areas, where I doubt he has the confidence that Iwobi and Ox can reproduce Theo’s goal threats. He’ll possibly still end up with Giroud and Rambo on the bench.

    Expected line up:


    Sub :Cech, Gab, Holding, Elneny, Rambo, Jeff, Giroud

  • Cheers PE, almost missed you there among all the noise hahaha 🙂

    I am happy with that DM duo starting tomorrow. Yet I can see Rambo start and maybe even Giroud.

  • Nice post a Total, for a minute I thought I’d logged onto VH1… 😎

    I think that Arsene will go with his strongest available starting XI, get the job done in the CL, then focus on the Spuds…
    Bellerin, Walcott, Monreal, all being saved for the Spuds I reckon.
    Not sure about Santiago?
    Xhaka, Giroud, Ramsey all available to spice things up.
    Seems we’re in a good place regarding the squad…

  • Gerry, I see that Ben Sheaf has been training quite regularly with the 1st team…
    Have you seen much of him and what do you think?

  • For me, Rambo has no role to play in such a high-profile game yet (at least not on the starting lineup), if we’re serious about winning this game and the group. Why must we upset the balance in the team which has been doing well in Rambo’s absence. I just hope his hurried return to the first team lineup does not haunt us, as there’s absolutely no cause for it yet. My opinion, though.

  • Nice preview TA. As always I’m stuffed trying to figure out who Wenger will pick in his starting line up. That said, A little bit nerve racking but ultimately positive performance by Arsenal versus Sunderland. In light of Giroud and Ramsey’s return to fitness and Arsenal in the midst of another 3 games in 8 days, I would like to see a little rotation for the Ludogoret match. Maybe:

    GK: Ospina
    RB: Debuchy
    CB: Mustafi
    CB: Kosicelny
    LB: Gibbs
    CDM Coquelin
    CDM: Xhaka
    RW: Ox
    CAM: Ramsey
    LW: Ozil
    CF: Giroud

    With that line up I’d be expecting lots of accurate crosses into the box from the likes of Debuchy, Ox, Gibbs and Ozil to target Giroud’s aerial strength and Ramsey’s surging off the ball runs into the opposition’s penalty box. That line up would also provide The likes of Cazorla, Alexis and Walcott with some much needed rest ahead of the North London derby.

  • I read your line up and thought that could be the full 11 from 11 … premature congrats!

    Very little seems to keep Alexis down, despite the battering he took on Saturday. Big test for Gibb’s constitution too, but I am very hopeful his previous misfortunes are behind him.
    I have less concerns about Ox and Iwobi fading after 60 minutes. Ox in particular, with those quick bursts of pace repeated time and again would have an effect on top sprinters in training? He is only just getting regular games, so the stamina build up will be of the slow build kind. Unfortunately for Iwobi, there is a need for him to do a defence assist. I think in the last game he stretch himself too much. The deeper he came back, the less effective he was up front. Is there a compromise?

    You are right TA, this game is one we do not want to mess up, so AW will be looking to keep it tight. In the home game they played very well in the first half, but we got the one goal advantage. They will look to do the same?

    If my observations were correct, and you had me doubting what I saw in your report TA, I think Ox will play the deep Cazorla role, with Ramsey and Xahka, if that is the chosen midfield, alternating as to who goes forward. Xhaka (as captain?) is an excellent choice to exploit our flanks with long cross field balls. Elneny in the last game, in sharp contrast to the one before, spread his passes wide to the willing runs of our wing backs. Xhaka is capable of that without stepping out from his defensive role. I guessing Ramsey starting will depend on how well he came out of the last 20 minutes of play. His ‘full’ fitness energy will be needed if he is to cover the Jenkinson runs in attack?

