Perez CF, Rambo nr10, Ox/Iwobi on wings and Xhaka/Elneny DMs: Wenger to go out with Four Cups!

Will this be Arsene’s last season or not? This, my friends, is the big question. As the malaise at Old Toilet has shown us in recent years, a well-established and successful manager is very hard to replace. Change is not always bad, but successfully replacing a man who led the club in every sense except in financial terms is a very hard thing to do. Wenger has assembled a strong team that can win a lot… maybe even all four cups available. Can you imagine Wenger leaving the club holding four cups above his red and white shoulders? I kind of can and what a reward that would be for him!

The Saints are visiting and, as we have already played them at THOF, we know how good they are. They will be well up for this as winning the League Cup is a straight ticket to European football. Claude Puel has impressed me with his tactics and team set-up and he is the kind of guy who could one day manage our club; he is French after all πŸ™‚

There is no doubt Puel will select his best players for this encounter and Wenger, who, I believe, fancies winning this cup for the first time in what could be his final season, will also field a strong team: a team that has the right attitude and quality to win the match. Alexis needs a break and Koz and Mustafi could do with one too, but other than those I can see Arsene considering all the other players.

My predicted Line-Up for tonight’s game is:

football formation

I reckon Holding and Gabriel will be the CB pairing and Jenkinson and Gibbs the FBs. Elneny and Xhaka deserve another game together to further gel and provide a strong base against the very strong midfield of the Saints. Rambo in the hole and the apparently recovered Perez up-front with Ox and Iwobi on the wings. Wenger may try a youngster on the wings instead of the Ox but I am going for the player who is improving gradually and who could really do with a goal to boost his confidence further. I believe this team will play good, typical-Arsenal football but it remains to be seen whether they haveΒ the quality to finish their chances. For that, Arsene may need to add either Alexis or Theo during the later stages of the game.

Enjoy the game FFGs – Come on You Rip Roaring Gunners!! πŸ™‚

By TotalArsenal

The blog sabbatical continues and this is just a one-off post; next post will be up on 27 December.


42 thoughts on “Perez CF, Rambo nr10, Ox/Iwobi on wings and Xhaka/Elneny DMs: Wenger to go out with Four Cups!

  • Hehehe! Much better to have comments related to the topic, for a change.

    Like your team selection except for a repeat of the Xhaka-Elneny partnership and the start for Perez. Coq is likely to be in there, especially as he didn’t play last Sunday; also, not being sure how fit Perez is after a month out, it isn’t Wenger’s style to throw such a player in to start in such a game, unless we absolutely want to protect Alexis, Theo and Giroud (who is out of it, anyway). Wenger said he actually recommended Southampton to Puel, which means the Saints manager will be seeking to have a right go (as is the thing with human nature). Let’s hope we send out a team that will give it everything to win it.

  • On the subject of Arsene Wenger, don’t you think if he won 4 Cups that they would reward him with a two year extension?
    Now whether he would want to carry on or go out on a high would be his decision. I think the BoD will only insist when a very good options becomes available.

    On that note….
    I did see that the young Leipszig manager was mentioned in connection with the post-AW vacancy. I caught a bit of their game on Friday, and they are spectacular to watch. I urge anybody who has not seen them and can get it on their broadband to do so. They are being likened to Leicester because they have gone from promotion to top of the Bundesliga. No mean feat in itself. But in style of play they are much more our latest incarnation, with quick passing from back to front, and fluid interchange along the way. More than that, us at our smooth and fastest best … on steroids!
    On that basis alone he would get my vote when the time comes, naturally. However, we will not be the only ones in the queue?

    On your team selection TA, you are a bit like AW, in order to fit Ramsey into the side, you are resting Ozil too?
    I am not saying that is necessarily a bad thing, but I think Coquelin Xhaka would give more security at the back, much as I liked the Elneny pairing.
    Like Goonereris has said, I think Perez will get minutes from the bench, and Alexis will more than likely start. AW just cannot keep him down … until he sends him home on a mid-season break.

    I have to catch up on the latest news before committing to my starting 11, but if Giroud is out then Mavididi is my idea for the 2nd strike option. Leave Ox for the super sub role?

    Cheers, and thanks for the mini post.

  • Well having read what is on, the picture is a little clearer … I think?

    I also watched ‘The Breakdown’ which headlined the Xhaka Elneny axis as being the bedrock of our change in fortunes, turning a draw into a win. Which is where I started my review on the previous post.
    It is for that reason I think your midfield choice TA will continue, but for continued success, I only see Ramsey on the bench.

