Arsenal-Hull City: Tough Time to Take on the Tigers. Match Preview, Predicted Line-up

I don’t have the exact quote but Arsene Wenger has said something along the lines of, “Losing two matches is a crisis, three a disaster.”  Arsenal, perhaps already in crisis–or at least a repetition of past seasons’ disappointments–could be facing disaster as they take on Hull City in another Saturday lunch-time match.

A week featuring losses to lowly Watford (on our home pitch) and league leaders Chelsea have seen the high hopes of making up ground in the title race dashed.  Arsenal now sit 4th in the table amongst a group of five clubs separated by only 5 points.  Some are arguing that Wenger should now be more comfortable managing his club for another top 4 finish given that the leaders (12 points ahead) appear out of sight.  Even more cynical types would like to see Arsenal lose out on those Champion League places if it would mean the end of Wenger’s 20+ years in charge.  Dropping down (all the way to 10th last season) and getting a new manager hasn’t hurt Chelsea, has it?

Wenger, of course, takes pride in the consistency of his team and will know that the matches are played one at a time and that participation in the Champions League is the hallmark of any big club.  Righting the ship against Hull City is even more critical as the team travels in midweek to play the first leg of another Champions League round of 16 elimination against one of the giants of Europe: Bayern Munich.  Restoring a modicum of confidence is essential heading into that one.

Hull City, under new manager Marco Silva, will be looking at this match as another opportunity to take down a big club and grab a point (or three) in their ongoing battle to stave off relegation.  Despite beating Liverpool (2-nil) last weekend–and drawing nil-nil at Manchester United the week before–they are still sitting in 18th place on 20 points.  Three other clubs sit just a single point above them and Silva will sense a chance to gain more at the Emirates.  After all, he’s done it before, managing Greek club Olympiakos to a surprise 3-2 victory in Champions League group play back in the autumn of 2015.

In that match, Arsenal played with their “cup-keeper,” David Ospina, who had a very difficult outing.  Memories are short, however, and many are calling for Ospina to replace Petr Cech for the Hull match after Cech’s own howler last weekend.  His shanked kick allowed former Gunner Cesc Fabregas to score Chelsea’s 3rd, adding insult to injury.  That Ospina will likely start at Bayern and could use the game time to forge greater understanding with his outfield players is another strike against Cech.

Cech’s place isn’t the only one in question after the two losses.  Hector Bellerin may not be recovered from the concussion he sustained when assaulted by Marcos Alonso on Chelsea’s first goal.  Francis Coquelin, another player who many thought under-performed at Stamford Bridge, has a hamstring issue.  Luckily, Mohamed Elneny is back with the club.  Though surely disappointed that his goal vs Cameroon in the final of the African Cup of Nations wasn’t enough to see his country to victory, Elneny’s presence could be just what the beleaguered Arsenal midfield has been missing. He probably has to play and will likely be paired with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, one of the only senior midfielders not missing through injury or suspension.

The attacking positions offer some room for choice.  Alexis Sanchez appears to have joined Mesut Ozil as a lightning rod for criticism after an underwhelming performance at Chelsea.  Some Gooners are questioning both players and suggesting that they are merely going through the motions as they get closer and closer to the expiration of their current contracts.  Danny Welbeck and Lucas Perez, mostly used as substitutes in league matches thus far this season, might be ready for starts.  Then there are Alex Iwobi and Theo Walcott.  Both players started at Chelsea but also failed to make big impacts.  Finally, Olivier Giroud, who came on as a substitute and scored at Stamford Bridge, could be considered for restoration to the starting group.

These are critical choices for Wenger.  A win is imperative given the tightness of the league table and to restore the lost confidence from the last two games.  A little bit of rest–and perhaps a shake-up of the squad–ahead of the trip to Munich also seems essential.  This one is harder to call than most, but here is the group that I think will play.






Substitutes: Ospina, Holding,  Gibbs, Maitland-Niles, Iwobi, Walcott, Alexis

Hull, coming off the two clean sheets against the two big clubs, will surely set up to thwart us and strike on the counter.  With the apprehensive–if not downright hostile–atmosphere in our stadium, our team simply must get off on the front foot and score an early goal.  Keeping some of our more regularly starting attackers in reserve might allow a late chance to get us the needed result while still getting a bit of a rest ahead of the midweek CL showdown.

That’s just my best guess.  Who do you think the manager will play and what would you do if you were in charge?  Losing two on the trot tends to bring out those who believe they know better than the man in charge.  Have at it, I say, even though, of course, it’s Wenger who will have to make the final call.

As much as we’d like a match like Hull City–in our home stadium–to be a routine outing for the team, recent results should make us realize that there is no such thing.  Ahead of the Champions League elimination round AND locked in a pitched battle to get back to that tournament next season, nothing less than a win and a performance that indicates that the club belongs at that level will suffice.

Go on then…

109 thoughts on “Arsenal-Hull City: Tough Time to Take on the Tigers. Match Preview, Predicted Line-up

  • HT, you have masterfully echoed the voice of our fears and our hopes. What we have to learn is how to get to know how to deal with both.

    Wenger is not going to do any thing too radical like benching Cech for Ospina who is obviously so much better in distributing the ball with his feet (Wengerball). I believe Bellerin would not be risked, but would have been pencilled down for the Bayern encounter. I wouldn’t play Gabriel at RB. He offers nothing going forward and Hull is a game we would dominate offensively. The alternatives we have there are Debuchy, Jenkinson, Niles. I believe Niles would be on the bench for CMF, and the other two I haven’t got the slightest idea on what the situation with them is.