    So completing your 11 are the CB’s. Again, I agree Mustafi’s uncharacteristic error/misjudgement will be overlooked because of his considerable international experience. Not having seen any of the Reading footage, where Gabriel got very mixed reviews, makes the obvious choice on the left side … if indeed Koscielny is rested? Given that Kos will be on the bench anyway, it might be tempting for AW to start him? The alternative would be for Mustafi to switch sides, and accommodate either subs, with a slight preference, mine that is, for Holding, given his pace and communication with Jenks. Both will be vital.
    If it wasn’t for the NLD looming, I think this would be far more straightforward, particularly with the CB selection? Perhaps our ‘Baldrick’ has a cunning plan to keep as many players out of international duty as he can? Perish the thought 😀

    The Bench will be rather youthful, given the players left behind? I think M-Niles and Jeff are a given, but Kev’s observation about Ben Sheaf could be another. However, the Under 19’s play Ludogorets in the Youth CL competition, so they will all travel out together anyway.

    Regards Ben Sheaf Kev, as I said to TA when he met Sheaf’s parents, he is very talented. A young man’s Xhaka brings up the right image I think? Superb at dead ball situations, along with a fierce shot. He has been adding to his development on the RW, but his future lies as a CM.


  • Slight update on Sheaf Kev.

    I was doing some catching up with Jorge Bird’s stuff on his excellent site for all things youthful, and it seems Sheaf has had a couple of games at CB recently, both at Under 23 level. This is switch is partly because of players out on loan. However, JB confirms that Sheaf is still 18, and so is more likely to be involved with that age group.

    It does make the bench look a little short, and if Debuchy does not make it ahead of Marc Bola, then even his biggest fan will have to accept the reality?


  • Waldo, I have just spotted your reply to my query. Many thanks.

    Now I understand … where you are going wrong 😀

    Career stats. There is no doubt about Debuchy was a good player … emphasis on ‘was’. What has he done since that injury? Has he played anywhere near that level, apart from a glimpse pre-season? Did he impress at Bordeaux? No.

    So even dismissing the fact that playing makes you match fit and sharp, you still have to get over what went wrong in his head when he could not displace a 21 year who is wrapped up in the long term future here. He burned his boats with Arsenal, and Arsene in particular, with his agitation to move, and comments made on loan.

    I scanned the academy ranks to see who might cover for Jenkinson, who impressed many in his recent full game. as well as in the Under 23 cameo previously.. Result, Holding, who may already be playing, ditto Ramsey, but both could switch. M-Niles, who I think will be on the bench to replace Ramsey or Ox. Which leaves Marc Bola and Matt Debuchy. My money would be on Bola because AW is very capable of dismissing players who fall short of his ‘loyalty’ test. Not to mention the fact that Bola has trained with the first team, has played recently, and I think he is too old for the Youth match.

    On 2015/16 form, Bellerin is miles ahead of Debuchy, and recent form puts Jenkinson ahead here.

    I admire your tenacity. I too have stuck by players like Ox and Gibbs, while others were prepared to see them go. But I have so such sympathy for Debuchy in his attitude since his injury, which was very unfortunate I admit.

    Sorry, but that is how I think AW sees it.
    p.s. Earlier I said the bench looked light. What I meant was, beyond this 18, we have few options. So who makes up that squad will be interesting, especially if they pull someone from the Youth line up, like Mavididi?

  • Each to each his own Gerry but I respectfully disagree.

    Last season Debuchy was only afforded 2 EPL games for Arsenal during which he averaged 4.5 tackles per game, 1.5 interceptions and 0.5 key passes, while for Bordeaux he played 9 games and averaged 4 tackles per game, 4 interceptions per game and 0.3 key passes in an offensively poor team. All in all quite impressive output despite limited opportunities.

    In contrast Bellerin last season played 36 EPL games for Arsenal and recorded 1.6 tackles per game, 1.8 interceptions and 0.7 key passes.

    So overall Debuchy was the more impressive.

    Also the last time Debuchy was given a substantial run of EPL matches in 2013/2014 (28), Debuchy recorded an average of 3.3 tackles per game, 2.4 interceptions and 0.8 key passes. That output is similarly superior to Bellerin’s of last season.

    In light of the above, I can understand why he was miffed with Wenger for not picking him and why he was agitating for a temporary move away from the club in a year in which his country of birth was hosting the Euros and he was trying to retain his spot in the nation squad.

    As for Jenkinson his output in recent years has been worse than Bellerin and while it was great to see him back in action the other night I didn’t think his performance was particularly impressive.

