3-1-4-1-1 to Beat MC: Elneny behind Xhaka/Ramsey, Ozil behind Auba: Preview


We go into this encounter as the underdog. Psychologically that will benefit us, is my belief. It will get us primed for a fight. There will be energy and commitment in our play and the handbrakes will be off. At our best we can stand up to anyone.

Arsenal and Manchester City met in the 2017 FA Cup semi-final at Wembley - the Gunners winning 2-1 in extra-time

With the ball, the philosophies of the two teams are very similar, to dominate territory with possession. But their tactics part company when the teams are without the ball. City does the high press. They want to regain possession as quickly as possible. We don’t press high. When we lose possession, we fall back. This major difference will define the key points of the battle at Wembley today.

If City is successful with their high press, they will choke us out of the game. On the other hand, if we are successful with beating their high press while maintaining an effective offensive shape, their usually undermanned half of the field would be reeling from our quick thrusts.

I see three major segments to our play. Win the ball deep, beat their press, lunge-blitzes through their poorly manned half.

Our midfield has a major part to play in these three different segments. Getting the personnel right there is all important. For the central midfielders I’d prefer the duo of Ramsey and Elneny because of their energy, ball winning ability and greater security in possession (beating the press). For transitioning the ball we have Ozil and Xhaka.  For blitzing my choice would be Auba, Kolasinac and Bellerin.

Something tells me that Auba and Kolasinac are made for each other. It might be of interest to remember that the tank was invented during WW1 in response to the stalemate of trench warfare. They were built for smashing through defensive barricades. It’s time to reinvent our Kolasinac, the tank.

Kolasinac and Bellerin would require a 3-man central defence. Using our wingbacks more offensively would demand using Elneny conservatively, as was the case in the 2nd half against Chelsea in the semi-final. It was very effective.

The line-up I’d prefer to see is:


—–Musti ——–Kosh —— Nacho—–


Bells —-  Xhak ——  Rams —— Kola



Subs; Cech, Chambers, Holding, AMN, Wilshere, Iwobi, Welbeck

Don’t forget that Wenger has a pact with the gods of cup ties. We will come out tops.


By Pony Eye

72 thoughts on “3-1-4-1-1 to Beat MC: Elneny behind Xhaka/Ramsey, Ozil behind Auba: Preview

  • Thanks PE for a good preview that will get us nicely warmed up for the final today. I love the line up and, as discussed in a previous post, it is the full back that are the riskiest factor here. Bels and Kola need to have awesome games for us to win the game, both in defence and in attack.

    The ball ends up a hell of a lot with Bellerin when we attack. He is an outlet which is a big positive and opposition teams seem to be fine with him receiving the ball; it is what happens with it then that really matters. His final balls need to improve further but I believe he is actually making progress. Personally, I would replace him with Rambo on the right and Jack next to Xhaka in your line-up but that is not going to happen.

    Kola will need to be very disciplined at defending our left flank and I have my doubts whether he will be able to cope with the incisive passing and positioning of MC. Is this a game where we see Per in the middle and Mustafi and Koz next to him and Nacho moving up into the wing-back/FB role? I would go with that, at least for the first 60 minutes. Stay compact at the back and let Per organise the defence.

    So my line up would be:
    ——— Koz–BFG–Mustafi————–
    ——————-Das Ozil——————–

  • TA,

    That’s brave .. I mean BFG the Big Brain. It makes good sense to me. City play out of the rear patiently which gives time to teams to fall back. Therefore there wouldn’t be the big spaces for sprints that is BFG’s weak point. City resorting to probing for opennings, would suit our Big Brain who is a genius at marshaling his men. I wouldn’t mind seeing your line up show up. But I suspect that BFG might have played his last game for us.

  • Hi all.. PE nice post..

    It seem no live for tonight.. Any livestreaming recommend..??