    If I was in charge, I’d play Kos and Holding in the CD, and shift Mustafi to RB. Musti loves straight-line attacking so adapting at RB should be easy for him.

    My line up:


    Narrow block defending does not provide Ozil with the space he needs at #10 so he should be shunted out wide. Sanchez is a good scorer of goals but blessed with the instincts of a creator far more than that of a striker. He is tailor made for a 2nd striker or #10.

    Wenger’s would be thinking of Hull only. Atm, Bayern can wait.

  • For now, I will only wait for what Wenger has to do: Bring on some changes, or play the exact same team?

    Somehow I wanted to say something about the lineup, but it does not make sense if we try to guess what Wenger has in mind and then we see a different lineup for some positions that we think that it needs to be changed.

    Nothing on you 17ht, but I think we should just wait and see.

    In my last few posts I mentioned about what Hull can do to us if our defense is out of place. 2-0 at home against Liv is nothing one off, as they are able to do that.

    Let’s hope we do not do a Liv.


  • Hull city is a study in the benefits of a new manager’s influence at a struggling side. It is a game that won’t be easy at all, seeing how confident they will be after taking 4 points from 2 top sides in United and Liverpool. The players have periods when they knock the ball about with such ease, Tom Huddleston being at the base of their clean passing game; by now, they will believe in what the manager is doing and feel they can get something here. So, whatever team we put out has to be designed to discourage them early; of course, the team sheet will also have the midweek CL game in view.

    I think if either of Jenks or Debuchy is ready, the manager will start the one, otherwise, it is Gabriel to start, allowing full recovery for Bellerin for Munich. Other than at right back and a suspicion that Theo may start (for Danny, who is still feeling his way back with Bayern to come), I agree with the predicted team sheet put up by 17ht. We would need Ozil to do a bit more to disrupt Huddleston’s passing from deep and I believe Welbeck’s presence will put their defence under enough pressure to get us an early goal. Alexis should come on late just to keep fitness assured for the CL game.

    It is going to be a tense few games for the team now, but nothing belief, focus and a bit of luck can’t overcome.

  • Off topic (copied from last thread).

    Reading from various football news sites, I sense that the natives are restless and there is a foreboding of a toxic situation at the Emirates this Saturday as the club engages Hull city. Some elements of the fan base plan some kind of protest move, ranging from boycott to waving white handkerchiefs at the 13th minute; or simply leaving the stadium by the 13th minute (13, being the number of years it may end up being since Arsenal last won the EPL). There is an argument for whatever protest move agreed to be carried out by the 8th minute (for how much, in ‘£m that Wenger gets paid per year).

    Whatever the misgivings, I find it hard to take in the fact that fans of the club can carry out actions which may put the nail in the coffin for whatever hopes we may harbour for a good season. The hatred for the manager is so extreme you get sentiments to the effect that some wish the club finishes outside the top 4, in the hope it gets Wenger sacked. How can fans of the club wish the club to lose? Isn’t it the joy of competition that keeps us happy, in the end? Already, the Emirates is not a fortress for the boys because of the indifference of the fans, so, my feeling is this will only go to worsen the incidence of nerves in the players and staff.

    My view is the board pays the man and, for now, find him the best man for the job; if his employers believe in him, I am not sure the protest of fans would result in his sack (who does that anyway?), which will further cause a bigger rift between these fans and the club. The club is for the fans but, it is owned by one man and controlled by men who have been entrusted with the vision for the club. The club has been making progress, if slow, coming from the austere years, winning the FA cup, back to back and finishing progressively higher on the league table in the last 3 years. Perhaps, that had given the hope that we were due to win it in 2016/17, especially since lowly Leicester won it last season (that must be the crux of the matter seeing as it made nonsense of the myth about the influence of money to win it). It is just February and there is nothing to suggest Chelsea have definitely won it because there are 14 games to go. Any team in the top 5 can still go on a run and shock the league leaders. Why some of the fan base are willing to give all that up and disrupt the flow of things I’d never know. We may not win it, but as long as there is a mathematical chance, the fans should give the team their all and push them as far as possible.

    Any attempt to embarrass the boss is an ill wind that blows no good.

  • Excellent ‘in the moment’ writing, 17HT. You reflect reality so well in all of your posts: they are neither overly hopeful nor too dooming, but just describe very well the key things happening in and around our club and the actual challenges our team are facing. Love it.

    Also love the line-up, except for the one… and you know who I mean. Is le Coq injured?

  • Hoping to see Arsenal learn from the mistakes they’ve made in recent losses to Watford and Chelsea and the unconvincing performances they’ve displayed since the loss to Everton back in December. By this I mean:

    – Arsenal’s central midfield and defensive line should sit deeper to show greater respect to the defensive side of the game
    – Arsenal should play an extra man in central midfield to account for the fact that Arsenal’s squad lacks midfield options with sufficient defensive resolve and transitional skills (e.g. Wanyama and Dembele or Matic and Kante) to accomodate a central defensive midfield duo.
    – Irrespective of the chosen centre forward (i.e. Giroud or Alexix) Arsenal should seek to play more on the counterattack to give their forward line the space it needs to create clearer goal scoring opportunities.
    – Whichever centre forward option Arsenal select, Arsenal need to pick complimentary wingers and fullbacks whose strengths accentuates the strengths of the chosen centre forward.