    Don’t get me wrong I’ve got nothing against Bellerin or Jenkinson and am not enamoured with Debuchy either but the fact of the matter is Debuchy is the better performer of the three and I want to see Arsenal play their best performing individuals regularly, particularly in the EPL, to give them the best chance of winning.

    It’s the same reason I’m a huge fan of Coquelin but not so much Elneny. That said, each to each his own.

    Cheers 😊

    Btw my predicted line ups are who I think Arsenal should play in particular matches based on individual’s recent performances. I gave up a long ago trying to guess who Wenger would actually play.

  • Actually Gerry I was wondering who from the under 23s this season has impressed you the most?

    It’s great to see others keenly following Arsenal’s academy teams. I used to follow them closely but Arsenal’a decision to sell Afobe a few years back, despite his sensational performances on loan, and not promote Toral this season kinda deflated my interest.

  • Cheers, Kev, Waldo and Gerry. All good considerations for the line up – who knows what Wenger will do re starting 11 but I cannot wait for the game to start.

  • Waldo, great reply. I query why he had so few opportunities at Bordeaux though?

    As for the Under 23’s, well I have made no secret I am a big fan of Nelson. Given his age he is only going to get better the more he grows. Nketiah too, is one of the younger ones, but physically bigger than Nelson. DaSilva even more so. I cannot wait to see how good he will be when he stops growing 😀
    Those are just personal favourites. Of the older ones I want to see fulfil their potential, top of the list has to be Zelalem. In two seasons time we could be saying ‘Ozil who?’ … But he has got to keep on that upward curve. I hope the early rounds of the FA Cup will be a showcase for others too. Akpom who seems to have the right attitude now. C. Willock is another. The aforementioned Ben Sheaf, M.Bola, and Mavididi will all be pressing. Sadly, in the short term at least, Bielik is not thriving as a CB, so like the others who probably need another season too, but are top quality in terms of potential.


  • The Under 19s kick off at 4.00pm GMT, but sadly no coverage advertised, audio or tv. BT are showing the Man City v Barca live, Under 19’s that is. 3.00pm ko.

    Arsenal.com have put up Reiss Nelson as ‘the one to watch’. They say ‘ at his dazzling best’ he has been too good for this level. At his dazzling best I think he is the most skillful player on Arsenal’s books. I look forward to the highlights.

    No updates on the first team squad yet.


  • Thanks for your comment Gerry. Sounds like Arsenal have some great attacking yongesters coming through their system. I agree with you about Nelson, he looks an excellent prospect.

    As for Debuchy’s time at Bordeaux he ended up playing 9 out of their remaining 15 Ligue 1 games after joining at the end of the January transfer window. The reason I think he wasn’t selected for 6 of those matches was because Bordeaux changed their manager halfway through his loan spell and their new manager (Ulrich Rame) tried initially to give opportunities to players which Bordeaux owned outright. Rame ended up reselecting him though when that experiment failed and he was ever present until he hurt his thigh which ruled him out of Bordeaux’s last couple of Ligue 1 matches and ultimately the Euros.

    From all reports Bordeaux tried to permanently sign Debuchy in the off season but it didn’t eventuate as I don’t think Debuchy wanted to move their permanently. Ironically Bordeaux ended up securing the loan signing of PSG youngster Sabaly who has been similarly excellent for them right back thus far this season.

  • Team news.
    Line up:


  • Cheers PE, this may turn into a 4-4-1-1, with Ozil more on the left and Alexis playing behind Ollie. Both Iwobi and Ox rested though on the bench. Great to see Ollie and Rambo back to give the team a boost.

  • I did expect the manager to put out a strong side, despite the general narrative being about an easy game for us. Going by that 1st half performance of the hosts at the Emirates, glad Wenger recognizes it is going to be anything but straightforward. I am surprised at how quickly he has re-introduced Ramsey and Giroud, though. Perhaps, we recognize the need to be defensively secure. Good luck, boys!

  • Well that was interesting. Once again we seem a little weak on our left side at the back. I think you can visibly see the boys in green tiring and losing a two goal lead won’t help them. Hopefully we will take them apart in the 2nd half. I imagine Wenger will want to get his 3 subs on whenever possible, we have a much bigger test on Sunday.