    High praise from AW for Gibbs too, so that is left back taken care of.

    90% first team, but a mixture of youth and experience, is another quote, and support for Jenks, so that is RB taken care of too. Not quite so certain on the Holding Gabriel pair at CB. He may just play Kos this time, and Mustafi and Gabriel at the weekend?

    Up front the picture is a little clearer in the absence of Giroud, as I would take Alexis and Iwobi as a given, with multiple options on the right side. I don’t see Ox starting as he put a lot into Sunday’s game and may be asked to repeat it next weekend?. I also think he would rather play Perez in the middle, as well manage his minutes after a longish injury break. Theo also did a lot of running against Bournemouth, but apparently his wife will buy him a coffee machine if he scores 10, so he will be keen …. as long as the Mrs Walcott was referring to his on-field performance? πŸ˜€
    That aside, I think he might get the nod, leaving Mavididi to get the 65th minute call with Perez?

    So that only leaves the question … Ozil, or not Ozil?

    I think he will start. But who, apart from Holding counts as Youth?

    I think it will be Theo who steps aside for Mavididi for the near perfect 10%.

    My team is this;
    Gibbs, Holding, Gabriel, Jenkinson.
    Xhaka, Elneny
    Iwobi, Ozil, Mavididi.
    Bench: Macey; Monreal, Ramsey, Coquelin, Jeff R-A, M-Niles, Perez.


  • Gerry, Wenger decides whether he will stay or not, regardless of the number of cups he wins this season. The BoD know they have the best manager for their operating model.

  • Hi TA, glad to have you back at it even if it’s just a one-off…

    Here are the line-ups; it looks like you got 9 out of 11, not bad… Le Coq instead of Xhaka and JRA instead of the Ox…

    Arsenal: Martinez, Jenkinson, Gabriel, Holding, Gibbs, Coquelin, Elneny, Reine-Adelaide, Ramsey, Iwobi, Lucas Perez. Subs: Oxlade-Chamberlain, Xhaka, Bielik, Bola, Macey, Maitland-Niles, Mavididi.

    Southampton: Forster, Martina, Yoshida, van Dijk, Bertrand, Reed, Clasie, Davis, Boufal, Long, McQueen. Subs: Cedric, Rodriguez, Ward-Prowse, Hojbjerg, Stephens, Sims, Lewis.

    My television doesn’t have the game live (replay, in Spanish, tomorrow afternoon) so I’m gonna try to stream it on ArsenalPlayer. Wish me luck.

  • I have been missing those Elneny curls; good to see you back here too, 17ho πŸ˜€βš½οΈ

    Real shame we cannot watch this life…. a fine line up!

  • Hi all.. I missed you all.. hehehe..
    TA.. you have a nose that as sharp as a dog.. Your team is always 90% correct..

    I love the way Wenger consistently favor the youngster to develop.. And I think we really having a great backup team this season.. I don’t matter to the players at all.. They all as good as our first team.. hehehehehe..

    I am hoping to see Xhaka actually, to see his golden kick again.. hehehe.. And for him to give a super long-pass ball.. But Elneny and Coquelin playing better as a partner than Xhaka-Elneny..
    Let’s hope Ramsey can lead our forward to victory.. Go Gunners..

  • Just look at MU starter.. Mou just can’t have a backup plan for this Cup.. They really are hunger for a win after a draw with the same team just a couple days ago.. hehehehehe..

  • I do believe AW has been bolder than even I thought he might be?
    Whilst I think he has picked he right player to replace Alexis, I worry about both the creativity and defence in midfield. I am not surprised that he has gone with Ramsey, but not for positive reasons. Unless he is really really disciplined, I fear the worst. At least it might rule him out of the West Ham game when we revert to our best team ☺
    Will he sub early, that is another question.
    Not confident, but I’ll listen to it now and watch it in the morning, so no early post match comments from me …. not even a ‘I told you so’ ha ha.

  • Cheers, TA on the 90% callπŸ˜„.

    Couldn’t get to see the game as I had some distraction. That didn’t go too well then, did it? What went wrong? I would have thought the line up good enough for a win.

  • Yes a disappointment. Didn’t see the game but it sounded like we could not create chances and were undisciplined at the back. At least Ozil, Theo and Alexis got a rest.

  • Such a shame. I have it recorded and shall endeavour to watch it, for the heck of it (I had looked forward to reviewing a victory). Maybe, too many changes at the back will have disrupted the fluidity to be expected of the team. It would have been nice to get a chance to go to Wembley.

