Iwobi-Elneny-Jack in Midfield, Welbeck-Lacazette-Mesut in Attack: Arsenal v Pool Preview


Klopp’s Liverpool is a relentless attacking machine. They pass the ball quickly and when out of possession immediately press the ball, irrespective of where the play is. They have speed merchants in Mo Salah and Saido Mane who play as wide forwards. In the false 9 position is the talented and hardworking, Firmino. These make up their front-three that we should expect to see against us in their usual 4:3:3 formation.

Their middle-three would be selected from Wijnaldum, Henderson, Coutinho, Can, Milner, the now fully fit, Lalana, and Oxlade Chamberlain. Klopp can go with any three and not lose sleep. But does he worry about his back line? They have shipped in 20 goals already in the league but, thanks to the 38 goals they have pumped into opposition nets (with Mo Salah leading the league scorers chart with 14 goals), they remain in contention for a champion’s league spot.

They walloped us in our 3rd game of the season by 4-0 at Anfield. It is now revenge time.

One thing I can say about this match is that it is not going to end in a goalless draw. The second thing is that the neutrals are in for a thriller. The third is that Wenger must have resolved any dilemma on how to approach the game. The Wenger that I know has already oiled all his guns ready to match fire with fire but trust that he has also touched the tip of his hat, an act of respect to a formidable foe. He, for example, would not have missed the fact that of the 21 goals so far scored from counter attacks in the league this season, Liverpool have scored seven of them (a whopping 33.33%). That’s an amazing stat when viewed against the backdrop that eleven premiership teams, including our offensively feared Arsenal, have scored zero goals from counters.

To bring this into a frightening context, when a corner kick is awarded against Liverpool the chances are stacked higher that it is the Reds who will reap a goal from it, unless the other team have taken good measures to guard against their devastating counterattacking potential. Such a measure can, for instance in our case, be to have one or two more of our men fewer in their box during our corner kicks and diverting them to bolstering the number of those stationed for Liverpool’s possible brake. Lest it has been forgotten, in our match at Anfield their 3rd goal was a lone Salah counter that arose from our corner-kick. Salah broke and went all the way, uncatchable.

Maitland-Niles recovery pace is astonishing. He and Bellerin can match the pace of Salah and Mane respectively. Incidentally, if played at the full back positions theirs would be the task of policing these two Liverpool’s speedsters. This represents a big call why both should be starters for us in this match. Kolasinac is super going forward but he could do better at tracking back. Monreal is ever excellent but Salah’s pace, one on one, would leave him stranded. Yet football is not just about pace. There are many things to it not least is that intangible called experience.

Maitland-Niles, Bellerin, Kolasinac, Monreal, Debuchy: which two of them should start at the full back positions when we come face to face with the Reds tonight?

Ramsey will be missed in the central areas of the field. He would have added a lot in providing our own ‘relentlessness’. Xhaka’s clock ticks too slowly for Liverpool’s high press. Coquelin wins the ball but can’t pass quickly enough. No point in winning it and immediately coughing it up. We have to hold the ball in spite of their press. That should be the key. Santi would have killed the Liverpool press, killed their game. In his absence, however, we have Elneny, the master of “pass and show” who’s never the man of the match yet never once out of his depth. Combine his ball security with the ingenuity of Jack, the quick passing of Iwobi plus Ozil dropping into vital spaces to lend a hand and the stage is well set for a classic Wenger meets Klopp tug-of-war, where attacking on both sides is configured as a tactics in defending. It doesn’t matter that on one side is harmonious music, on the other jangling heavy metal.

Liverpool are a very hardworking team. We need all our outfield players working very hard too and linking up play. For these two reasons I expect Wenger to opt for Welbeck over Sanchez and Lacazette over Giroud (injured). Liverpool often lose steam towards the end particularly when they play against teams that give them the run-around. Our boys should expect them to start off, as they normally do, at a bewildering tempo. Once these early forays are withstood they invariably get knocked down a notch. As the game wears on, they begin to slow. Maybe this would have been one of those matches that Giroud would have come off the bench to bang in one or two goals. Too bad he is out injured but I’d count on Sanchez coming off the bench to do exactly that. At the other end of the field Cech would have to be at his very best to achieve the amazing premiership record of a double century clean sheets.

Here is the line-up I would wish to see:





SUBS : Ospina, Bellerin, Chambers, Xhaka, Nelson, Sanchez, Walcott.

COYG, bring the Emirate down for the boys and meanwhile don’t fail to let us have your opinions.

By Pony Eye.

24 thoughts on “Iwobi-Elneny-Jack in Midfield, Welbeck-Lacazette-Mesut in Attack: Arsenal v Pool Preview

  • Thanks for the preview, PE. You have made me hungry for the game which is what a preview is all about. The line up does not really excite me to be honest, but I like the way you argue your case for it. For me it is all about compactness tonight, in defence, midfield and attack. I would play Elneny and Xhaka in the middle together and Jack in the hole, with Alexis, Lacazette and Mesut up top in a 4-2-1-3.