    In 4-2-3-1 formation.. My team will be :
    Iwobi – Ozil – Ramsey
    Xhaka – Elneny
    Monreal – Mustafi – Koscielny – Bellerin

  • Great preview PE, as you say our players won’t need Wenger to motivate them today, it’s all about self-motivation and pride in their professionalism and performance.
    That comes within…

    Keep it to 0-0 up to half-time then go for it in the 2nd 45.

    Yes, the British invented the tank PE, first used in 1916.

    But it was the Germans who fully developed it and integrated into their tactics that they successfully utilised in Blitzkreig or lightening war.

    So step forward Mesut Ozil and drive your panzer right through the middle of the soft center of Man City.


  • Yes PE, the BFG is slow but I expect us to sit deep and organisation and leadership are key. The others are just too responsive by nature. We need Das Brain. Having said that, I agree that he probably played his last game a while ago. He can advise Wenger (or hopefully our new manager then) who to buy this summer.

  • “So step forward Mesut Ozil and drive your panzer right through the middle of the soft center of Man City.”

    Nice line, Kevski. You could have added: “, and feed boom boom Auba-Bang.”

  • Ko Henry, di sini sama juga.. no live telecast.

    PE, TA, both lineups are possible.
    The thing is that the lads have to play efficiently and not like they had undergone some physically exhausting training.


  • Kev,
    …. talking about our tank Kola, I’d rather he be labelled T-34, the Russian WW2 tank that was the best of its time, reputed for its “maneuverability, mobility anď tremendous offensive fire power”. Sooner than later we’d get to know Kola.

  • Great grist-for-the-mill PE!

    I’d read this elsewhere (ACLF) and copied it to share here:
    “Now we’re here; Wembley. With the chance to win another trophy on Tottenham’s home ground. You can’t knock that, can you?”
    You made the point too– credit where due!

    Wenger mustered that last-great-effort from the BFG– about 9 months back. For a moment though? Reading your proposal? The sentimental rush hit me– and I seriously considered the prospect. Then did the deeper dive into Per’s performances at WhoScored– and saw that after his playing some stout minutes early on in the season (going 90′ in 7 matches; incl a 9.0 rating and MoTM at the Watford.)– that his last three performances have been not-so-stellar. While he scored the goal vs Forest (FA Cup)– that gave hope of a rally? Unable to convince those around him of Forest’s danger in attack, he was left exposed by other’s inabilities to be directed. His chief talent of seeing the probable before it occurred nullified. He’s not stepped on-pitch in competition since January 7th.
    Seemingly the ‘auf wiedersehen’ for Arsenal’s finest defender (IMHO) in my short history (2005) as a fan of the club.

    I like PE’s lineup and formation– but as with TA’s objection of Kolasinac, I too agree. Though with both Sterling and Jesus doubtful there’s a lot less firepower to contend with. Also read that
    Ilkay Gundogan may feature for David Silva. There’s not yet much solid on how Pep with fill out City’s lineup.

    But I do feel that we have to go with a 3-back– that can be a 5- or-6-back at times with the WBs and Elneny dropping deep.


  • Nice writeup PE, good lineup and formation, but I personally will do it a bit differently.
    Firstly, Iwobi should start this game, My reason is simply because, when you look at all our attacking midfielders, they all have almost a similar type of play, except Iwobi. We currently do not have a winger apart from our youth players but Iwobi is the closest to what we can get. He comes in with something a bit different from Özil, Ramsey, Wilshire, He has a bit of dribbles in him.
    Secondly, I will start with a 4-3-3 simply because of my choice of players, especially because of Iwobi.


    Bell — Mustafi — Kos — Monreal


    Özil. Iwobi


    • I will allow Özil to have a free role.
    • I can also start Ramsey ahead of Xhaka in midfield.

    What do you think?

  • You’re right there PE, the T34 was one a fantastic machine, the Germans actually copied it’s design, that is slopping armour in their design for the Panther.