  • All round, a good team performance. Now, to rest up tomorrow and get back to work on Thursday, to prep for the NLD. That one is bound to be a cracker.

  • well said retsub1. Ozil’s goal was world class (what a dink over the keeper!), but Giroud should get a lot of credit for knicking the ball away. 87th minute and he shows that sort of determination. Most players would have just sat around with their hands on their hips waiting.

  • Arsene has an interesting selection poser for this weekend.
    Stay with Giroud up front?
    Or bring back Walcott, move Alexis up front and have Giroud on the bench?

  • Truly superb goal by Mesut to complete the escape. Dreadful start but that’s football and then the boys started fighting for the shirt. Lots of rustiness and a nervy, irritating game at times, but a fab turn around making us qualify with two games to go. We shed a lot of rust in Sofia in the process and were also able to rest a few players for Sunday. So all good. Sleep well. 👍💤

  • Not sure who was to blame for the 2 goals but Giroud and Alexis started coming back and led the team to score, who us good.

    Ozil motm I think?

  • Hmm, I got a hunch that you’re right on that one Totes…

    Tottenhams much vaunted defence up against a false 9, lots of movement and Walcott popping up all over the place…

    Night All

  • My overview of the game is mixed. Very good comeback and the winning goal was worth the wait. Flipside, the changes made disrupted the units within the team.

    The Giroud effect was to push Alexis to a more vertical wide left position of old, and him coming deep to assist LB defensively, which was probably part of the plan? Downside was it was a backward step from the free flowing, free scoring front line. Not a long term solution imo, but Giroud played his game very well indeed.

    The Ramsey effect was more subtle, partly because he played very well, slightly rusty but near top form. It is also hard to distinguish if our sluggish start was a result of them coming out of the blocks like a rocket, seizing on any break down like a terrier down a rat hole, or we missed our own slick passing that not only retained possession, but also pushed them back. On the latter point, it is no one player that changes that directly. It was a team mentality.

    Their first goal began with a quick switch of play to an unmarked player on our left. Quick switches like that does expose defences. It is the Monreal thing again. Perhaps Alexis could have been closer if he was assigned that job, but other errors followed. Gibbs did not get close to him until he was inside the box. Jockeyed the player to the by line, but missed his attempt to nick the ball away. a free cross had two players ball watching, with Koscielny being guilty of not knowing who was behind him, and Mustafi, who should have had a better view, but was watching the ball which was in the net before anybody moved.

    Unfortunately, it was Mustafi that got caught out for the second. However, this could also be attributed to the weakness of zonal marking, as a playing coming to meet the ball has more momentum than the one marking the zone?

    Fortunately we weathered that storm, and from the 20th minute we had better control over the midfield. The first goal came from a pass and move down the left, Ozil cutting back a ball from the by line .. right on it in fact …aimed at Giroud, who obligingly missed it, so it fell to Xhaka who placed it into the corner of the net. That goal deflated them. It still took until nearly half time before Giroud struck the second with a typical header.

    It is this period of play that troubled me the most. I think the team that played the previous home leg would have buried them.

    Here are my observations as to what the changes did in a subtle way.
    I have already mentioned the way Alexis was somewhat marginalised down the left side corridor, rather than his forays from deep centrally, thus providing one-twos around the box. Ramsey on the right never works for me, and the reason resurfaced here. He simply has not got the discipline to stay wide. I challenge anyone to watch how he played from the 20th minute, and compare it to how he played after the break, when I assume he had his instructions reaffirmed?

    On the previous post it was my view that Ox and Elneny had a very good understanding as to where the other was. It was a two way thing. With Ramsey down the right he goes seeking the ball, wherever that takes him. No coordination with the other midfielders. Result, Jenkinson is left exposed. This is not fluid interchange between the midfield trio, all three were pressing high up in their half at times. One minute he is committed to pressing the ball by the LB position, next he pops up on the right putting a fabulous cross for Giroud to head in.
    The argument for him would be that the other two midfielders should fill in, which they would do more so if that was the plan. The return to the right wing spot, interacting with Jenks at the restart belies that argument imo?

