3-4-3: Niles/Kola Wingbacks, Elneny/Ramsey to Feed WOM: Match Preview

We go to Milan with hope, but three things worry me.

1). Auba and Lacazette are out of the Milan match. With Welbeck likely to lead the line, I worry about where the goals will come from. That worry will lessen considerably if Ramsey and Mkhi will start. Both have appetite for goals.

2). Xhaka as a holding midfielder worries me. He is not athletic enough. We’ve shipped in goals all season. Put a midfielder behind him and there is hardly a blemish in his play. Elneny, not exactly a world beater, is the best we have for that role. Am still thirsting for a repeat of that hybrid role (holding mid cum central defender) he was made to play in the 2nd half of our League Cup semi-final match against Chelsea. Still it is Xhaka and not Ramsey or Elneny that I would not pick for this match. The combined energy of Ramsey and Elneny would breathe some needed life into the team.

3). Kolasinac as a left full back worries me. For me, that’s a strong reason to opt for a 3-man central defence anytime Nacho is unavailable. There is one thing Kola excels at. Racing up the touch line and sending tailor made low driven crosses box-ward. That’s what raised his profile in Germany and with us early in the season. He should be freed to maximize that play even at the cost of some defensive contribution for which reason Elneny’s hybrid role is so advisable, being there to cover for our flying wingback.

My fourth worry is in the shape of a man called Gennaro Gattuso. He took over the management of the floundering Milan team in late November last year. He has completely turned them around. Though they are still 7th in the La Liga table, they haven’t lost a game in their last 13 matches and have also qualified for the Italian Cup final. More than anything else he’s got his team fighting. He favours the 4:3:3 formation.

Our boys are hurt. They are going through the cycle of pain, self doubt, anger and rebirth. I wonder at what segment of the cycle they are. Fifteen minutes into this game we would have gotten a clue to the answer. Sideways, backwards, tentative passing or some swagger and adventure in their play. We go to San Siro hoping the cycle has closed.

The line-up I’d wish for, with Bellerin unavailable, is :-

submit football lineup

SUBS: Cech, Per, Holding, Xhaka, Wilshere, Iwobi, Nketiah.

Fear never helps. We must approach the game professionally by simply following the game plan. Never a rush of blood to the head irrespective of our standing at any point in the match. The contest is only over at the final whistle in the 2nd leg at home. Don’t be deceived, Milan is scared too and for good reasons.


By Pony Eye.

46 thoughts on “3-4-3: Niles/Kola Wingbacks, Elneny/Ramsey to Feed WOM: Match Preview

  • Great stuff, PE. Thank you for producing another fine pre-match.

    I like the line-up and could see Wenger going for it. I have a feeling, though, that either Jack or Granit will also play, possibly both of them. I also feel that Wenger, like you, will be worried about the goals and the lack of attacking threat with the line-up you predict. Something fresh has to be added. I would go for your GK and back three and then:

    Rambo – Jack – Elneny – Maitland-Niles
    ————— Das Ozil ———————–

    Not sure what to expect tonight; more horror (probably), the resurrection (unlikely) or an okay game (possible). Wenger is still at the club so let’s hope he will do what he is paid for: re-establish confidence, play with a clear system for the players and get a result by finding a balance between defending and attacking. It looks like he has lost this ability but surely we will see a better Arsenal tonight?

  • It is a 4-3-3, apparently.

    Arsenal: Ospina; Chambers, Mustafi, Koscielny, Kolasinac; Ramsey, Xhaka, Wilshere; Mkhitaryan, Ozil, Welbeck

    AC Mila; Calabria, Bonucci, Romagnoli, Rodriguez; Kessie, Biglia, Bonaventura; Suso, Calhanoglu, Cutrone

    Ordinarily, our team will match and better this Milan side but it is the fight in the side I worry about. We know Milan will fight; if we maintain focus and keep our heads no matter what happens, we should ride this one. Just prevent conceding a goal in the first 20 minutes, then the next 25; and so on…..

  • Hi all.. Hi PE.. Great post..

    I agree that Ospina will be our keeper for tonight..

    But I wonder will Chambers be fit in 3 CBs.. He did quite good last game in RB position.. Kolasinac on the other hand didn’t help much in defense.. And although Koscielny did a bad games lately.. We still can find anybody to replace him.. Hehehe..
    So I will go for 4 defenders.. Niles – Mustafi – Koscielny – Chambers..

    Elneny and Ramsey will be our DM.. With Ozil in the middle.. They can distribute the ball smooth enough.. Hehehe..

    And the last three will be Iwobi – Welbeck – Mhkitaryan..
    I can’t expect Welbeck be our lethal CF.. He missed a lot of great opportunities.. So three strikers is better than putting Welbeck alone supported by Ozil and Mhiki (3-4-3 scheme..)

    But we will see it soon..
    Maybe before I send this comment.. Hehehe..

  • Eris.. It look like 4-1-4-1 for me..
    But could be 4-3-2-1 also.. A triangle formation.. Hehehe..

  • Henry, whatever it turns out to be, we shall play with 4 at the back and Xhaka is no true DM to assume he will be the one in your “1”; we will need all 3 (or 4) in midfield taking turns to sit in, methinks.

    Rambo and Xhaka likely to play the deep lying roles while Jack should be more offensive, intermittently switching roles with Ozil, who is likely to have a free role.