    With all of that said, the starting line up I would like to see versus Hull is:

    GK: Cech
    RB: Debuchy
    CB: Mustafi
    CB: Koscielny
    LB: Monreal
    LCDM: Elneny
    CDM: Coquelin
    RCDM: Ox
    RW: Alexis
    CF: Perez
    LW: Ozil

    In that setup I’m envisaging:

    – Alexis and Ozil taking turns coming in off their flank and dropping into the No 10 role when Arsenal attack, with the other winger moving centrally to playing alongside Perez as a strike duo and that duo making off the ball runs behind the opposition’s defensive line for the winger who has assumed the No 10 role to target
    – the back seven keep it nice and simple by focusing on maintaining their defensive structure and shape, staying compact, tackling and intercepting and Ox and Elneny being the transitional outlets.

  • There is always something to play for
    The championship, top four, pride
    This afternoon’s atmosphere
    As electric as ever


    A future double pivot pairing of Niles and Oxlade excites me. Both have acceleration, pace and power, important ingredients particularly in the defensive phase of midfield action a-la N’golo Kante. That area of the field should be a true engine room.

  • Have to say I find the selection a little disappointing. Players who haven’t been given a chance, Wellbeck, Lucas etc are overlooked and with the exception of Gibbs, it’s the Chelsea team isn’t it?

  • Very correct, Retsub1. It is the Chelsea team bar 1. Maybe, the manager is giving them a chance to right the wrongs of that game; maybe, he wants a bit of pace upfront or wishes to rest up Monreal, Danny and Elneny for the midweek game, who knows?

    The thing is any 11 we put out, with the right instructions should be able to take on Hull city. I would have liked to see Elneny and have one of Alexis and Ozil rested. COYG!

  • Good morning people… The espresso machine was on and it has produced…Can this (barely changed) team do the same? Shows what I know,,,I got only 5 of 11 (13 of 18) correct…

    We have kickoff…

  • We got the goal even if it was a series of fortunate bounces, including the one off a hand…

  • Even with my best rosy tinted glasses on, that had to be handball by Alexis. That is exactly your type of goal that Chelsea score against us. I would have been pretty annoyed if it had been scored against us.

  • We needed that goal last week Retsub, still I’d take a couple of them in Munich for the good guys.

  • Oh me to Kev. I am still seething about Chelseas first goal last week. In the spirit of fairness I like to try to see it from the other teams point of view. We need to take whatever we are given to get confidence up. Ok isn’t having a bad game.

    Lots of times we are reaching their goal line and putting dinky little crosses in. Seems a little pointless without Mr Giroud being there.

  • Indeed, we’re very fortunate they allowed the goal…Also pretty fortunate that Hull haven’t put one in ours from one of their many nice forward runs and balls across our back line. To me there’s very little control in our MF play but we’ve managed to get the ball forward ourselves and made a few chances. It’s all very scrappy (just like the goal…) so I’d say we need at least one more…

  • I’m a bit surprised that Welbeck didn’t start Retsub, I guess he has Bayern on his mind, but we need a win, we don’t want to be going to Germany on the back of another poor result.

    The League has slipped away, but there’s still two competitions for us to go for.
    As it stands I’d take the FACup now if you offered it to me.

  • The head of the PGMOL (the Ref body), Dermot Gallagher, was immediately asked about the goal and he has responded that it wasn’t hand to ball but more ball to hand and so, is a goal. Alexis hands were deemed in a natural position for the activity he was undertaking at the time and didn’t intend to handle the ball. In any case, I will take that all day long.

  • All considered (2 poor results back to back, fans unrest, media blitz), we have played well even though, we had a couple of chances we should otherwise have taken, but for the early nerves. It is a bit scrappy, indeed, but that’s what you get when a team is trying hard to please the fans again. With Xhaka and Elneny to return, we should soon get back some midfield control.

    I really would have liked to see how Lucas handles a game like this and to be honest, I cannot see how he does much worse than Theo, who should have been rested for the CL in my view, unless he isn’t to start in Munich. With all the balls being put into their box, anyone else think Giroud won’t be slotting in one of those? He and Welbeck to come on in the 2nd half, plus a run out for Elneny.

  • Arsenal slow coming out of the tunnel for the 2nd half…

    The Ox is working hard in his deep lying spot but his decision making still lacks, IMO…see for example his choice there to shoot from 30 yards after a good forward run… He did have a good 1-2 with Bellerin that Hector hit wide… Looks like Coquelin, who has been a step slow all day, might be hurt… Elneny might need to come on

  • Another important save from Cech after Hull break on us very easily… Definitely gonna need that 2nd goal, I fear…

  • Things are heating up…Ox and Theo manhandled at one end and complaining about it… Gibbs, last man back fouls Markovic but “only” gets a yellow…

    Game’s a bit open for my taste…

  • Hull make a change in attack…they fancy this… (And why not?…)

    Iwobi shoots over but there was a bit of nice work between him and Ozil… Full field run by the Ox and it’s not his final ball that kills it… Ozil’s instead…

    Very end to end with replays obscuring another good Hull move…

  • Would have loved your suggested Lineup, 17. Perez and Welbeck need game time and our general play needs them.

    So frustrating to see Sanchez killing our attack time and time again. Impressed by Ox today, however. Lets grab another one… or two

  • Hull make a 2nd sub… Elmohamedy is a good attacking fullback, IMO…

    Better attacking play down in the final third but no way through… Ozil too long for Alexis with his pass…

    Theo out, Elneny on…

  • Hey Frozen… How’s the weather? It rained all week before a couple of inches of heavy snow just like up your way… At least half our snowpack got washed away

    Arsenal get a corner but Mustafi heads over Ozil’s delivery…

    Agreed that Alexis does make his share of giveaways…

    Ozil makes one there (in our half) and Le Coq is whistled trying to win it back. Hull FK is headed out, thankfully…

  • Alexis booked for diving… Iwobi got him the ball in a good spot… Ozil offside for Ox’s long bal…l

  • Hull will make their final change….Huddlestone off for another attacker…

    We’re hanging on but they are getting crosses in and now a corner… Side netting only…

  • It’s been strange– enjoyed a mini winter storm earlier in the week, basically sending the county into a state of emergency because nobody knows how to drive in the (insert preferred expletive) snow around these parts. Then came the rain and were back to square one like it never happened!