    Will be watching game at the Starbank Inn in Edinburgh with Mrs Total tonight, so lets hope the boys put up a performance. 😉


  • Liverpool will attack Arsenal and Arsenal will definitely leave space for the Merseyside attacking forces to score more than two goals

  • What the same Ramsey who stood and argued with the bench when Liverpool scored at Anfield, the problem is Elneny,iwobi and Xhaka are simply not good enough and never will be. Wenger is clueless and has been for a long time. Forget about Revenge as Wenger is predictable and one dimensional. Sanchez should be dropped until he is gone, he brings nothing to the team, I would rather Wellbeck over him at the moment. Wenger made a massive mistake not selling him in the Summer and as Wrighty and Smith have stated, he is looking to the horizon to leaving and Wenger le fraud can not see that. Sanchez is a bad influence, but Wenger knows best eh?

  • Can’t wait for this one. Broke my leg so am at home but glad a blog exists that Isn’t focused on moaning and attempting to find fault in everything Wenger does. If Ozil is on the world spins a little slower. Get on it gooners.

  • Nicely done preview, PE. While I will like to see Welbeck too, but you know there’s no way (save injury) that he starts over Alexis; just for his greater creative influence and fear factor. The fact he turned down Liverpool to join us should give him the extra impetus to do well against Klopp’s men. Xhaka also looks like a fixture in the side so, he will start. I hope Wenger plays either of Coq or Elneny next to him; Jack can also do a job next to him if we opt to unleash Ozil’s creativity on them from the start.

    Look, no matter who Wenger fields (that’s what he gets paid to do), they should just go out there and fight for the shirt.

    Let’s do this, lads!

  • Arsenal make 11 changes from the League Cup team, as you probably expected. Ainsley Maitland-Niles keeps his place and Alex Iwobi is in too.

    Liverpool make two changes from the team which beat Bournemouth – in come Emre Can and Sadio Mane.

    Arsenal: Cech; Bellerin, Koscielny, Monreal, Maitland-Niles; Wilshere, Xhaka; Iwobi, Ozil, Sachez; Lacazette

    Liverpool: Mignolet; Gomez, Lovren, Klavan, Robertson; Can, Henderson, Coutinho; Salah, Firmino, Mane

  • Team sheet is out. Iwobi and AMN start. Mustafi on bench so we set out in a 4-2-3-1.


    Cech, Bellerin, Koscielny, Monreal, Maitland-Niles; Xhaka, Wilshere; Iwobi, Ozil, Sanchez; Lacazette.

    Subs: Ospina, Mustafi, Kolasinac, Coquelin, Elneny, Walcott, Welbeck


    Mignolet, Gomez, Klavan, Lovren, Robertson, Henderson, Can, Coutinho, Mane, Salah, Firmino.

    Subs: Karius, Alexander-Arnold, Lallana, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Wijnaldum, Milner, Solanke.

  • Oops! Simultaneous (almost) posting I guess.

    Wenger has gone with a side that looks lightweight (but nimble) at the back. I hope Bellerin stays strong today and Xhaka is more aware of what’s happen8ng around him. The rest, I am cool with, to be honest.

  • Upon first glance? Thought I’d prefer Coquelin to Xhaka.
    But no. Bring guns to a gunfight.


  • TA, well we’ll certainly need him to be tonight, that’s for sure. I like the element of surprise the manager pulls these days, with selections. AM-N versus Mane or Salah will surprise many even if speculated because he was rested midweek.

    Wake up call for Kola. He can do more than he’s done in a couple of games now. Buzzing for this one.

  • Quick check in…Then I’ll set up a live-blog post…

    PE, you give some good analysis about why you favor some players over others for this one but it’s hard to take some of the one-phrase assessments of some of our guys. I just can’t dismiss guys like Xhaka and Coquelin quite so easily though I like your faith in my avatar guy (Elneny). Alexis, not a hard worker? I thought that was what everybody loved about him…

    I was pretty sure we’d use the exact same 11 as last time out and that’s what we’ve done. Maybe if we’d gone back to 3 at the back (Mustafi in, Jack or Iwobi out) there might have been a change or two… That formation is starting to look smaller and smaller in the rearview, it appears…

    Finally, I’ve got some thoughts in response to what people said at the bottom of the last thread but time is growing short. Maybe I can work that stuff in while trying to comment on the play by play…

    OK, off for a bit then back with something new…

  • Wenger has gone for toe to toe. Maybe that gives us the best chance. My guess …. 5 goals to be shared by the two teams.

  • Yes, PE. The way I see it, our full backs should be ready to face any of their front 4 as Salah usually drives into the striker position at times while Mane operates from either side, depending on where they perceive weakness.

    Fingers crossed for AM-N. He looks a mentally strong lad so, we shall see how he fares.

  • Will be watching keenly tonight. Maybe an in swinger at half time and full time. Who knows?

  • HT, just that I see link up play as the heart of hard work. Am excited that Sanchez is there though. He loves the big stage and we might see him at his best.

  • Not sure I’ve been as anxious before any other match this season.
    Go gettem’ Gunners!


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