  • Hey Everyone,
    I woke up at 1 am to see the match but within minutes I turned off the TV and went back to sleep(mostly because I couldn’t waste time as I have exams today).
    The only positive from yesterday was that we could rest some of our players.
    Before the start of the season or even at the start, we thought Elneny would hardly get any matches this season but here we are with him playing every match.
    It’s unusual for an Arsenal side to have the only problem to be in midfield (that’s where I feel we are losing). We rely so heavily on a 31 year old who’s contract will be over by the end of the season and who also missed majority of last season.

    I can’t see any solution (maybe bring back Jack :-P)

  • Luckily I didn’t watch it (I was watching the chess instead, which was way more exciting!) but we look a bit out of sorts at the moment and somehow need to rediscover our balance and form. To me the only way to get back into good form is to play through the bad patches until things just click into place again, and it will come.

    Positives are that we came through November undefeated except for the EFL Cup, we’re well within range of the top of the league and we’re through to the Champions League knockout round. Not much more we could ask for, is there? I think AW will continue to test his midfield combinations over the next few weeks, aiming to peak for the game at Man City just before Christmas. We should be fine for that one, now that Alexis is firing again and Theo’s back amongst the goals. Yes we miss Hector’s attacks down the right quite a lot, but he’s back in the new year, and we also need to figure out our best partner for Coquelin in the next few weeks. I’d like to see Zelalem tried there o be honest, as he has the same close control and ball-passing ability as Santi..

    Will this be Arsene’s last season? Only if we drop out of Champions League qualification, which is of course unlikely. But in truth we actually have a good chance to with the Premier League this year, and maybe one or two other trophies. We’ve had a streak of lucky decisions for once, and just completed our first unbeaten November for many a premier league season, so the signs are all good!

  • Hi all..
    A bad game.. yes.. but it’s November the last guys.. You know what I mean.. We never lost in this November Rain untill last night.. hehehe.. So let’s welcoming December..

    We never rate this Cup as a success don’t we..?? PL and CL is our main target.. FA will be a bonus.. So keep our energy and spirit focus..

  • Jenkinson is far from a talented footballer but but has been able to get bye by compensating with a lot of commitment and endeavor. Last night there was no endeavor, no commitment and he stood stark for what he really is, a non footballer.

    Ramsey was disappointing. His endeavor cannot be questioned but he is a tard too slow and his inability to keep it simple and flowing detracts from the great player he ought to be.

    Once Gibbs cuts infield he must pass backwards because he can neither use his right foot nor the outside of his leftfoot. This restricts his game so much that some promising offensive options are often lost. After all these years no point hoping that he can expand his game.

    Iwobi stood out in a positive sense. He played with a lot of authority, still he has that one weakness that when he gets to critical areas (the box) his confidence deserts him and all the brilliance virtually comes to nought. I wonder if the coaching crew can help him there.

    Our loss should not give us too much pain. It came out of a well calculated risk by Wenger, bearing in mind our desired fortune in the other competitions. W Ham next.

  • My comment will come much later in the day as it seems Sky are late in releasing their permission.
    No ‘Player action. No comment from me.

    PE, Jenks may not be top drawer, and he is certainly not Bellerin, but a little OTT with your words about being a non-footballer I think?
    Just because he did not rise to your expectations ….


  • Disappointing performance by the Gunners versus Southampton.

    Defensively, Gabriel, Coquelin and Iwobi were the best of the bunch. That said the whole backline lacked aggression and that allowed Southampton to create opportunities. Gibbs was particularly quiet.

    Offensively, I thought Arsenal lacked movement in and around the 18 yard box and the wing duo of Iwobi and Adelaide played too centrally and close to Ramsey, in the No 10 role, to stretch Southampton’s defence and create openings. All of the above left Perez isolated upfront. That said, I thought Iwobi was good when on the ball and outperformed both Ramsey and Adelaide in that No 10 role, at least creatively.

    I thought Arsenal look their most threatening when Ox and Maitland- Niles came on in the RW and RB positions respectively and started whipping crosses into the box. That said, I thought they missed Giroud’s aerial presence, which doesn’t really appear to be a strength of Perez’s.

    On the plus side, like TA said, Alexis, Ozil and Walcott all got a rest along with Mustafi and Koscienly.

    Not too fussed about the EFL Cup TBH. The Premier League should be Arsenal’s priority in my opinion.