    Glad to see Welbz and Lucas come on

  • Lucas and DW on, Iwobi and Ox off…

    Gibbs gives up a foul and FK in a good area for Hull…

    We defend it but they’re on the front foot… Another FK is only a looping header to Cech…

    How about a little possession down their end… Nope… Ozil first touch is out of play on a nice pass from Alexis…

  • Welbz iffy trying to defend gives up a corner… Luckily the freeish header is well over…

    Still just hanging on…Cannot keep the ball for any stretch…

    Slightly better with some work from Lucas down the left…

  • 90th minute, 4 mins extra time coming…

    Another Hull corner conceded…but again we manage to defend and break…

    Keeper comes out and Alexis gets the ball onto Lucas’ head. HANDBALL to keep it out…

  • Alexis to take the pen… but Hull have a player down injured…

    I don’t want to speak too soon but we may escape with the points here today

  • 2 nil…just snuck it under the keeper’s hand who may have been standing to avoid the panenka…

  • Full time… The scoreline works… Not sure how we can give Bayern a game w/o a midfield, however…

    Sorry, I don’t mean to be glum but that seemed very iffy to me…

  • Apparently Bayern Munich haven’t been on top form since they came back from their mid-season break, but I bet they’re flying when we visit…

    Get a draw in Munich and that’ll be the result of our season so far imo.

  • Well we needed the win, but the performance was fair to mediocre. Little disappointed to see the Ox substituted, to my mind he was our best player by a country mile. Ozil was by his standards poor and Coquelin just look off the pace to me. Lucas once again came on and made a difference. When is this guy going to be given a fair chance?

  • Maybe I’m a nervous nelly at this time of the morning with just my espresso(s) in me but Hull had sooo many crosses with heads nearly getting to them. Maybe that’s the plan (and we didn’t really allow much for them along the floor), but it was heart in mouth for me. We broke forward ourselves quite a bit so maybe that’s the idea with having Alexis up front and long balls forward from guys like the Ox and Ozil. I much prefer a game with more control (in MF) and sustained possession. Maybe it’s just not possible with the players at hand and we have to play a chancier sort of football.

    Curious what others think…

  • Hard to say re Lucas. There was a moment where the camera panned in on Wenger’s reaction to an Iwobi chance and I can’t remember the last time I saw him in such visible agony. The man is desperate for his boy to make it.

  • Iwobi’s finishing can only improve over time… For one so young he holds the ball up quite well and makes a lot of well weighted passes, including ones that put his teammates in scoring positions. Compared with Theo’s one (or two) touch(es) and done I can see young Alex keeping his place. In MF (for midweek) does Xhaka (and maybe Elneny) come back in? At this point I have no idea what AW is imagining…

  • Frozen, I’d say the manager just needed any “boy” to get the second goal to make it safe. Lol.

    That was really heart in mouth stuff, to be honest. I am not as concerned because with the position of Hull city in the table, most teams will have to scrape for a win over this lot. I rather like the fact that we could mix it with them. If we had as much fight (bar the defending) against Watford or Chelsea, we wouldn’t have come off those games empty handed.

    Let’s hope we have a plan for the midweek game then.

  • Agreed. He seems to be doing all the right things, coupled with what looks to be an outstanding attitude and maturity for such a young player.

    The other flank is where I’m far more concerned. What did Theo offer today? Had this been the beginning of the season, he probably would’ve scored and kept his place for the next match. I don’t mean to single Theo out, as there’s a number of underperforming starters at the moment, but only to further discussion of who gets dropped so that Lucas can get some games.

  • Ha, fair enough. I believe this was in the first half when we were still level, but I suppose that doesn’t make much of a difference. I’ll try to find a clip of it.. some good stuff

  • I have long stopped questioning the continued inclusion of Theo and started to look out for the positives he brings to the team. I can only think that he manages to keep the opposition Full back penned back owing to the threat of his pace and tends to be more involved in the defensive side of things.

    Perez brings more; only Wenger can answer the question of Theo Walcott.

    And yeah, 17ht. The keeper had stood tall, awaiting a shot straight down centre and was almost rewarded, but for the pace on that penalty kick. I guess Alexis has to do some extra training on how to vary his shots.

  • Frozen says:
    February 11, 2017 at 14:59
    Ha, fair enough. I believe this was in the first half when we were still level, but I suppose that doesn’t make much of a difference. I’ll try to find a clip of it.. some good stuff.

    Oh? Wasn’t sure the particular incident/goal chance. But, you can understand the manager’s anxiety then. 😆

  • Not seen the game, but very pleased with all three points. Good news is that there are no added injuries AND we have Xhaka and Elneny to refresh the midfield against Bayern. We can put up a very strong team and bench on Wednesday, which is getting me v excited. Rock on boys!