    I’m on the Tube now, so no internet. 😕

  • Hi Jk..
    Yes this Cup seem left behind..
    It will be at 00.30 for you in Singapore.. Hehehe..

    Just hope YouTuber Gooner will keep their lives report.. Hehehe..

  • Hard to predict a line up that Wenger will choose for this one. To be honest, I like just about all the predicted line ups touted by posters above; I guess that’s because I feel our attitude into the game and mental preparation will be even more important than the personnel or formation. If we opt to match them physically and be aggressive in the tackle, while also being composed when we get our chances, there’s no reason we can’t be victorious.

    City like to play a high line as they try to deny opposition of space (not sure they will try such tactics too often against us, though), which is just simply an invitation for our midfield creative men to put balls over the top for Aubameyang to flex his speedy sinews. If he is put in on goal, no one in that City defence is catching him, except (maybe) Vincent Kompany and he won’t be starting (?). That, for me, is our way into getting the right result today. Look for Auba’s runs and chip delicately for him to take the city defence on a merry run. It won’t be an easy game, but we’ve been here many times before and excelled. We’ve got to find a way to play all 3 of Jack, Ramsey, Ozil, somehow, while retaining some balance in front of our defence.


  • Sadly, Spurs have left it late to take the win at Crystal Palace. We just don’t look like catching a break as far as top 4 goes. All of the teams above us have keen focus and don’t look like dropping too many points; to think we will have to win every game now to stand any chance.

  • I didn’t even need to look to assume that spuds would get a late Kane goal. It was all to predictable. Chavs and manure are both sliding in the league. Spuds will have more wobbles I would predict. But we look too far back unless we can do something remarkable, starting with City.

  • Eris–
    Walker appears the only City defender able to run with Auba on a break. Delph is suspended. Mendy is out. And City fans described Danilo’s performance vs Wigan as ‘shaky’. While I’ve always respected Kompany– he’s just not the same CB he once was. Not sure he’s suited for the ostensible 3-man defence City lines up. Pool’s pace blistered a healthy City that day. With that in mind– might be that Pep opts to go with a different formation today. Stranger things have happened.

    Now reading that Sterling will not play (WhoScored).


  • 3-4-3: Nacho indeed moved wide I reckon with Mustafi, Koz and Chambers in the back three.

    Koz- Chamb – Must
    Bel – Xhaka – Jack – Nacho
    Rambo – Auba – Ozil


  • Maybe one extra technically gifted defender somewhere in the mìx is what we should have done all season.

  • Not watching this but followed on my phone while at a meeting. Listening to the Arsenal site coverage and it will seem Aguero may have fouled Mustafi for his goal, by which we still trail at half time. The irony of it that City scored via route one (Keeper Bravo to Aguero), when I had advocated that approach by us be fore the game.

    Monreal came off for Kolasinac by the 26th minute owing to what is reported as a hip injury. Aubameyang had a chance to open the scoring earlier but couldn’t convert.

    We will get chances though. It depends what we do with them when we do.

  • Eris–
    A nudge in the back right as the ball was descending. Slight, but for complete advantage. Mustafi needed to exaggerate TBH. Ospina was a bit too far off his line IMO with Kos and Chambers closing in.

    Monreal was involved in a collision with Walker at the sideline– both approaching a ball at speed.


  • Well, hearing Fernandinho is off injured and Bernardo Silva is on for him. A strange sub unless Pep expects DeBruyne to play the deep role now. For anyone who thinks that is a relief, if he isn’t pressed often, he will pick out passes from there to hurt us; like he’s done in the past when played in that role.

    We just need to be scoring the next goal.

  • 2-0, Kompany. Just as Intyped that.

    Well, we now have to settle for beating them on Thursday then. Safe to say we may not come back from that?

  • I don’t think City even got going. In over 50 years of supporting Arsenal I don’t think I have ever used the term pathetic before. I have now

  • If Gary Neville was with me now I would seriuously chin him. I always thought he was a good commentator, but I changed my mind today.. possibly the worst manager in Spanish history, the term people in glass houses springs to mind.