  • Good comments guys. What shines through every season is how little Wenger seems to care about this competition, which rubs off on the players. Not having to play two legs in January is of course bliss, especially as our opponents would have been Pool, with possibly Manure in the final.

    Not a good game for the confidence of a number of players, though, and I feel sorry for those who went to the game. We need a top team performance this weekend; time to put some 🌢 🌢 up their arses! 😳⚽️

  • TA, I am into chess, and I really really liked the penalty shoot-out between Carlsen and karjakin. Are you a player or admirer of the other beautiful game too?

  • davyx2, good to hear it. I used to play a lot of chess in my mid-teens and play a game occasionally. If you want we can play a game of email chess in the new year (when I hope to have a bit more time…)? πŸ™‚

  • Sounds good! I also used to play a lot in my teens (when I should have been studying) and I was a much better player back then too.

  • Yesterday morning on the ’24 Hour News’ they had a guest on reviewing the papers, and he is one of the most opinionated of all their guests. Believe me, I would not get beyond the ‘shy, retiring’ type if he was at the top of the scale πŸ˜€
    Anyway, he briefly hit a different tone when talking about the news coverage of the Brazilian footballer’s plane crash. He, being a holder of a pilot’s licence, said he would not join the rush to blame the pilot because he knows that when it comes to flying a plane there are warning devices that give signals that tell you when something is going wrong.
    ‘The trouble is’ he said, ‘When things go wrong, people look to blame someone. It is human nature’

    That is my starting point of my review of the EFL Cup game.

    There was a collective failure in so many facets of that performance, that is totally unfair to point the finger at any one player and say ‘Replace him and we would have won easily’.
    Too simplistic.
    Not only that, there were some individuals that came out of the game deserving of praise.

    For others, the game could have been a showcase for them to show just how good they are … if the collective had been set up to work effectively. The greater part of this collective failure was in the making with the 10 changes to the team that played 4 days earlier. Unfortunately, the sole survivor, Elneny, we found out afterwards, had been sick before the game and eventually had to come off. Knowing that when watching the replay, I saw him glance at the bench after 30 minutes. He just had a chase back, pulled the guy’s shirt and got booked. It then explained why he was been pretty passive from the start?
    But the difference between the weekend pairing and this one was there for all to see. There was no unity or understanding. Yes, they covered for each other, but they did not work together at any point, the way Elneny had with Xhaka. Even if he had been fit, Elneny would have found it hard, as he likes to play quick one-two’s as he moves up field. Illness just compounded that.
    And we are talking about a key area here. And one that allowed Southampton to have dominance for the whole of the first half, which impacted on the performance elsewhere.

    In almost every department, the players on show were much more capable than they were able to show in this game.
    Perez, isolated for the most part. Wasted opportunity.
    Ramsey I thought did a lot better than I was expecting, and showed enough to say that ‘floating role’ is by far his best position. But he is not Ozil, and without a creative player providing openings, it remains a problem for him. Wasted opportunity.
    Reine Adelaide. Not only starting in a strange position, too much was demanded of him to create anything, when there were not enough players around him to pull defenders away with there movement. Too much for an 18 year old to carry off. But if he was replacing Alexis, which I believe he was, at least allow him to find his feet in that same position, left of centre. Wasted opportunity.
    Jenkinson I thought had a goodish game on a night where we had little control of our tacttcs and general play. He made some good interceptions, but found it hard to get forward because of the strength in numbers against him. One of those turn overs led to their first goal. Natural scapegoat, but very unfair. In the second half he pressed higher up the pitch and looked more threatening. But that also coincided with the forced change in midfield. He should not take his late replacement as a dent to his confidence. Difficult task, but it would have been easier if 9 of the outfield players were regulars?
    Holding too has similar claims to Jenks and Jeff R-A, in that if played with a strong team around him, his game would not have come under that much pressure. Not a showcase game for him either.
    Gibbs as captain, struggled to have any impact on this mismatch of players, and his forward play suffered because the normal fluid front line was none existent, and therefore difficult to overlap or interchange with a non existent wide player?

    Thank heaven for Iwobi.
    Ox will have been boosted by the cheer from the crowd when he came on. He instantly showed what was lacking in the way of pace and movement. Had one golden chance to make the game interesting, but snatched at his shot with the goalmouth there to be smashed through to the netting. Shame.
    M-Niles did his claims no harm either.
    Gabriel too, showed some good defensive work, and will be useful in the coming weeks.