  • Indeed, TA, the result was good…As are no new injuries…Le Coq stayed down for a bit but then maybe realized he might not get his place back if he took a sub…He looked fine for the remainder… That said, on the balance of what I saw from our MF, I’d swap him and the Ox (who played pretty well, in fact) for Elneny and Xhaka… It was just somewhat shocking how content we were to give Hull the ball and play on the break, i.e., bypass MF possession… A 1-nil lead in a match that is a must-win feels like a very slim margin…

    Maybe it’s a good tactic for Bayern away, however. Truth be told, I can’t figure out what AW is thinking for that one (in terms of who plays)… I’m very surprised, for example that Giroud didn’t feature at all today…

    ManUre takes care of Watford at home to stay in the top 4 mix… Watford started well but then it was mostly United…Both teams maybe should’ve scored more in my (distracted) view… Both keepers made some nice saves… Now onto Pool-Spurs…

  • I think it would be counter productive to drop the Ox after his displays in the past few games. He is finally showing the promise that we all knew he had. I would far rather trust the Ox in Germany than Xhaka who hasn’t yet demonstrated the big game temperament. Personally I would leave Ozil out as well, he has gone missing for the past few games and needs to demonstrate some form to warrant a place.

  • From the radio commentary I got that our midfield was not good, which didn’t surprise me. Against Bayern we need a solid wall in front of our back four and Xhaka or Coq with Elneny seems the way to go. If we do not sort this out we will get well spanked on Wednesday. Xhaka will be very eager to make good and of course knows Bayern well from his time in Germany. Same goes for Mesut, who never plays a bad game imo.

  • Ospina
    Bel – Must – Koz – Nacho
    ——– Xhaka – Elneny——-
    Perez —– Ozil ——– Danny
    ———–Alexis —————–

    Ox, Walcott, Giroud, Iwobi to pick from from the bench

  • With the greatest respect T A , Ozil didn’t turn up last week and he wasn’t any better today. I don’t doubt he is our most skillfull player, but he is playing on reputation alone at the moment.

    By Wengers own admission, Xhaka doesnt know how to tackle, which is a litttle surprising for him to say given how much he spent on him.

    To my mind if we want to get a result in Germany we need players who will give their all. Unfortunately Coquelin is giving his all, but his passing has been pretty shoddy lately.

    Not sure I know the answer but I firmly believe the Od is part of it . As for Ozil I doubt Wenger willl ever drop him, but he is not pulling his weight at the moment.

  • Depending on the objective in Munich – play for minimal damage and get something back to the emirates, or try to outscore the hosts – , I will rather have Gabriel on to defend against Ribery and/or Douglas Costa. Midfield to have all of Xhaka, Elneny and the Ox, while the forwards should have bot speed and strength: Welbeck, Giroud and Alexis. So, no Ozil.

    I can’t bet on the manager dropping Ozil, but you can imagine it would equally surprise Bayern. Our midfield will have some fight and guile in Ox and Xhaka’s range of passing, while Elneny can keep things ticking over and be deployed to press Aturo Vidal. We have to think defense for much of this one, unfortunately.

  • Pool beat Spurs meaning 2nd through 6th are all covered by just two points in the table, ManCity have the game in hand however… (Go Bournemouth…)

    I think both TA and Wenger will see things differently, retsub, (as do I…) but different opinions are what make the world go round–and goonereris seems to agree with you about dropping Ozil.

    I agree that Wenger–under the pressure he’s under–will go for reputation. Dropping (approx.) 75 million pounds worth of players (Ozil=40, Xhaka=35) I just don’t see happening for the big European match…

    I’m with TA re: Ozil. To me he’s always doing his best to make good things happen in and around the box. He blew that very good volley chance today, however, and he lets his head hang when things don’t come off more than he should… Again, different strokes…

    IMO, the Ox has always been a great talent with a lot of tricks in his bag…His first touch can be as good as anybody’s, he can take on defenders 1v1 with the ball, and, with these recent few matches at DM, he’s shown that he can loft a ball forward with the correct spin to (sometimes, at least) find the intended receiver… He also looks a good deal more switched on defensively, as should be expected in the deeper role… Still, for me, despite the improved form, I would argue that you’re talking about good matches vs So’ton’s 2nd 11 and today vs Hull in a very end to end match. I didn’t see much of his Watford performance but he wasn’t a game changer at Chelsea, I didn’t think. Xhaka has taken the two unfortunate (and very harsh) red cards vs Swansea and Burnley (both matches which we still won…) so I’m not quite sure what you (retsub) mean about big game temperament. Maybe it was the pen vs Spurs (and another at Bournemouth…) or his performance vs the Manc clubs…

    In a match that’s sure to be played at a more controlled pace–but one where the quality of the opposition to hurt us will be much (much) higher–I think the Arsenal midfield will need to have a LOT more quality when it comes to making the simple passes, keeping our shape and not losing possession in bad positions. In truth, Alexis is the player who worries me the most in this regard but I also feel that having Xhaka and Elneny in there at least will push Alexis further forward where his turnovers will hurt us less. Their inclusion (plus Ozil’s…) would leave us without good tacklers in our MF so maybe Le Coq has to play…but, generally, I think that sort of stuff (tackling) is a lot less important in these European matches.

    Again, just my opinion and I should probably save it for the upcoming match preview… No matter how you slice it–given our recent poor form (or is it a “season long” thing?…) it will be a very difficult match and ANY scoreline that gives us a shot in the 2nd leg will be a good one…

  • 17ht maybe I am not wording it well, but I don’t think Xhaka has been a great success so far. Sure he shows touches, but he doesn’t seem to dominate the way I would have expected. Plus he is somewhat of a loose cannon and has a history of getting sent off. For whatever reason, Wenger has not shown a great deal of confidence in him, leaving him on the bench on a fairly regular basis until recently. Personally I think Elneny is a better bet at the moment.

    I am also a big fan of rewarding players who are playing well. Ozil in my opinion is very much a confidence player and that is sadly lacking at the moment. I can’t see him putting in a shift in Germany. That said as you say I am sure Wenger will pick him and I sincerely hope he plays a blinder.