  • Yup. The vitriol comes from either failed managers or those that haven’t dared to try. You rarely get it from proper football managers. We are an easy target today. Every pundit who likes cheap points can get stuck into us if they want. But they are mostly no mark mouth pieces.

  • We have met a better side. Period. When that happens, you hope for the 50-50s to fall your way but that didn’t happen for us today. Our passing was off while the lobs were either too short or too long. The stats will suggest a near even contest but overall play showed we met a better coordinated, determined and clinical side (3 shots on goals; 3 goals). From what I hear, they have targeted our right side of Bellerin and Chambers to give us plenty of problems causing Jack to lend a helping hand on occasion.

    After bringing in Aubameyang, I feel we needed to fashion our game and personnel (we need men who will whip in crosses often) to suit his strengths. Anything short of that and we will have to speak of how isolated he looks instead of counting how much problems he can give defenders. Again, like I said, I didn’t watch the game live but having seen highlights of the goals and listened to the Audio commentary, I am able to reach the above conclusions.

    Look forward to a reaction on Thursday. This isn’t happening again.

  • Admir, how lovely to see you on here again. I thought we just lost a final and surely the wonderful Admir with his insightful comments will pay us a visit… and there you are! 😀

  • @TA

    Insightful comments? I gave them a long time ago when 17 was Piers Morgan to Wenger’s Trump. The Biggest Hypocrite can’t get the best out of players we have, can’t recognize a player we need to replace/to sign, can’t organize the team to defend and, worst of all sins, to attack. Lazey players like Ozil get 350k per week and decide who we sign while players with cojones and character leave the club to stay at the highest level.

    But The Biggest Hypocrite won’t leave.

  • “Insightful comments? I gave them a long time ago when 17 was Piers Morgan to Wenger’s Trump…”

    Did you know:
    Formaldehyde is often used in pressed wood products like cheap furniture.
    Sniffing one’s furniture might seem like a cheap buzz– but effects can be lasting.
    Best advice? For starters? Open a window; preferably 2 flights up or higher. Jump.


  • Come on Admir, if you cannot say anything positive Just. Don’t. Ever.

    Talking about positives, 2 players did their best to trouble the citeh team, and they are Jacko and Auba.

    The fact that the midfield were so far from Auba meant that he had a few chances to trouble the citeh defense, and he was unlucky to see his tap in blocked by Bravo.

    Jacko did try his best in a sleeping midfield to create, but as other lads were just strolling around, he could not get much service to his teammates.

    By the way, was citeh first goal a shoulder nudge on Mustafi?

  • Jw1, yes, I have watched it a few times, and it seemed that it was a shoulder barge. I know that shoulder barges are allowed, but in this case somehow it seemed like a foul?

  • Having seen the first Man City goal on TV and seen Agüero looking straight at Mustafi, not the ball, it’s clear to me what Agüero’s intentions were,it was to impede the Arsenal defender and although it wasn’t a massive push, a push and a foul it truely was imo.

    It certainly was enough to knock Mustafi off balance and cause him to miss his clearance.

    The referee should have blown for a foul, but he did not, which only goes to prove why players exaggerate these challenges, I think if Mustafi had fallen over he may well have got a free kick.

    That said, it doesn’t change the fact that Arsenal were insipid and that Man City fully deserved their win.

    It was Arsenal’s heaviest defeatvin a major cup final.

  • Kev,
    Our boys are not street wise. Clearly players exaggerate to help referees make the right decisions. Secondly (I commented on this a few days ago)our boys should be professional and play to the whistle. Halting to raise hands and look imploringly at the referee upsets me so much.

    Wenger obviously does not lay down strict field instructions. Only such instructions, drilled, can weld a group into a team.