    TA’s line up had Ramsey as the B2B CM. That is where he wants to be, and invariably where he ends up. As I said at the beginning, he had a good game. But the lack of disciple out wide is always a big negative for me.

    Ox had less of an impact when he came on, but Elneny got a sublime assist. Iwobi too, was straight into that defence assist mindset. I will be very happy to see this trio return at the weekend so we can get back to the quick starting, free flowing attack that we have come to appreciate.


  • Morning Gerry, agreed with a lot and I will write something later today. Btw you got the sequence of the goals mixed up. We conceded first through their free kick.

  • Hi all..
    It’s a hard game.. but we made it anyway.. hehehe.
    Glad that this is a win in the first November.. hehehe.. you know what i mean.
    Let’s hope our November Rain will be a bright shinny November.. and we keep winning again and again.

    The newest test is our white neighbors.. which haven’t beaten yet this season. They wait for us to break their egg.. hahaha.. Can’t wait till it happened.

    I think Giroud should be our supersubs. With his skill and power.. and freshness in second half. He can be more useful than playing from the beginning.
    But don’t wait untill 70′ something.. He can play start from secondhalf begin.

    But wait.. Were We playing a 4-4-2 scheme lastnight or just my wished.. hahaha.. with Ramsey picked rather than Ox.. Sanchez-Xhaka-Coqeulin-Ramsey can playing as our four flexible midfields with Ozil as our second strikers.. hehehe.. 4-4-1-1.. A bit like Pep’s 3-5-1-1..

    And yes I’m Congrat City for beaten Barca.. Barca is weaker this season.. and we can do it also if we meet them.. hehehe. And you know guys.. City and Barca have something in command.. not Pep.. but they like to buy our star.. hahaha. But that’s a history.. for we never will needed their money forever again to strengthen our Club..

  • Gerry, good report and analysis. The analysis throws up a conflict. Giroud is delivering the goods but at the expense of that fast flowing passing game that has yielded so well this season as you did point out. Wenger might just have to take a simple decision. Sanchez back as false 9, Giroud as plan B.

    One good thing Sanchez as false 9 has already done is that it has primed Ozil for running off A the shoulders of defenders irrespective of whether Sanchez is at # 9 or not. His goal last night (very Kanuesque) is testimony to that.

    Cover for our right back looks like the only weak link in our squad. Jenkinson appears still a long way off. Gabriel appears to me a better option there. He played there a number of times in the la Liga. South America football culture shapes players to be able to perform in different positions.

    I like Elneny. To me his stock has risen higher than Xhaka’s whose timing of tackles seem clumsy.

  • A lucky win for Arsenal. The Gunners seemed to lack a coherent attacking strategy. After Ozil’s left wing cross for Xhaka’s goal and Giroud’s goal from Ramsey’s right wing cross, I was hoping Arsenal would learn from how they where able to create those goals with Giroud as the centre forward and accordingly move Ozil to the left wing, Alexis to the right wing and Ramsey into the central attacking midfield role to better capitalise on Giroud’s aeriel strength with an increased number of accurate crosses. But it wasn’t to be. Magic goal by Ozil at the death to secure the win though.

    Defensively I thought Xhaka was terrible and Coquelin, Kosicelny and Mustafi were too passive and needed to be more aggressive in their approach. That said I can’t fault Coquelin’s defensive positioning which was reflected in his 5 interceptions for the match. Of all of Arsenal’s defensive players Jenkinson was the most productive for me with 3 tackles and 4 interceptions.

    Overall not a great performance by a number of Arsenal’s players but a win is a win. I’m just hoping Wenger’s decision to play Alexis for a second time in 5 days doesn’t come back to bite when they take on Spurs on the weekend.

  • Ko Henry,

    I feel that Giroud up top exposes a very static attack, but I have yet to watch the game to comment on anything.

    On the whole dynamics of the team, with minor changes from the team that played on Wednesday, and without any changes to the core except for Xhaka, we were quite good except that with Xhaka we should have defended better.

    I should write more when I caught the full game, but by then Gerry and PE will have wrote what I wanted to write. Oh well..


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