    Overall I have just pointed out what was plain to see, but without the finger pointing.
    I am not even going to point the finger at AW for selecting the players the way he did. The cynic in me sees a similar approach taken in that infamous 8-2 beat by Man U, where he sent out a very weakened team full of academy prospects, and said ‘… go and show what you can do … meanwhile, I will go and chat to the BoD and see what they think, ahead of an important transfer window’?
    However, we should look forward to a refreshed team ready to play a talented, but not performing very well, West Ham side. The extra space that the Olympic stadium provides should suit us very well … if we play to our strengths.


  • Kev, I think Crowley has been on a downward spiral for a while.

    He clearly is very talented, but whether he is going through a teenage thing and getting distracted, or it is his style of play. A bit like Zelalem, before he went to Rangers, he needs to be the driver of the midfield, and when he isn’t, he can drift out of the game.
    Obviously Oxford are sending him back because they don’t feel confident about selecting him.

    While he was here and doing well, I know he said he felt homesick. But here he was in the same boat as lots of others, and he felt more secure with those around him. Whereas now, although nearer his Coventry home, it is not working out for him. It may also be the case that he needs better player around him to be able to influence the game around him?
    The trouble is, he is now in that higher age group, and life gets tougher from here on.

    Alas, he will not be the first, or the last to drift out of the game. Perhaps we should send him to the Cazorla school of mentoring and reignite his passion for the game?


  • Gerry, it was a disappointing performance against a very good, well organised, motivated Southampton. I missed the 1st half so can only judge on the 2nd 45. The young German fan, sitting next to me, whose hometown club is Hamburg SV, told me that we were awful in the 1st half, but I can’t comment.
    I thought that Holding looked a footballer, I do like that lad, he looks comfortable on the ball, I also thought that Iwobi did some good things, sadly no end product, but it will come.
    I’m a bit worried that Jenkinson could become the next target for the boo-boys, there seemed a general view that he isn’t up to the required standard. That may well be true, but it isn’t an excuse for giving him abuse…

    I don’t suppose that Arsene is too upset at missing out on two massive, strength-sapping cup-ties with Liverpool in January, he has bigger fish to fry…

  • I think that Crowley needs to stay at Arsenal, the Southampton game for example, would have concentrated his mind and we may have seen a performance from him if he had come off of the bench?

    Sending him out on loan to lesser teams seems to be counter-productive…
    I think that Jack Wilshere sees a kindred spirit in the lad and took him under his wing awhile back.

  • I think Crowley is a long way off a bench position Kiev. Not being ‘professional’ enough for Oxford Is not a very good recommendation is it?
    Sadly I think most of it is in his head.

    On our game, it was simply a case of us starting with the slow build up in transition. That stemmed almost entirely from the way the midfield was set up, and not helped by Elneny illness. This enabled Southampton to take charge.

    It will be different next time!


  • Ok, it is match day. Looking at the training photos, AW looks rather stern in the opener?

    Given the quotes on how we failed to start the last game at a quick tempo, I think a few names can be pencilled in to start this one with reasonable certainty?

    So this is how I see it shaping up:
    Alexis, Iwobi, and Walcott across the front.
    Ozil in the floating role
    Xhaka as the advanced midfield, in general, but working in tandem with …
    Coquelin. I’d like to see the Elneny pairing given a reprise, but unless Coquelin is at RB, I think AW will sacrifice him and his speed in transition for a hard tackler at the back.
    Monreal will be back in the LB role.
    Kos seemed absent in the photos, and it may be that AW is trying to give players a two game break?
    Therefore I suggest it will be Mustafi and Gabriel in the CB positions. No surprise if Gabby is back in the RB role, and Kos plays though.
    RB could go to Maitland-Niles, but away from home AW may just give Jenkinson another go, but he has got competition from the three I have named as alternatives? With Bellerin out for a while yet I think AW will be looking for a longer term solution. Therefore it is really down to Jenkinson and A M-N to see who can nail it. I believe Jenks will be expected to improve after a long lay off. If not ….
    Cech, barring warm up injury.

    There you have it. Open to a few changes, given the names left out. So the potential subs are: Gibbs (for Iwobi), (Ox for Walcott), A M-N (for Jenks). Ramsey kept back for the Basel match.
    Ospina, Holding (If Kos is not playing),, and Perez (if Giroud is also doubtful, and kept for Basel mid week).

    How the game will pan out … fast from the off!


  • I wonder that, if Wenger goes with Gabriel at right-back, that he has one eye on the aerial threat posed by Andy Carroll and wants more height in our box at corners and free kicks, because you can be sure that Bilic has that route of attack in mind.

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