  • Click below to see how our attacking players Xhaka20, Ramsey8, Wilsh10, Ozil11 and Auba14 all congregate at the centre. That’s why our attacks are so easy to defend. Ozil at inside left has a tendency to drift left. Wilshere inside right, dribbles right wards. So they invade each other’s spaces which appears as interchanges of positions. If our creators can spread out some more our strikers would find it easier to elude their markers.

    By now we should be realizing that Laca actually has done great.


  • Well.. We know that we deserve to lost with that kind of strategy and mis-players..

    Just can say.. We still can take our revenge next week.. With more complete players..

    Iwobi Ozil Mhkitaryan
    Elneny Ramsey
    Kolasinac Mustafi Koscielny Bellerin

  • Appreciate the optimism Henry!
    In situations (and seasons) such as this– it’s a salve.


  • Yes jw1.. I still believe in the team.. They all more than average players..
    Wenger seem to had a little doubt about them lately.. Maybe the pressure just getting bigger and bigger.. He tried to play a lot of types formation.. For me it finish.. 4-2-3-1 is final..
    Whoever available.. We mustn’t change the formation anymore..

    Our CB tend to confused each other when 3 of them playing together.. Whom must cover who.. Hehehe.. Even Chambers and Holding were solid when they play side by side..
    And suddenly they look silly when Mustafi is in between them..
    So did Mustafi and Koscielny.. They play better in 2 CB rules..

    Ozil is CAM.. Just put strikers in front of him.. He will bring magic..
    Never trying to put him as strikers.. And don’t give Wilshere his rule when he is there.. Or I can say Wilshere must support Ozil.. And not on the other side..

    For me last night was 5-4-1 scheme..
    We try to play a counter attack scheme.. But as I said before, if Wenger want to do that, don’t put Ozil there.. Moreover as a winger.. Better to bring Elneny and Xhaka who can offer a long pass in a second.. But for that we need also a speedy winger..
    How come you put both your CAM as winger..??

    I believe if Mhikitaryan and Iwobi / Welbeck play as our winger we can do better..
    We can also put Nketiah.. Give this youngster more time to show his ability.. We will surprise of what will happen..Hehehe..

  • JW1.. Our players all are above avarage.. They just don’t suite to the plan.. Hehehe..
    I do believe our CB will did better as a couple not trio..
    You can see how good Chambers and Holding side by side together.. But suddenly they become silly when Mustafi was in the middle between..
    How many mistakes that Mustafi did with trio CB and with two CB..??

    I just can’t except. Why we always play with 3 CBs against big clubs.. We are one of them.. Why feel inferior and put all our midfielder together..
    We didn’t play 3-4-3 last night.. We played 5-4-1.. Hehehe..

    Ozil isn’t a fast break winger.. It’s a crazy to think that he can run after our counter attack ball.. He is a CAM.. He is the distributor.. Not the target man..
    Last night we put not just Ozil but also Wilshere in the same hard position.. He is another great passer.. But not a speedy player..

    So if Wenger bring back Ozil in the middle.. And give him three strikers in front.. We will see a big difference..
    Yes, some of you may disagree with me.. But I said it before.. And last night proved my theory again.. Hehehe..
    I hope Wenger do the 4-2-3-1/4-2-1-3 formation with Ozil in the middle next game.. So I can show you all that my theory is working..
    And yes we can beat City..

  • No argument on the usages of our MF. But at present– it is what it is.

    We played a team that had only lost 2 matches since Summer. Meaning we would have had to play without error to have had a chance. Mustafi erred, changing the complexion of the match entirely. TBH, I agreed with the approach through 25 minutes. We nearly took the lead on Auba’s tap-in. Had we grabbed the momentum there– no telling what may have transpired after.

    But we (Auba) weren’t ‘good enough’ to have beaten Bravo in that moment– and later he (and Aguero) grabbed that momentum.