  • Someone needs to be showing Alexis videos of his games and point out the alternatives to his decisions which cost us possession. I must say he improved the bit about not trusting his team mates enough in this game as recipients of his passes were more varied, so something is working. He is the kind of player who seeks to create opportunities every time he passes but Wednesday is one day we don’t need wastefulness.

    Is it okay to say I am worried about the outcome of the game when we have to go to Anfield, right after Bayern and Sutton. The form they showed against a strong Spurs side is scary. Hopefully, we can cope better.

  • Goonereris don’t worry about Liverpool they don’t play again for. 16 days. They will have a very fit squad, but we can always rely on them being rusty lol

  • Yep just my poor attempt at humour. They are a funny side Liverpool though. You never know which Liverpool will turn up. I am convinced if we had not played Holding and Chambers against them on the opening day, we could have beaten then easily.

  • Well explained, 17HT. Ozil’s space gets squeezed by Alexis in front of him and Ox behind him. He can interchange with one of them but not with both. Ox and Alexis are decent but not great passers and both are prone to losing the ball when under pressure. Time for Wenger to rearrange things so we can get the best out of Mesut again. Against Bayern we cannot afford to open up the area in front of our D and let them ping the ball round until they find an opening. We need to push up a bit and keep it tight. Elneny and Xhaka are good for this and the Swiss can ping over balls from deep as well. Xhaka is much tidier than Ox or Coq and has a better ‘natural’ relationship with Mesut.

    With Bayern pressing us into our own half regularly, Mesut will make himself available and hold the ball for a second or two, to allow others to make runs into space to release them. Not playing him against Bayern would be totally ludicrous imo.

  • T A I sincerely hope you are right, because I can’t see Wenger dropping him. As I said I hope he plays a blinder, but personally I am more worried about him being on the pitch and giving very little as he did today..

  • I can understand that, Retsubster, and let’s see how it goes on Wednesday. Playing with three nr10s and no proper CF or defensive B2b player does not work for me.

  • Went home late and only watched the last few minutes. Will catch the full game later.

    Good 3 points, and we know what Hull can do to us, so we dug deep. But we definitely cannot do the same against Bayern. We need to have a good midfield to bridge the gap between attack and defense.


  • Retsub 19.41.
    I think that those Xhaka comments were aimed at the media and referees as much as an observation on Granits tackling.
    He came to this country with a ‘reputation’ for red cards in Germany that those lazy tossers in the Press gobbled up and repeated ad nuseum, so there was no surprise that it was in the minds of referees, that he had to be ‘watched’, when he played.
    We’ve seen a succession of challenges, similar to the ones that Granit was sent off for, go unpunished, if my memory serves me right hasn’t Rojos of the Salford Reds got away three times with shocking ‘tackles’ recently or since Xhaka first red card?

  • Bayern is going to be all about technique and less about putting it in the box physicality.
    This type of game will suit our style added to the fact that nobody gives us a chance.
    Even the Germans could be a tad complacent?
    We need to score over there, maybe twice, because the Jerries will probably/definitely score in England.
    Although Xhaka will be fit, he’s also not played for awhile so there are risks involved in starting him against such dangerous opponents, even though I’d like to see him start, not least for the fact that it would be his first game back in Der Fatherland.
    It’s going to be an interesting selection for Arsene to make.
    Fingers, legs and eyes crossed that he gets it right.

  • Wenger’s line up against Chelsea and Hull possibly indicates that he wants to go back to the original mobile front 4 that had built a devastating understanding by around the time we played Chelsea the 1st time. From mid December we abandoned that, possibly because of Walcott’s injury, moved Sanchez WR and brought in Giroud as striker. Against Chelsea the 2nd time around we abruptly reverted to that original front 4 line-up only to discover that the fine chemistry had degraded beyond recognition after one and half months in the bin. His gamble now to go back to it must be based on his belief that the finely tuned understanding would be back quickly. That understanding is so much predicated on Ozil and Walcott running into the box spaces vacated by Sanchez.

    We have reverted to it when there is absolutely no space to breathe (battle of the top four), and that might force Wenger to be very cautious about experimenting with new front 4 combinations. I figure we should not be in a hurry to see Giroud, Welbeck or Perez as starters. Wenger has concluded and sealed the composition of the front four for the remainder of this season. His only headache atm is at the double pivot where the sudden emergence of Oxlade Chamberlain has only added to compound things. I suppose here, he would be mixing it up, depending on the opposition of the day. Having said all these, I must confess that fathoming Wenger is never an easy task. What I know for certain is that there is now no space for error. Maybe our trump card lies on our bench.

  • Kev I don’t disagree with you and totally agree with you about Rojo. Maybe it is Xhaka,s reputation that is causing the issues. Interestingly, I saw some stats showing that he has very rarely received a direct red, apparently he is a regular two yellow player. I guess if he plays in Germany I will just be concerned about his temperament

    On a bigger issue, the Wenger, Ozil and Alexis contracts can’t be helping the mood at the moment. It can only be beneficial to everyone to get some clarity around things.

  • It does make you wonder Retsub, I mean, are the club reluctant to tie Ozil and Alexis to long term contracts at a mammoth salary because they aren’t sure if a new manager does come in, that he’ll be happy as it’ll be a big chunk out of what he may have to spend?

    Has Arsene made up his mind, but is sitting on his decision because he doesn’t want a Pellegrini type scenario. Maybe if he has, he might be reluctant to inform Mesut and Sanchez, or lie to them a la Ferguson and RVP and that might be causing them to delay a decision?

    If we crash out to Bayern that may well tip the balance for Arsene, although it would be a wonderful end if he could, by some miracle, win that bloody trophy?