  • Eris.. Must agree with you about Xhaka.. Still hope it is Elneny..
    So I must correct my view.. Hehehe..
    It will be a 4-3-2-1.. Hahaha..

  • Milan Subs: Kalinic, Da Silva, Borini, Zapata, Montolivio, Locatelli, A. Donnarumma

    Cech, Holding, Maitland-Niles, Elneny, Iwobi, Nelson, Nketiah.

  • Team sheet is out and it is Xhaka. He will be okay if well supported.

  • That line up sounds more 4,2,3,1 to me. With Jack and Xhaka in the pivot. No?

  • No AB.. Ramsey and Xhaka are our double pivot..
    Great goal from Mhkitaryan..

  • Nasty collision with Ospina and Mustafi.
    Nothing serious looks like though.


  • Well struck shot by Chambers.
    Danny’s final touch betrays him on a break.


  • Ozil and Ramsey at the whistle with a masterclass display!
    2-nil good guys!


  • Retsub–
    Apparently we’d be quite good in Serie A.
    IIRC, Milan haven’t conceded 2 in a match since December.


  • Spurs were cruising last night, Juve changed formation and 2 minutes later sayonara Sours. No doubt. Milan will try something similar.

    Concentrate, concentrate , concentrate,

  • jw1. Gotta be honest I haven’t got a clue what happened. Milan Arne playing that well?

  • I just cannot believe my eyes!!

    Got in from work – having missed the first 20 mins — and we were 0:1 up. Wowee 😀

  • Mkhi has had 2 great chances converted one.
    Danny was in a break and had to toe a poor last touch at GK.
    Ozil slipped a deft ball through to Ramsey at half– he walked it in after bamboozling the GK.
    Danny, just now, almost bundled in a deflection from a backpass to their GK.

    Jack/Aaron and to some degree Xhaka are finding and keeping possession.


  • I do not want to jinx things — but Chambers has been really back to his best tonight. Excellent!!
    Only 33 mins to go — ohh, me and my mouth.

    Where are you Totes? You’re missing a good game. 🙂

  • Elneny should come on for Jack. He doesn’t look in great form. AM-N on for Kolasinac who limped out. Ozil had looked his most lazy self at the start but with 2 assists, you cannot ask for more.

  • Holding on for Ozil. Good choice IMO– height for the onslaught of crosses and corners.


  • Danny tracking back into box to recover the ball.
    That’s what Danny gives you at 90+


  • I think it’s the first time in this season we win in our blue shirt.. Hehehe..
    Let’s enjoy it..

  • Congratulations. The cycle has closed. Spot on, on Ramsey’s and Mkhi’s appetite for goals.

  • Well done boys good game. But let’s not get carried away. It’s a step in the right directiim.

    ,y man of the match Danny Welbeck. He will need a week off after that.

  • I loved that game and the result — what I do not understand is the other less than wonderful games. WHY????

    Wr can still beat the best – or one of the best – when we put our sensible heads on. Brilliant!! 😀

  • I agree on .Chambers he got caught out s few times but worked really hard

  • Retsub.. Noway.. Ozil Will be the MotM.. However lazy he is.. Hehehe..

  • Both Ramsey and Jack kept the ball moving FORWARD.
    Mkhi had 3 chances, converted one.
    Ozil made certain we got shots; 2 assists.

    And God love Danny Welbeck.
    Runs fleet, non-stop for 90+.
    Then shoots like his boots are laced together.

    Clean sheet. Kos and Mustafi played like twins.
    And there were no Oopspinas!

    Kola played hard. :clap:


  • Been busy today so only just read the post, great work PE…

    I saw the game at my sons home so for once I can comment.

    Firstly Milan are not the same Milan I’ve seen in the past, they looked as if the occasion was too much for them, a bit like Ostersunds perhaps. So I expect a much more dangerous opponent at the Emirates.

    1) PE you must be psychic as the two players you mentioned, not only had stand out games but they scored the goals.

    2) I thought that Xhaka was superb, easily one of his best games in an Arsenal shirt imo.

    3) Kolasinac likewise, he was perpetual motion and a constant threat to the Milan defence, I don’t think they could handle his physicality.

    4) Gattuso was let down by his players this evening, but maybe it was as much a case of Arsenal showing that they’re quite a good team, a very good team.

    The tie ain’t over yet because this is Arsenal we’re talking about, but tonight was a breath of fresh air after the smog of the last 6 weeks.

  • Yep, pretty much agree with Retsub, Danny ‘twinkle toes’ Welbeck was my man of the match, he just kept running at the Italians, chasing everything, closing down defenders, winning headers, competing for every ball either high or low, all he needed was a goal, but if he can play like that every week the goals will surely come.

    Yep Chambers, Kozzer and Mustafi all mentioned in dispatches, best defensive display since I don’t know when.

    Jack was a bit off the pace, but didn’t hide, linked up well again with Ozil who was the brains of the team.

    Ospina had a good game, had a few hairy moments but dealt with them, in fact I can’t really remember a stand alone chance for Milan in the entire match.

    Maitland-Niles did ok, Holding looked solid when he came on, Elneny was neat and tidy.

    Arsene got his team selection correct, his tactics correct and his substitutions correct, so credit to him, after a difficult time.

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