    Looking back at video– I think Wenger is right in asking for Kompany’s goal to be disallowed. Sane was in an offside position during the pass from corner as Kompany shot. He was standing right in front of Ospina. Never did move back into an onside position.

    Some pretty tough luck– and an ‘iffy’ non-call.


  • jw1, there is a clip making the rounds which showed Kompany catch up with and dispossess Aruba in a foot race, even though Aruba had a good head start on him. Kompany doesn’t look it but he seems to make up ground rather fast when there is a goal threat.

    I fully expect a different game on Thursday night. Hopefully, Wenger can get them out of the current mood, in time for that game.

  • There’s reports ‘doing the rounds’ that Arsenal have drawn up a shortlist of candidates to replace Arsene Wenger this summer…

    They are, Jardim (Monaco), Low (Germany) and, make sure your sitting down, Brendan Rodgers (Celtic), that’s right Brendan fecking Rodgers. You couldn’t make it up, it has to be a joke?

  • OK, back in a much (much) colder land and very tired but I watched the match and then skimmed the comments…and, I really need help deciphering Admir’s mention of me (I’m pretty sure…) in relation to Piers Morgan and Trump… Maybe I just need to do a little research… Ah, the great pleasure in being “right,” or something…

    As for the match… Well, I’ve got some thoughts there as well but I’ll hold my piece for another day… Tough one looming on Thursday, it seems…

  • Kev.. If only three names of them.. I choose Low.. His calmness amazed me.. Although Germany isn’t my favorite.. Hehehe..

    I still hope for Bergkamp tobe our Manager.. But maybe Arteta maybe a good choice also.. I think he play a big part of Pep success at City.. Hehehe..

  • I have to agree with Admirs criticism of Wenger. Even if only half of what he listed is mostly down to managers failures, that would still be damning.

    Most of all, this team, with or without the recent changes, does not play for Wenger anymore. This was apparent in January of 2017, and I said it then.

    I don’t know why it is, but it is clear.

    Arsenal of 3, 4, 5 seasons ago would have given city a much better match, and would be higher in the table by about 10 points.

  • I would not worry what Admir meant with that comment, Seventeenho. He only comes on here to pick a fight nowadays, and he struggles making himself clear so he just says stuff to provoke a response. Don’t give him that pleasure.

  • Or as the inspirational Marcus Aurelius once wrote: “Another has done me wrong? Let him see to it, He has his own tendencies, and his own affairs. What I have now is what the common nature has willed, and what I endeavour to accomplish now is what my nature wills”. 🙂

  • Henry–
    We’re on the same wavelength. I prefer Low as the choice from outside the Arsenal family. But I’ve long held that it will be Arteta for several reasons– first of which being DNA. With his exposure to Guardiola’s approach for 2 seasons? IMO there is little reason to look elsewhere.


  • “Arsenal of 3, 4, 5 seasons ago would have given city a much better match, and would be higher in the table by about 10 points.”

    Agreed J. But the reasoning for that discrepancy is different IMO. My perspective is that there is more money– more talent, spread wider throughout the division. Those clubs who couldn’t afford or attract players until 2-3 years ago– can do so now.

    Those players who would make up the depth of squads such as ours– can go to lesser clubs, be a starter, and make nearly as much in wages. So when we have injuries– we can’t replace like-for-like or nearly– in talent– as the pool of available talent has been diminished– in large part by TV money.


  • J, do you have his book ‘Meditations’? If not worth buying. I am also getting a lot of fun from ‘The Daily Stoic’ by Holiday and Hanselman with lots of Aurelius, Epictetus, Seneca wisdom for every day of the year.

  • Still feeling bad after the weekend’s game and not looking forward to tomorrow’s game. It comes too soon against the same opponent. We just cannot get the balance right in the team and especially in midfield, which is worrying. Will do a short match preview later on today. Enjoy your day. 🙂

  • TA/HT

    Might have arrived a tad too late.
    Great exercise, swimming against the tide!

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