    If I had to make an uninformed guess right now, I think he might have decided to call it quits.
    There’s an awful lot of rumours swirling around Allegri as the new man and PSG as Arsenes swan song.

  • Somehow Allegri is someone that might come in, but I do not see him coming in next season. Wenger to PSG is absolutely bonkers for me.

    You might say that we are looking for a stand in that can manage us for a season, but somehow it might or might not make sense. We were so familiar with what Wenger does year after year.

    With someone that we were so familiar with goes, we might see a few established names going out and then we will see something worse for the next couple of years before slowly becoming a farce like Manu**.

    Or, we might see something that is similar to the Chavs. We have the right players and the right attitude in games, but we need the extra oomph.

    I understand that Allegri is penned in because of his Italian background, but it is too similar to Conte and the Chavs. I am not sure is we can do a Chelski, but you never know.

    Will watch the game later.


  • Arsene has a daughter 84, I believe his ex-wife and his daughter live in Paris.
    Maybe Arsene would like to see her grow up?

  • His daughter should be about 20years old now; not much more growing up for Wenger to see, is there?

  • Only Wenger knows Allezkev and Eris.

    Watched the match last night. Theo is not that imposing the day before, and Oil and Alexis did not make a commanding performance. However, the fighting mentality is there.

    Ox did well in the DM position, and this might be one of his consistent run of games. So, should we start Elneny or Ox alongside Le Coq?

  • Drop Coq, start all of Xhaka, Elneny and Ox. If Ozil must play, then start Giroud and Alexis, to have a front 3 of Ozil, Alexis and Giroud. My preference will still be to go Welbeck, Alexis and Giroud, for the away leg, without Ozil, at the start.

  • T A even Wenger has now publically said there is something wrong with Ozil’s confidence. In my opinion there are two ways we can play this game. We an outplay them, in which case Ozil st the top of his game is important. However I think it unlikely we will outplay them on the way leg and I know this will upset the purists we need some scrapperss out there, option 2. On his current performance level, I cannot see Ozil being an asset to the side on Wednesday. I don’t doubt his ability, but think he has been below par for weeks. For the past few weeks The Od has been on e of our top performers. I know the Ox has failed in the past, but He is the form player at the moment. The 2nd leg at the Emirates is a different story.

    Just my opinion

  • The Ox has moments of brilliance and moments of stupidity, and the balance is often zero, Retsub. Play him in a central role against Bayern and we will get slaughtered. 6-0 or more. Please can you find me the quote of Wenger saying that about Mesut?

    As I said yesterday, the Ox and Alexis moving into the nr10 space, Ozil’s space, is making it very hard for Mesut to play his game. Elneny instead of Ox is a must if we want to stand a chance. Ox on the right wing would be an acceptable compromise for me, though.

    Xhaka – Elneny
    Perez/Ox —- Mesut ——- Welbeck
    ————-Alexis —————

    A game for men who can hold on to the ball and pass well, very well…. and are athletes with 90+ minute focus..

  • Good attacking lineup TA, but I think Ox will stay and paired with Xhaka. But somehow if Hull is more prolific in front of goal we would have lost or drawn the match.

    Moving Ox right is not going to help him. Either move him up and move Ozil to the left or right. Perez is a good and quick player, but I am not sure if Ozil and Perez can protect the fullbacks. I have not seen them doing that, so I am unable to decide.

    What say you TA?

  • Ozil in the hole for me, and Welbeck and Perez are ideal cover for the full backs. We will be pressed deep so we need players who can protect the ball and jump the press from the flanks, and Welbeck, Perez, or even Ox can do this. We also need players who are likely to score when the few chances we will get occur…. Welbz and Lucas are such men, and so are Alexis and Mesut. I reckon with the line up above we have great balance.

  • TA, if you’ve been watching the Ox lately, you will find he has been our best performer, all round. We forget he has played in the middle twice in CL for us, against Milan and I think Bayern. To stand any chance against Bayern away, we need to shake things up and surprise them a bit with selections.

    Alcantara will be tamed by the Ox who can match him in speed and skill; Elneny can sit on Alonso and Vidal to curb their penchant for the long passes, but with the skills alcantara has in abundance, he has to have someone he too will worry about. Like I stated, if Ozil has to start, then it will be from the wings, or as a pseudo-winger cum creator. We need to keep things tight to make the 2nd leg something to look forward to.

  • TA, there is an excerpt (It is all over the news, actually, as you’d expect the media to lap up such appearance of negativity about the club. Wenger probably meant to simply encourage his creator in chief there):

    “Maybe it’s time for him to score a goal again. He needs to find confidence again. He misses chances that don’t look unfeasible for him [to score],” Wenger said post the game against Marco Silva’s side, as quoted by The Times.

    “I felt he was not completely confident technically today. That’s a problem because you think he can deliver something special. It’s true that technically he did things today that he is not used to doing. I don’t know. It can happen. I can’t think of a specific reason. I had a chat with him yesterday [Friday]. He looked all right,” the Frenchman added.

  • Ozil is a player who needs a team structured to accommodate his special talent. Firstly Ozil needs more numbers of technically gifted and intelligent players than we at the moment have. Even Sanchez is not fully it for him as Sanchez is unable to release passes first time in the heat of a movement ( don’t get me wrong Sanchez is super great). Apart from Sanchez, Ozil is surrounded by players like Walcott, Giroud, the yet to mature Iwobi, and Coquelin from the rear. Ozil instead needs players like Carzola (he must be missing him), Welbeck, Wilshere and the up and coming Jeff Adelaide. I also think it is wrong to begin to demand more goals from Ozil. Ozil must be accepted for what he is for him to bloom.

  • Sanchez’s weak point might be not releasing a pass 1st time in a ‘collective’ movement but he compensates by single handedly creating his own movement to give a telling pass.

  • Inneresting stuff…

    I think the AW quote might be in response to the one big highlight moment from the match when Ozil, after creating an ideal bit of space for himself and coaxing a chipped pass from Alexis, rushed his volley and put it over the goal instead of on target. A more confident Mesut might have waited that extra split second…

    It’s the kind of thing that happens ALL THE TIME when the ball drops to a player in front of goal. I’m less worried about it because (IMO) getting into the position is something not a lot of players have the vision to do in the first place. He also had enough confidence to want to get there; a player fully shorn of confidence wouldn’t have even made the run… Would he hide from making such runs in the bigger match (at Bayern) or would the situation actually calm him to wait and strike it home? Who knows?… With lesser talented players, as PE above, suggests, we probably couldn’t even ask such questions…

    In my view, the first leg of a two-leg elimination tie is VERY different compared to a league match between a big team that needs three points and a team in the relegation places who can play with a nothing to lose (everything to gain…) attitude. There’s no way (in hell…) that either Bayern nor Arsenal will want such a stretched, up and down, “you take the ball” (“no, you take it…”) sort of affair. Just as a draw really didn’t suit either Arsenal nor Hull on Saturday, a draw would be just fine for both teams at the Allianz… (Of course, they’d favor a nil-nil while we’d prefer getting an away goal or two.) Let’s not forget this is Ancelloti’s Bayern now, not Pep’s… The Italian game is too boring for many (it draws less to the stadiums than the Mexican league, I just read…) but there’s also a reason it’s been a dominant form…

    This sort of analysis is probably not what folks want to hear and it could well be argued that it’s all just football. It’s also (maybe) tempting to say that we should play more of the English game–run at ’em and give ’em what we’ve got–and leave out players who are (maybe) more subtle re: positioning and ball control, i.e., Ozil, Xhaka, Elneny, but maybe less aggro with the forward runs and tackling. Playing the more direct sorts might give us a better chance of getting an away goal but it also invites a hiding, I fear… The more boring we can make this match, the better… My hunch is that AW agrees. Another quote from the manager: “It’s important we protect the second game because I feel that to have a chance to qualify in the second leg, that will be very important. We go there not high, but to defend well as a team.”

    As always, that’s just my opinion which, of course, is just as good (i.e., not very…) as anybody else’s…

  • I agree with you there, 17ht. It isn’t like Wenger to speak about his player’s state of mind but my guess is it may have been a response to a specific question (like the miss referred to), now splashed as him hanging Ozil out to dry. Who would have believed Ozil will place such pressure on himself to add goals to his game?

    Also agree with your views about the manager’s mindset as to the 1st leg game plan. That’s why I expect us to have 4 midfielders on the pitch, including Ozil, with a strong, sharp offensive pair like Welbeck/Giroud and Alexis? While soaking the pressure, you also need to keep ball and be strong when trying to win it back.

  • PE (& others)…

    I find the debate about Ozil & Sanchez to be fascinating. (Most of the time–at other junctures it bores me to tears and/or frustrates me in the extreme…)

    I think it comes down to this. Some fans absolutely love Alexis’ unfettered desire and his willingness to try and take over matches on his own. Give him the ball and he will use ALL his skills, physical prowess and (unlimited) self-confidence to try and make something happen. He believes–with his heart and soul–and with the help of Jesus, whom he points at when he scores–that he is the best player on the pitch. He puts his head down and tries without reservation, something we all love to see… And, if he gets into a cul de sac he’ll look up and try to put in a better placed teammate–and he has the skills to often do so. All good… Except, of course, if he’s already lost the ball and–with all that running–pulled his team out of shape and into positions that the other team, in that quick moment of transition, can exploit on the counter…

    Ozil, the shy perfectionist, is almost the complete opposite type. Off the ball it’s all about spacing and keeping the pitch balanced, to the point that he will actually make himself less available for a pass if it will provide more space (or a better position) for a teammate to get the ball. If he does get on the ball it’s about moving it–the ball, not himself with the ball, as Alexis might–i.e., finding a teammate in a yet better position. His understanding of space plus his skill level means that he can get into scoring positions and should put those balls away. It was happening early season but it’s gone away, as the manager’s quotes would indicate…

    Here at BKesque, opinion is divided. Less than a week ago TA wrote about dropping Alexis. Others (forever, it seems…) have been wanting Ozil dropped. IMO, they both must play and I’d like them both to sign new contracts–along with the manager–but folks know who I’d prefer to see dropped (or gone in the summer) if I was forced to choose…

    Luckily, for the moment at least–and just in my opinion–we have both Ozil and Alexis (and Wenger). And (maybe) another (or one last…) chance for them to try and do something special together…

  • Simulpost there ‘eris… And we almost did it before… I had excerpted AW’s quote re: Ozil… Leaving it in my comment would have only made it longer… 😀 😦

    It’s the press’ duty, I fear, to twist Wenger’s words (as much as possible) to rile up the support and draw hits… Given the toxic atmosphere at our club (often directed at players as much as the manager…) I admire AW for his work at keeping the confidence of his guys intact as much as anything else he does.

    I probably should be keeping my powder dry (as it were…) for a match preview but the espresso has hit me well this morning and the snow needs to warm up (soften) just a bit before I get out on it…

    Happy Monday…

  • Thanks PE. I have no time to publish your post unfortunately. I have emailed Seventeenho to see whether he can do it.

    Good comments by all today. Cheers. ⚽️😀

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